Lena Dombrosky

Reception & Administrative Assistant

Faculty of Management
Office: EME 4145
Phone: 250.807.8937
Email: lena.dombrosky@ubc.ca


Meet Amir Ardestani-Jaafari, Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Management at UBCO.


 Tell us about your research.

I am interested in investigating Operations and Supply Chain Management (OSCM) problems under uncertainty. I’m passionate about addressing uncertainty; we can find uncertainty everywhere— in customer demands, traffic congestion, electricity consumption, and the growth rate of COVID-19, to name just a few examples. Applications that have caught my attention include, but are not limited to, inventory management, facility planning, operating-room planning and stroke-patient allocation problems. I use robust optimization (RO) techniques to mathematically formulate and address the source of uncertainty in these problems. The goal of RO is to prevent, or prepare us for, the worst-case scenario.


Can you share some examples of your work?

In one study that was recently published in the European Journal of Operational Research, my colleague and I investigated how to simultaneously consider uncertainty in supplier reliability and market demand in global sourcing. Using RO techniques, we showed that a supply-side disruption associated with compliance failure can be 10 times more destructive than the market’s uncertainty.

I’ve also looked at stroke-routing protocol; everyone thinks that the closest hospital or the closest stroke hospital is the best hospital to take stroke patients to, but that’s not necessarily true, because treatment requires many specialized care providers. We used mathematical modelling to answer the question about which hospital is the best choice, based on symptoms and severity of the stroke.


Has the COVID-19 pandemic inspired new areas of research for you?

I have been working with my Faculty of Management colleague Eric Li in the area of food bank operations since last year. The pandemic has raised several important operational questions for the Central Okanagan Community Food Bank in terms of inventory management and supplier uncertainty. There have been a number of disruptions on the supplier side; because of the pandemic there were fewer farm workers, so farms could not donate as much as they normally would to the food bank. In addition, COVID-19 has given a shock to suppliers.

At the same time, the food bank is experiencing an increased demand for their services, and there’s also the challenge of matching families with supplies—a senior couple has much different needs than a young family with babies, for example. So how can we consider the preferences of clients when providing support? We have developed a mathematical model to address these questions and investigate the sources of uncertainty, so that they can be mitigated.


How did you become interested in this research area?

My background is in industrial engineering. I worked in facility planning and materials handling in my home country of Iran, where I pursued a master’s degree in operational and industrial engineering at Tehran Polytechnic. I realized, during my master’s degree, that the uncertainties we experienced in manufacturing, such as the flow between facilities, could have a significant impact on the performance of a company. I decided to investigate this further and came to Canada for my PhD at HEC Montréal, where I applied robust optimization techniques to inventory management and facility location—two areas that are the building blocks of many industrial problems. I began to see how robust optimization can be applied to many other fields, including healthcare.


What do you find most fulfilling about your work?

Personally, I find that when we look at worst-case analysis, we are better prepared for the future. You stay one step ahead. Instead of only considering the probability of something happening, we should consider its potential impact. COVID-19 shows that sometimes we can have a scenario with a small likelihood of occurring but with a huge impact on the globe.

Take the summer wildfires in B.C. We’ve had them for many years. Each year’s wildfires caused significant damage, but it isn’t surprising because we’ve had them in the past, and we are more prepared each year to address them. But an extreme scenario like COVID-19 was exceptional, and few countries had looked at and prepared for such this worst-case scenario of a viral pandemic.


Where do you plan to take your research from here?

I am now interested in extending my research area to data-driven decision-making. Recent advances in the field of business analytics have helped researchers better integrate data into the decision-making process. My plan is to develop data-driven RO techniques which enable decision-makers to integrate predictive analytic and prescriptive analytic approaches in a computationally solvable way—particularly in healthcare and supply-chain management. I’m looking forward to this bringing new and exciting research projects to which my current and future students can contribute.

Ardestani-Jaafari in Banff during CORS conference 2016

What is your philosophy when it comes to teaching students about research?

My own academic education has helped me develop a diverse research agenda, and I’ve been provided fantastic opportunities at UBCO to conduct interdisciplinary research with the help of students. I aim to train my students to acquire both managerial insights and business analytics skills to be well-prepared for both academia and industry.

As a research supervisor, I aim encourage students to become flexible in finding their own research directions. My goal is not to dictate what direction is the right one, but to help them determine which approaches they want to take. The rest is all about their innovations. My students always surprise me with innovative ways to achieve their research goals.

