DeGroote School of Business

DeGroote Doctoral Students Association

The DDSA is the Doctoral Student Association of the DeGroote School of Business. The purpose of this association is to provide a forum of discussion for doctoral students at DeGroote and to create a means to address student concerns, thereby enhancing the experiences of doctoral students and encouraging valuable academic research activities.

DDSA Officers 2023-2024

President: Shamik Pushkar

Vice-President: Rehan Khan

Financial Director: Ismat Jahan

Administrative Director: Toli Amare

Social Director: Sarah-Kay Walker

Communications Director: Oluwakorede Ologun


DDSA Research Day

The DDSA hosted their annual DDSA Research Day on March 4, 2024. This year’s theme was commercialization of research, with a focus on entrepreneurship for academics.

The flagship event was the Student Business Challenge (SBC), a business pitch competition specifically designed for PhD students. Our PhD Students showcased their entrepreneurial skills and competed for a total prize pool of $1,800. 

Student Business Challenge Prize Winners:

  • Nicole Rakowski – 1st Winner – $1,000 
  • Mahdi Abouei – 2nd Winner – $500 
  • Fatemeh Navazi – 3rd Winner – $300 

Popular Choice Prize Winner:

  • Hesam Nojavan – $500


Nicole Rakowski, the 1st winner of the SBC, shares her experience: 

“My experience with the Student Business Challenge (SBC) at the DeGroote School of Business was nothing short of amazing and empowering. I found the SBC to be a fantastic opportunity to showcase my entrepreneurial skills and compete for a prize. The event was much more than just a competition. It served as a platform for networking and meeting other remarkable entrepreneurs and business leaders. Additionally, the SBC provided an opportunity to test and enhance my communication skills, along with other essential skills that are crucial in the competitive business world. Overall, the SBC was a valuable experience that helped me grow and stand out in the business community.”

Mahdi Abouei, the 2nd winner of the SBC, shares how this competition contributed to his research:

“Participating in the Research Day event organized by the DeGroote Doctoral Students Association (DDSA) was an enriching experience that highlighted the theme of commercializing research. As a competitor in the student competition, I was challenged to present the commercial viability of my research, eventually winning second place among a diverse cohort of talented peers. This achievement, alongside the valuable feedback and networking opportunities provided, enhanced my approach to research commercialization, not only broadening my perspectives on the academia-industry intersection but also motivating me to pursue impactful research with renewed vigor. I am grateful for this inspiring opportunity and commend the DDSA’s efforts to bridge the gap between academic research and practical application.”

Fatemeh Navazi, the 3rd winner of the SBC, shares more about her proud moment:

“By pitching my business model at SBC, I practiced presenting my research in 5 minutes and thought about how to commercialize my academic research. Also, it was very interesting to know about the business ideas of other PhD students for possible future collaborations. Honestly, it was a tight competition, which made me proud to be among the winners. The Student Business Challenge was a thrilling and empowering experience, and I suggest that students with entrepreneurial interests participate. Some of us might have a dream of running our own business by studying in Business School. During research day, I learned about resources and incubators at McMaster University that support students to run their business ideas, which I wish I knew sooner. If you are looking for some adrenaline release and meeting our peers from different areas & making deep connections with them, I invite you to join DDSA competitions/events.”

Hesam Nojavan, the winner of the Popular Choice Prize, shares his experience of the event:

“I am happy to express my heartfelt gratitude for the opportunity to participate in the DDSA Research Day and for the honor of receiving the Popular Choice Prize. This experience has been truly enriching, leaving a lasting impact on my academic journey. The talent and dedication displayed by my peers were remarkable, and the atmosphere of intellectual curiosity was truly inspiring. A special thanks to the DDSA team for their hard work in orchestrating such a successful event. Additionally, Dr. Bontis’ presentation was not only amazing but also incredibly practical, providing valuable insights that will undoubtedly shape our future endeavors. I extend my sincerest appreciation to the organizing committee for their tireless efforts in ensuring the success of the event. I also acknowledge the exemplary leadership of DeGroote School of Business, McMaster University in hosting such a remarkable event. I encourage fellow students to embrace opportunities like the DDSA Research Day, push boundaries, nurture ideas, and remember that the journey, though challenging, is immensely rewarding.”


Congratulations to all our amazing prize winners!

Many thanks to our Sponsors: Seek Edgar, LLC and DeGroote PhD Office.

Looking forward to seeing you at our next events!

If you have any questions or need further information, feel free to reach out to