Applying statistics to business processes

Hamed Samarghandi is fascinated by the intricate dance of human productivity, a sentiment he strives to instill in students in his business planning and statistics classes.

By University Communications

"I'm a statistics guru, actually – I love it," he said.

An industrial engineer and assistant professor in the Edwards School of Business, Samarghandi applies the science of statistics to help design efficiency into processes, whether it is a series of steps to build a product in a factory, a bridge across a river, put a patient through a hospital or a customer through a bank.

"Industrial engineering is basically looking into the systems in which man and machine work together," he explained. "Industrial engineering, in a nutshell, tries to optimize such systems."

Samarghandi has applied his expertise to help improve cancer patient care and to software that processes millions of financial transactions. Back home in Iran, he worked with construction firms and municipalities to help estimate cost and time to more closely match actual outcomes. He explained the same principles apply, whether it's processing a cheque or delivering a burger.

"Next time you go to MacDonald's, take a look at how they operate, how many people are there, and ask how they manage to keep their waiting times that low. Software collects all the data, sends it to headquarters where it is analyzed, and they decide the number of servers they should have during every shift – all without us noticing."

Samarghandi came to the U of S in July 2013, drawn by the atmosphere of encouragement and support from the dean and faculty at Edwards. He grew up in Tehran, earning his bachelor's degree from Amirkabir University of Technology and his MSc at Sharif University of Technology before coming to Canada. He completed his PhD in industrial engineering at the University of Manitoba.