Story contributed by David Leidl

At 28 years old Kwame Boateng, CFA, UBCO  Bachelor of Management alumni and adjunct professor, is currently the youngest investment advisor and associate portfolio manager at B.C.-based investment firm Odlum Brown Limited’s Kelowna branch. Recognized by the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce and sponsor BDO’s 2018 Top 40 Under 40, he has a strong leadership role as the current president of CFA Society Okanagan, while balancing an active presence in Kelowna’s community and performing arts scene and mentoring UBCO students in his spare time. If there ever was a role model for young management students, Boateng is it.

A Curious Turn of Events

Born in Ghana, Kwame Boateng is the second-oldest son of parents who moved to the United States when he was four months old in search of better opportunities. While on a student visa in Indiana, his father earned a PhD in silviculture and secured a work visa with a big national U.S. paper company. Sent to Maine, the small family was later transferred to South Carolina where, in the early to mid-2000s and about a decade into their new lives, the sector was ravaged by the mountain pine beetle epidemic and endemic layoffs. Recalls Boateng: “When there’s no work, there’s no visa.” The stark realization of deportation began to sink in for his parents. “So we had to figure out a working solution.”

Thankfully, his parents had long been preparing a contingency plan: permanent residency status in Canada. Boateng recalls his father receiving a job offer from a silviculture company in Salmon Arm, B.C. and at the “eleventh hour” residency status was approved. The small family was moving to Canada. Reflecting back, Boateng wonders “I don’t know how my father was able to finesse it. I think he kind of knew what was going on earlier than he let on.”

The family stayed in Salmon Arm for one year, moved to Lake Country for eight years and then Kelowna, lured by the work and educational opportunities where both Boateng and his mother earned their UBC undergraduate degrees in 2013, her in Nursing degree and him, Management.

While initially on a computer-science path, Boateng sensed it wasn’t quite the right fit. “So I had been chatting with my dad and he was like, ‘You have more of a business mind than you would a pure science. You should consider the management program and see where that takes you.’”

Group photo at a Kelowna United Way community event

Boateng pivoted and began pursuing his Bachelor of Management degree. By his fourth year, Boateng was elected to the Management Student Association (MSA) as VP corporate relations. He credits the degree program for doing a very good job at “getting you out of your comfort zone in terms of presentation skills and trying to develop in you a natural curiosity about things and then thinking through the process of reaching an answer based off of that curiosity.”

Innate curiosity and natural leadership led him to help start a portfolio management club with support from two professors. The idea, explains Boateng, was “just to give students an opportunity to think critically about investment decisions, think critically about how to analyze a business or a company and then think about whether or not it’s worthwhile to invest.”

The ‘synthetic portfolio’ ran for about a year but what Boateng retains from the experience were the “teachable aspects” that gave him a way to learn about the market in a competitive but fun environment. It was an opportunity to “take what you have learned already in your courses and give you some more direct practicable application that’s also outside the general curriculum. Kind of cool, right?”

Being a part of the MSA also gave him his first big break. While pitching for community and industry sponsorships for the student association, Boateng so impressed the branch manager of the Kelowna branch of Odlum Brown Limited, he was offered a job upon graduation. For Boateng, the choice was easy; he settled in Kelowna where he felt he could pursue a healthy work/life balance and nurture client relationships in a tight-knit community — a community that was increasingly becoming a meaningful part of his life.

Branching Out into the Community

A large part of that work/life balance has been Boateng’s lifelong love of the arts, and he actively pursues volunteer opportunities to “spread my horizons and see a different side of the artistic spectrum.” Long time fan of the performing arts such as opera and the symphony, he found himself connecting with a steering member of Ballet Kelowna and joined The Barre, a unique membership program designed to enhance the Ballet Kelowna experience for young professionals, with the aim of upping the membership’s younger demographic.

“I’m pretty sure I was there to round the committee out,” Boateng smiles. “There are three females and I’m the only guy, so I think that has something to do with it.” He has been active on the committee for more than a year and a half, and hopes to attract and build on a younger audience. “That type of social diversity, having an opportunity to experience the arts, whether it’s ballet or opera, the symphony, whatever it might be, I think is very, very important. And it’s important across all age spectrums.”

