Weatherhead welcomes six new faculty members | Weatherhead School at Case Western Reserve University

Weatherhead welcomes six new faculty members

Posted 8.24.2022

Weatherhead School of Management welcomes six new faculty members to the school this semester.

Alireza Fallahtafti, Michael Goulder, Jose Olavarria, Mary Sasmaz, Sining Wang and Maryam Zokaeiniko join Weatherhead’s faculty across four departments: accountancy, banking and finance, economics and operations.

Get to know the new Weatherhead faculty members, as they answer questions on what courses they’ll be teaching this semester, how they like to spend their time outside of the classroom and what they are most proud of in their careers so far:


Alireza Fallahtafti, assistant professor of operations

Photo of AlirezaPrior to Weatherhead, Alireza was a visiting assistant professor for the Farmer School of Business at Miami University. He has more than ten years of experience in the banking and telecommunication industries in operations management and analytics-related positions. He has had several papers published in prestigious academic journals and international conferences. His research focuses on predictive and prescriptive analytics, large-scale optimization, and machine learning and their applications in real-world problems, such as supply chain and logistics. 

What led you to Weatherhead?

It was a good match between my background and the position (teaching and research interests and business experience). Weatherhead is one of the best business schools and CWRU is a top-ranked, well-known university. The school has world-class faculty, as well as intelligent and hardworking students. Weatherhead’s innovative curriculum infuses business with analytics and makes students competitive for in-demand positions.

What courses will you be teaching this semester?

OPRE 207: Statistics for business and management science. This course provides an introduction to the concepts and applications of statistics in management.

OPRE301: Operations Research and Supply Chain Management. This course is an introduction to operations research, also called management science, focusing on applying operations research tools to manage business and organizations’ supply chain operations through applying advanced mathematical methods to help make better decisions.

What are you most excited about for this semester at Weatherhead?

I am excited to meet my new colleagues and students. I see faculty and staff at CWRU being very supportive. I also know the faculty are knowledgeable and the students are bright. Everybody likes to be a member of such a great academic community. I also like Cleveland and the state-of-the-art building of Weatherhead School of Management very much.

What are you most proud of in your career so far?

The proudest thing as a professor might be my students' high satisfaction with my teaching and publishing papers in prestigious academic journals.

Also, I am proud of receiving several honors and awards, such as: Best Track Paper Award in 5th North American Industrial Engineering and Operations Management Conference, Detroit, 2020; Advisory Board - Graduate Representative from the Industrial and Systems Engineering department at Ohio University, 2020; ISE Student Scholarship Award from Industrial and Systems Engineering Department at Ohio University, 2020 and 2021; Student of Outstanding Academic Performance at Ohio University, 2020; and Eminent Banking Research Scholar by the Monetary and Banking Research Institute (MBRI), 2017.

How do you like to spend your time outside of teaching?

I’m interested in fitness, soccer, running, cycling, hiking, swimming, badminton and tennis. I also love traveling and cooking.


Michael Goulder, assistant professor of operations and director of the Master of Supply Chain Management program

Photo of MichaelMichael began teaching as an adjunct professor at Weatherhead during his second year in the Doctor of Management program. In August, he earned his Doctor of Management in Business degree, just in time for him to begin his new role as a full-time professor.

What led you to teach at Weatherhead?

I wanted to see what it was like to be on the other side of the classroom. As it turned out, I really enjoyed it. The DM program and my adventures as an adjunct were both part of my encore career transition. Prior to enrolling in the DM program, I had a long and enjoyable career as a supply chain practitioner, spending about half my career in management consulting firms; I was a partner in the firms of McKinsey and Booz Allen. The other half of my career was in executive roles. I was the COO for American Greetings and the SVP of supply chain for Joann Fabrics. I absolutely loved my business career, but wanted to do something different before retiring… so here I am!

What courses will you be teaching this semester?

Operations (MBAP-408): The core operations course for part-time MBAs covering the design of products and processes, the acquisition of resources, the conversion of inputs to outputs, and the distribution of goods and services.

Lean Operations (SCMG-422): A continuous improvement course that applies the classic Toyota Production System (TPS) methodologies of waste reduction using value stream mapping, 5S, defect reduction, quick changeover, visual management, Kanban systems, Kaizen events, etc.

Supply Chain Strategy (SCMG-460): This course “connects the dots” between business strategies and operational tactics. The all-important missing link is supply chain strategy!

Operational Excellence (SCMG-478): An advanced continuous improvement course focusing on the principles of total quality management and qualitative analytic techniques such as affinity mapping and pareto analysis.

What are you most excited about for this semester at Weatherhead?

After four years of preparing for this new role, I am delighted to be a full-time faculty member. My longer-term goal is to make a contribution to the development of the next generation of supply-chain leaders, as my generation sails into the sunset (so to speak).

What are you most proud of in your career so far?

When I joined American Greetings after a decade in management consulting, I was excited to “practice what I preached.” I wanted to see if I could lead an organization through transformational change. I found the journey challenging and ultimately rewarding.

What is a fun fact about yourself?

My wife and I have five wonderful children, now adults, including two identical twins, who when younger, would try to confuse me as to who was who… and often succeeded!


Jose Olavarria, assistant professor of banking and finance

Photo of JoseJose earned his Master of Science in Finance degree from Weatherhead in 2016 and has been an adjunct professor at Weatherhead for over three years. Prior to Weatherhead, Jose was working as a product manager at USAA, managing their auto insurance lines of business for a number of states.

What courses will you be teaching this semester?

