Anavir Shermon is a doctoral student in the Strategy Ph.D. Program within Kenan-Flagler Business School. He spent his early years in Mumbai, India before moving to Toronto, Canada, and he completed his bachelor’s degree in industrial and operations engineering in 2017 at the University of Michigan. “I enjoy taking on big questions and systematically working through data and interacting with experts to get answers,” he says.
What made you choose UNC-Chapel Hill when deciding on a program/place to study?
The decision practically made itself! The moment I began communicating with my department at the business school, I knew that I wanted to be here. Kenan-Flagler’s reputation for research and high-quality teaching is unparalleled. The research conducted by the faculty in my department at the intersection of innovation, strategy and entrepreneurship really resonated with my interests. Outside the business school, I am really drawn to UNC’s rich history and diversity in intellectual thought. Top it off with Carolina basketball, the Research Triangle’s thriving entrepreneurial scene and North Carolina being the birthplace of pimento cheese, and I was sold!
Tell us about your research.
New technologies always generate extensive hype about their potential. However, uncertainty often surrounds what the technology is and what the technology can do. In some cases, such as artificial intelligence, electricity, steam engines, drones and the internet, these technologies find multiple uses. These “general-purpose” technologies contribute extensively to long-term economic growth. Consider the role the internet and electricity have played in spurring innovation! Almost every individual, entrepreneur and company relies on both every day. Today, technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning and drones all exhibit similar characteristics.
I study how new industries emerge around such “general-purpose” technologies. Specifically, I explore the role entrepreneurs and large firms play in innovating with the new technology and the various strategies they use to bring it to market. Understanding the role entrepreneurs and firms play in adopting and diffusing general-purpose technologies is of paramount importance because it can help shed light on how we can support them during technological change in order to enable further economic growth.
What are some of your favorite places and things to do in your home country?
I consider both Toronto, Canada and Mumbai, India to be home. Both cities are bordered by water – Mumbai is by the Arabian Sea and Toronto is by Lake Ontario. I truly appreciate the ability to shuttle quickly between calm water and the fast-paced downtown cores of the cities. My favorite thing to do in Mumbai is watch the rain during monsoon season while relishing too many mangoes. In Toronto, getting a Canadian Maple donut at Tim Hortons while watching the Raptors take down the Golden State Warriors is now my new favorite thing to do!
What are you hoping to accomplish with your Carolina degree?
After I graduate, I hope to pursue a career in academia as a professor in a business school. I enjoy taking on big questions and systematically working through data and interacting with experts to get answers. The opportunity to do that for the rest of my life sounds irresistible. I enjoy teaching and would be thrilled to engage with students who will challenge me every day. At the same time, I am passionate about supporting local entrepreneurship and would like to serve by working with the local startup community.