“That type of social diversity, having an opportunity to experience the arts, whether it’s ballet or opera, the symphony, whatever it might be, I think is very, very important. And it’s important across all age spectrums.”

Boateng has also kept close ties with his alma mater UBCO and has become an adjunct professor, guest lecturer and mentor to Faculty of Management students. Balanced against this, his busy role in the investment arena, where he believes having the practical chops — coupled with an innate, unfettered inquisitiveness — is crucial: “You have to be naturally curious about stuff in order to do this job well.”

Boateng ‘walks the walk’ when getting out and engaging with community, clients and prospects. He is continually looking for opportunities to help build value and wealth locally for clients and the greater community.

“A big part of my career now involves actively prospecting,” notes Boateng. “I have to generate my own business; I need to be able to find people and present the ‘value proposition’ in a way that’s compelling.” He smiles again. “It’s a lot of fun.”


Kwame supporting Motionball Marathon of Sport Kelowna

In the Kelowna community, he sat on the board for CRIS Adaptive Adventures, supports and actively participates in numerous events such as the Ovarian Cancer Canada Walk of Hope, the CIBC Run for the Cure and co-leads the November Project Kelowna, which he detailed via #kwamedoingthings, a self-effacing report on social media he sought to make “as entertaining an experience to you as possible.”

“Ultimately, we have a responsibility as people to our communities and our societies to try and make them better. If you don’t come from an authentic perspective or background and if you don’t have that kind of internal motivation to do good and to promote goodness in your community, what are you really doing?”

Looking back, Boateng says UBCO as a whole and instructors such as Norine Webster and Tamara Ebl taught him so much. In turn, the ongoing rigours of his career are teaching him more – all of it based on the bedrock of a loving upbringing and strong parental attitudes: “I came from a background where I was brought up believing or being told that you have to try 150 percent to stay in the same place as other people, and there is little margin for error. You have to present your best self at all times and you have to do things in an authentic manner because a), that’s the only way that’s sustainable and b), that’s the most fulfilling way to live your life.

“Ultimately, we have a responsibility as people to our communities and our societies to try and make them better. If you don’t come from an authentic perspective or background and if you don’t have that kind of internal motivation to do good and to promote goodness in your community, what are you really doing?”

The November Project Group

Story contributed by Jess Werb

Candice Loring standing by lake

Candice Loring, director of business development with Mitacs, surmounted incredible odds to achieve both academic and professional success. From her start at UBC’s Okanagan campus as a self-professed 27-year-old high-school dropout to her 2016 graduation from the Bachelor of Management (BMGT) program as a Ch’nook Scholar scholarship recipient Loring exemplified persistence, determination and academic excellence. Today, she remains a strong advocate for Indigenous people, and a powerful role model within the UBC and Okanagan communities.

Why did you choose to study at UBC Okanagan?

When I first came to UBCO I was 27, a stay-at-home mom, and a Grade 10 dropout. For me, university seemed like an unattainable dream. But one day I happened to join one of my good friends in a meeting with Dan Odenbach, Aboriginal Program Administrator with Aboriginal Programs and Services. I remember sitting there and, as I listened to Dan, realizing that I could actually get into the Access Studies program. Through the access program, I was accepted into the UBC Okanagan Bachelor of Management Program.

Candice LoringIn my first semester, my mom passed away from cancer just days before my first exams. But because of the incredible support of Aboriginal Programs and Services, and of my professors, I was able to get support. They made accommodations for me so I could deal with the loss of my mother and honor the promise I had made to her that I would continue with my studies. That was always a driving force behind my academic journey.



What did you enjoy most about your time as a student at UBC’s Okanagan campus?

What stands out to me the most is some of the incredible professors I had, who really want to make a difference and guide the next generation of business leaders. My professors really took the time to understand my unique Indigenous perspective, and how valuable it is. Roger Sugden, Dean of the Faculty of Management, also took the time to meet with me to talk about Indigenous ways of learning. Even though I was one of the only self-identified Indigenous students in my class, I felt that my Indigenous perspective was valued.

When I returned to campus as a Mitacs employee, the Faculty of Management was the first one I reached out to. In my first meeting with Dr. Eric Li, he called me a colleague, and that was such a compliment. To come back and have a professor call me a colleague was definitely transformative. After we finish university and we’re armed with all of these skills, we sometimes still feel like an imposter. At that moment, it felt like I’d made it. I didn’t feel like an imposter anymore.

