Faculty, Why Dyson

Quick Q & A: Jawad Addoum


Father, basketball fan, and passionate about finance—learn a little more about Jawad Addoum, assistant professor of finance at the Dyson School.

Q: How would your best friend describe you?

A: They would describe me as passionate. If I really care about something, I’m going to put everything I have into it and not pay attention to anything else. I’m very passionate about finance, finance research, and teaching. The same is true for the opposite, though. If I don’t care about something, I really won’t pay attention to it. So maybe my friends would also consider me volatile.

Q: If you were the CEO of a company, name one thing you would make compulsory in the office and one thing you would ban in the office.

A: If I were the CEO, I would make it compulsory for everyone to watch March Madness, and UNC basketball fans would be banned from the office.

Q: If you were a fictional character, who would you be and why?

A: Fresh Prince. I grew up watching Fresh Prince—he’s this funny guy, likes basketball, and doesn’t take life 100 percent seriously. He was really iconic in my childhood and I feel like I identify with him. Like him, I grew up with a single mom and also had an uncle who was very influential on me. Fresh Prince is definitely a character I identify with.

Q: When did you know you wanted to be a professor?

A: Honestly, I got lucky. I had a meeting with a professor who was in charge of writing recommendations at a university level for a government grant/scholarship in Canada. I was just talking to him about graduate and law schools in the United States, and he really helped me figure out that I was passionate about finance. Essentially, after a two-hour discussion, he asked me why I wasn’t applying to PhD finance programs in the U.S. I told him I never really considered it.

I went home that weekend for Canadian Thanksgiving and spent three days in my pajamas reading papers and researching what a PhD in finance entailed and what life as a professor was like. I came out of that weekend knowing that this was the right thing for me to do. This was in October and I applied by early December. I went to Duke for my PhD and never looked back—that was 10 years ago. I kind of just fell backward into becoming a professor. I got lucky. This conversation was really life changing. If I didn’t have that meeting, I wouldn’t be here.

Q: What do you like best about teaching at Cornell?

A: The students for sure. I really enjoy the intellectual curiosity of the students here at Cornell. The best thing is that they are not only intelligent, but also curious. After class they have questions; office hours are stimulating for the students and for me and other professors as well. They discuss the topics in depth, talk to me about their careers, and want to learn about my research. It’s really the students I enjoy.

Q: Who is your idol?

A: When I was younger, Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant were my idols because I’m a big basketball fan. Now, I don’t have an idol. There are just a lot of people that I respect and admire. There is not one specific person I am trying to emulate. Rather, I try to take bits and pieces of the habits and characteristics of the people I admire and incorporate those into my daily life and try to improve myself. Some of these people are my colleagues, and some are friends that I’ve had long, lasting relationships with. These people have integrity, are passionate, and have some other traits that I admire. As I meet new people, this group tends to change as well.

Q: What do you like to do for fun in Ithaca ?

A: I love to go on hikes with my family, especially with my oldest daughter, who’s three and a half. We have a great time on our hikes at Treman State Park and Buttermilk Falls. I also recently started playing pick-up basketball and driveway basketball. I actually play with people from the Cornell community—some of them are fellow finance faculty. Besides that, I like to spend time with the family, especially when I’m not here working on research.

Q: What is your favorite experience from growing up?

A: When I was nine, I lived in Germany for about six months. It’s really cool to live somewhere else, being able to see the differences in a new country. I was in fourth grade, so I was able to meet new friends, and the people treated me really well. Actually, they treated me kind of like a celebrity because I was from Canada. I think they thought it was exciting that I lived so close to the United States. This is actually a little embarrassing, but one kid in my class had a birthday party, and the theme was “what a north American party would be.” There were burgers, we went bowling. It wasn’t even my birthday! This time was one of the highlights of my childhood.

Q: If you could have any superpower what would it be and why?

A: I would want to travel in time. I want to stop time, because sometimes, it feels like time is going by a little too quickly. This really revolves around my kids. I would want to see them go through different milestones. Right now, my kids are three-and-a-half and one-and-a-half years old. I want to go back and relive their young moments. You only get to experience each of these moments once, and I would want to relive those moments as much as I can.

Q: What is a fun fact about you?

A: English is my third spoken language. The first language I actually understood was Farsi. My mom spoke that with me. The first language I spoke was Polish. I was born in Poland and lived there for the first two-and-a-half years of my life. My parents were students there at the time. Then, I moved to Canada and, according to my Mom, spent a lot of time and effort trying to learn English. Now, I forgot Polish but can still speak Farsi. If I really try, I can still make out some Polish if I hear people speaking it.

Jawad Addoum is an assistant professor of finance and a Robert R. Dyson Sesquicentennial Fellow in the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management. Jawad’s research focuses on portfolio choice, empirical asset pricing, and behavioral finance. His current work examines the determinants of investment decision-making among individual and institutional investors, as well as the effects of investor behavior on stock returns. Jawad’s research has been published in leading academic journals, including the Journal of Finance, Review of Financial Studies, Review of Economics and Statistics, and Management Science.

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