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Promising Research

December 1, 2021 - -
Upshot of Econ PhD student Sadek Showcat

Entrepreneurship is about investing in you—your idea, plan, perseverance, and making that investment pay off. It’s calculating the risk, eyeing the reward, and making a leap of faith. Sadek Showkat understands risk/reward and betting on himself. In the past five years, Sadek has gone from his home in Bangladesh to work for a multinational corporation in China as a COO to pursuing his PhD in Entrepreneurship at UofL. He splits his time between Louisville and Bloomington, Indiana—where his wife Shukufe is pursuing her PhD in Science education and his daughter Sehrish is attending elementary school. While there’s a lot of actual miles and life clocked here, his work is paying off. Sadek has recently been named the “Most Promising Junior Entrepreneurship Scholar Award” from the 2021 Virtual Summer Seminar in Entrepreneurship Research (VSSER).

Impacting poverty

A desire to study the root causes of poverty and sustainably to improve the quality of life is at the heart of Sadek’s work—being able to move from research into the practical had helped inspire his initial transition from the corporate world. “As you go higher up the ladder, you do more on the personnel side—you learn more about people and less about skills,” says Sadek. Conversely, his innate drive as a lifelong learner (for which he credits the upbringing by his parents Showkat and Selina back in Bangladesh) meant discovering the way, according to Sadek, “to increase my bandwidth to help other people.”

This shift ultimately led him to a conversation with Dr. Jim Fiet about the PhD program at UofL. “Reaching out to people who are poor and discovering what kind of policies and how entrepreneurship is helping them grow—that led me [to this study]. My focus is on the intersection of poverty and entrepreneurship.”

Meanwhile, Sadek has already started exploring the spaces that help inform economic policy. “For example,” says Sadek, “think about the adage ‘to teach a man to fish…’ if everyone knows how to fish and is fishing, the economic value of selling the fish is the same, and nobody is [prospering]. So what I’m trying to understand is how we can teach them how to find attractive opportunities instead of having the same opportunities—within the context of poverty.”

Award winning candidate

Sadek is in his second year of the PhD program and has taken advantage of academic seminars, taking a combination of virtual and in-person events. The VSSER program is a two-month seminar conducted by Dr. Vishal Gupta from the University of Alabama. There were 200 doctoral candidates in entrepreneurship from around the world participating in the symposium.

While his initial motivation to attend VSSER was to keep himself motivated and focused on entrepreneurial research over the summer, he never imagined that he would be an award winner. “I was overwhelmed when I found out…very proud,” Sadek pauses, as if still in disbelief. To him, the award has been a much-needed boost—as many graduate students in the throes of study will tell you, it’s often difficult to gauge progress while in pursuit of the advanced degree. If Sadek needed a sign, the VSSER award is as bold and bright as his academic prospects.

Sustainable research

As his second year continues, Sadek hopes to carry this momentum into his research. With conference presentations and publications on the horizon, he is also mindful of the larger goal—policy that can improve the lives in his native Bangladesh and beyond. “I have seen professors [in my field] who are doing meaningful and responsible research which can provide value for the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals…I want to meet real people and share their stories through my research.”