Profile of Raad Jassim: Winner of the Award for Distinguished Teaching

2011-2012 Issue 1

Raad Jassim with McGill Principal Heather Munroe-Blum

Raad Jassim with McGill Principal Heather Munroe-Blum

WITH YOUR BACKGROUND IN ENGINEERING, ARCHITECTURE, URBAN PLANNING, MANAGEMENT AND FINANCE, AS WELL AS PROJECT MANAGEMENT AND REAL ESTATE, YOU SEEM TO BE A ONE-MAN UNIVERSITY. DO YOU HAVE TROUBLE LIMITING DISCUSSIONS IN YOUR FINANCE COURSES TO JUST FINANCE?

[Laughs] Well, I tell my students that finance does not exist in a vacuum. It is all about real-life issues, which we cover in our class work. For example, my students may do assignments on engineering projects, financial evaluations or securities. My background helps bridge all of these fields, which is important when we bring Wall Street and Bay Street into the classroom. That way, they will appreciate how things are connected and all the variables that affect the world of finance.

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN TEACHING AND WHAT DO YOU TEACH HERE?

I’ve been teaching here since 1995. I have a long history at McGill. I’m a two-time graduate, first with a Master of Urban Planning degree at the Faculty of Engineering and then I earned a Diploma in Management (Finance Major) from Continuing Education back in 1993. I’ve probably taught the whole spectrum of finance courses at SCS. As well, I teach at other universities in Canada, the U.S. and Europe.

WHAT MOTIVATES YOU TO TEACH?

Teaching is my passion! It’s my hobby, actually. [Laughs] My professional background is as an architect and a chartered administrator – I consider those positions to be 9-to-5-type jobs. But as a teacher it’s different – if I’m up at 1:00 or 2:00 am responding to student requests by email that’s because it’s my hobby. It’s very satisfying for me to share my time and expertise with my students.

HOW DO YOU ENGAGE YOUR STUDENTS TO FACILITATE LEARNING?

As a subject, finance theories can be rather dry, so depending on the class, I first try to make students comfortable by welcoming them with greetings in different languages like Spanish, Chinese and Polish. Often at the beginning of class we talk about important current financial events and news. In the classwork, I use these topics as a pivot to get into the course curriculum. When covering complex material, I’ll take a break after 15 minutes and ask, “Is that clear?” And so it doesn’t get too monotonous, I try to lighten things up with humour.

In terms of materials, I use detailed outlines so they can see everything that we will be covering and what their responsibilities are. I might show videos or CBC financial documentaries. I also strive for a lot of interaction. In terms of assessment, I give quizzes and go over them right away to assess how much knowledge students are acquiring. I want to assess their learning well before class tests, so I give them assignments, projects and presentations, too.

WHAT DO YOU WANT STUDENTS TO TAKE AWAY FROM YOUR COURSES?

Financial knowledge that they can apply to their personal or professional situations. I want to make sure they take something away above and beyond any certificate or diploma they may earn – something they will remember for the rest of their lives.

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT RECEIVING THIS AWARD?

It’s been very rewarding and encouraging. I have a lot of respect for this new designation and will strive to maintain a high standard of teaching that’s worthy of the award.

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