Image: “This collage is a glimpse of my journey with InnoLab so far, loving it!”
This series introduces the members of University of Vaasa’s InnoLab research platform. Today we’re meeting Khuram Shahzad.
What are you?
I’m the one who really believes in innovating mindsets at first hand, and perhaps that makes me an InnoLabber as well. A politico with opinion, coffee lover, sports freak and a cricket enthusiast, and of course how could I deny that I am a PhD in industrial management?
Your title at InnoLab is postdoctoral researcher, but what exactly do you do?
In addition to playing around with very dear research and aggressive funding applications, I promote collaboration in our activities and represent InnoLab at different forums. Arranging future workshops, innovation challenges, hackathons etc. etc. are some of my tasks where I really drag people to co-create, I love doing it. Of course, it’s about societal impact. By the way, my coffee has received some good reviews from our office at InnoLab.
Sounds like a lot of work. Why bother?
Making coffee? No, it’s not a lot of work! Well, I like research of course, and that’s why I am crazy about it. The well-honed skills of drafting funding applications, the art of writing and collaborating with consortium partners (sometimes with disagreements, and that’s actually the beauty of collaboration), the inclusion aspect in collaboration, breaking your closed box to emerge, and most importantly the people around you – that is the true motivation. Well, the African proverb really is spot on: ‘If you want to go fast, go alone but if you want to go far, go together.’ That’s exactly my motivation. And yeah, monthly salary is one part of it!
Fair enough. So how did you end up where you are now?
Higher studies (Master degree) brought me to Vaasa (from Pakistan to Vaasa) and again higher studies (PhD) brought me to Vaasa (From Helsinki to Vaasa). I belong to academia, and I think I’ve found my niche which I really like.
Imagine your phone rings. It’s the call you’ve been hoping for – what is it about?
Sanna Marin (The Finnish PM) asking about to take over and improve cricket in Finland. Damn, now that’s something!
Just kidding, it’s actually a journalist. They’re finally doing a story on that one topic you’ve always wanted to give an interview on! What do you say?
Haha! I knew. Well well well, while working around the topics of industrial management, digitalisation and innovation, I would really want to emphasize the talent retention issues in industry. It’s a topical dilemma and many countries are already losing talent, especially Finland.
An important statement. Too bad you can’t be the resident expert on every topic. What would you like to learn more about?
Oh well, so many topics that I cannot even cover everything here. I think I should explore digital servitization more, I’m really into it. Also, if I found some time (hopefully someday), I would definitely explore different comparative political history perspectives – history has often been recorded in two opposite ways.
Sounds interesting. Is that something I, too, should be concerned about?
Digital servitization, maybe! Comparative history, definitely yes! Digital servitization is emerging rapidly and the role of digital technologies in this product-service offering is worth exploring in terms of their implementation in different firms at different levels. You would be really overwhelmed with the challenges and opportunities. On the other hand, as said, political history has been manipulated and maneuvered quite a bit, under different influences and interests – why not to take a look at both accurate and distorted perspectives?
Okay. Now recommend me something – anything!
I just recommended you look into different historical perspectives. Would you go for it? I am not sure!
Well, for a recommendation: play cricket with us on a sunny day, but remember to bring all safety equipment with you!
Any last advice for being both an effective researcher and a happy office worker?
Try to love whatever you do, believe me you would love it! It is the cherry on the cake.
From the perspective of Khuram’s colleagues: If Khuram was fresh produce, what would he be?
“He would be an apple. First of all, I really like apples. Secondly, just as Khuram, also apples are truly versatile – only one’s imagination limits the use. To me, apples are classics – honest and real.”
“Tomato – it is so versatile and has so many applications that it can be used anywhere.”
“Bananas are loved all around the world, and there’s no environment or use they couldn’t handle. There’s also something inherently humorous in bananas, so I think they describe Khuram well!”