“Even though I was one of the only self-identified Indigenous students in my class, I felt that my Indigenous perspective was valued.”

What about your time at UBC Okanagan was most valuable to your career success?

For me, it was my involvement within the campus Indigenous community. I was president of the Indigenous Student Association for four years, and I was able to work with other Indigenous students on initiatives that we truly cared about—that not only impacted our educational journey, but that would impact the educational journey of future generations. Being a part of a community gave me a sense of belonging, but it also gave me the ability to reach out and connect with other Indigenous students and professors, and create our own community. And my extracurricular activities led me to my first career opportunity.

“I was president of the Indigenous Student Association for four years, and I was able to work with other Indigenous students on initiatives that we truly cared about—that not only impacted our educational journey, but that would impact the educational journey of future generations. Being a part of a community gave me a sense of belonging, but it also gave me the ability to reach out and connect with other Indigenous students and professors, and create our own community.”

In Management, there was much encouragement surrounding the power of networking. As a young mom, I wasn’t able to attend as many Management Student Association events as I would have liked, but my involvement within the Indigenous community network led me to some amazing opportunities. I was recruited into my first job out of university as a Financial Service representative at TD Canada Trust  because of my volunteer work with the UBC development and alumni engagement team, where I worked and met with donors to help raise funding for Indigenous student scholarships and opportunities. After a year in that role, I was promoted to Account Manager for Small Business Banking.

I was also recruited to my current position by Dr. Deborah Buszard, UBCO’s former Deputy Vice-Chancellor (DVC) and Principal. I was on the DVC Indigenous advisory committee as a student, and later Dr. Buszard encouraged me to consider the opportunity with Mitacs. I’ve been so fortunate to be presented these opportunities, and it all stems from my student involvement and volunteering.

What does your role at Mitacs involve?

I like to consider myself a “matchmaker” between academia and industry. Mitacs is really the bridge between academia and industry, and my focus is on working with Indigenous organizations and Indigenous academics, both currently underrepresented in research funding. I also work with the Mitacs executive management team on decolonizing our programming and ensuring that we’re not repeating historical wrongs. Mitacs understands that, historically, research was done on Indigenous people and not for and with Indigenous people. We’re committed to changing that narrative to nothing about us without us.

Half of my time is spent within the university connecting with researchers, and the other half is spent connecting with industry and community organizations. When an organization has an innovation or research need, and they’re not sure how to tap in to top talent within post-secondary institutions, Mitacs can assist and help bridge that gap.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Having the opportunity to work with businesses and help them realize their needs, and help them create their innovation roadmap, is incredibly rewarding. On the flip side, being able to work with academics and help connect them to industry, and to provide students the opportunity to engage in experiential learning and community-engaged research experience, is incredible. All of the Mitacs projects are so different, so I never have a repetitive work week and I’m constantly learning.

What’s next in your career trajectory?

I think the best opportunities come when you don’t make plans. I didn’t expect to be working for Mitacs, and it has been one of the most incredible journeys I’ve been on. I try not to envision where I will be. I have faith that I’m on the right path, and I look forward to seeing where that path takes me.

Candice’s Top 5 Tips for making the most of your time as a student

1. Get involved.
It doesn’t have to be the typical things you think of, follow your interests. It could even be a sport; someone on your team might happen to be working at an organization that you could go on to work with. None of my network building was ever with the intention of leading to employment. It came from my personal interests, but it led to employment without me even knowing it.

2. Don’t be afraid to approach your professors. They’re dedicated to providing support, encouragement and guidance for all students. Reach out to them, go to their office hours, ask them questions, it means just as much to the professors as it does to the students.

3. Ask for help. I would never have finished university if I hadn’t been able to ask for help. I experienced a great deal of trauma in my personal life during my time at university. I reached out to the many resources available within post secondary. I asked for help when life happened, and there were people lined up with open arms ready to support me.

4. Stay focused on your goals. No matter what happened, I told myself that I couldn’t walk away until I finished that undergraduate degree. I kept my eye on the end goal of having that piece of paper and walking across that stage. Start small, finish the next project, complete the course, finish the term, build in manageable goals that lead towards that end goal. 

5. Try to enjoy every step of the way. Your time in university is literally one of the best times of your life. Try not to spend time worrying about what other people think about you or your choices. Just be bold and jump at opportunities. And have fun!