Corporate Finance (BAFI 355): Undergraduate course designed to familiarize students with the concepts and tools used in corporate financial management, such as time value of money, securities valuation, risk and return analysis, and other financial analysis techniques.

Corporate Financial Analysis (FNCE 421): Graduate course designed to lay the analytic foundation for careers in corporate finance, banking, consulting and investment banking. Topics covered include economic cash flows and valuation, valuation methods, and financial ratios analysis, among others.

What are you most excited about for this semester at Weatherhead?

I’m looking forward to being able to interact more with students and help them not only with coursework and school projects, but also with career advice.

What are you most proud of in your career so far?

Being able to mentor students and see them succeed in their professional careers after they graduate brings me great joy.

What is a fun fact about yourself?

I own a 16-acre ranch where I plan to start small farm operations primarily using permaculture techniques. I’m also very passionate about personal finance and real estate, and could talk about these topics for hours.


Mary Sasmaz, assistant professor of accountancy

Photo of MaryMary has been associated with Weatherhead since 2005, when she began teaching as an adjunct professor. She continued doing so from 2007-2011, all while working as a certified public accountant and financial planner. She received her master’s degree in accountancy in 2005 and a PhD in accounting in 2019 from Weatherhead.

What were you doing before coming on as a full-time Weatherhead faculty member?

Upon completing my doctorate in 2019 at CWRU, I became a full-time assistant professor at Baldwin Wallace University where I taught courses in taxation, as well as managerial and cost accounting. Prior to my doctoral program, I spent over 15 years as a practicing accountant where my career included experience in public accounting, personal financial planning and family office arenas. Additionally, entrepreneurial activities in my family have varied and included real estate investments and restaurant ownership!

What courses will you be teaching this semester?

In the fall of 2022, I will be teaching multiple sections of Accounting 100. The course introduces both financial and managerial accounting concepts to all Weatherhead business students. This is a business core course that teaches students the language of business (i.e. accounting) mastery of which enables students to become communicators and decision makers in all areas of the business environment.

What are you most excited about for this semester at Weatherhead?

I am excited to be back at Weatherhead and to see many familiar faces! I look forward to meeting new people including staff and students, and am excited to be part of a team that sees and understands the value accounting knowledge provides for the future career success of business students! I am also very excited to hear about and take part in research that is happening around campus!

What are you most proud of in your career so far?

I am most proud of my professional reputation. I believe that a strong professional reputation is an important component for success in business as it contributes to building a supportive network and can open the door to many unplanned opportunities.

How do you like to spend your time outside of teaching?

I love travel, especially world travel! This year, my family enjoyed a visit to Milan, Italy and Turkey. Students will find that I am a strong proponent of studying abroad as I believe the exposure to other cultures can have such a prominent effect on one’s life, including thinking processes. My first international travel was as an exchange student in Spain for an extra year of high school and I haven’t stopped traveling since. I also enjoy hiking and mowing the lawn (but I really don’t like using the weed eater!)


Sining Wang, assistant professor of economics

Photo of SiningFor the last three years, Sining has taught principles of microeconomics, computational economics and behavioral economics at Weatherhead as a postdoctoral scholar. Sining had a joint appointment at the Unify Labs as a computational economist and lead data scientist. From 2017-2019, he was a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Waterloo. From 2016-2017, he was a visiting assistant professor at Kalamazoo College. Sining received his PhD and master’s degree in economics from the University of Connecticut and his bachelor’s degree from Renmin University of China.

What courses will you be teaching this semester?

Principles of Microeconomics: In microeconomics, we learn about the actions of individuals in the economy. The study materials will help students understand the behaviors of households, firms and individuals.

Computational Economics: Over the past two decades, computational methods have become an indispensable tool in social science studies. The goal of this course is to introduce undergraduate students to numerical methods and computer implementations for conducting modern quantitative research in economics and social sciences.

Behavioral Economics: This course is designed to introduce students to the evolving field of behavioral economics—an emerging field of study that lies at the boundary that divides economics and psychology.

What are you most excited about for this semester at Weatherhead?

Seeing and engaging with students both in and out of the classroom.

What are you most proud of in your career so far?

Developing and teaching computational economics at Weatherhead.

What are some fun facts about yourself?

I was born and grew up in Beijing. I have an irrational enthusiasm for football (known as soccer in America). My favorite clubs are Guoan FC (my hometown club) and Liverpool FC. I love cooking for families and friends. I also like movies, especially anything starring Al Pacino.

Maryam Zokaeiniko, assistant professor of operations

Photo of MaryamBefore coming to Weatherhead, Maryam was an assistant professor at the Smeal College of Business at Pennsylvania State University. Prior to that, she worked at the Cleveland Clinic as a postdoctoral research fellow for about a year, while teaching at Weatherhead as an adjunct professor in the spring of 2021.

What courses will you be teaching this semester?

I will teach Data Mining and Visualization (BUAI 434) and Statistics for Business and Management Science (OPRE 207) this semester.

In BUAI 434 students will learn the process of identifying new patterns and insights in data and presenting them in an easy-to-understand and useful manner. Insight derived from data mining can provide tremendous economic value, often crucial to businesses looking for competitive advantages.

In OPRE 207, students will be introduced to the concepts and applications of statistics in management. The course covers various techniques for organizing, analyzing, and presenting data, questioning assumptions and interpreting the results.

What are you most excited about for this semester at Weatherhead?

I’m so excited to meet many students and faculty members at Weatherhead in the fall semester. It is great that we will have in-person classes and can benefit from live interactions with our students.

What are you most proud of in your career so far?

In my research, I developed interpretable artificial intelligence models to help diagnose chronic and infectious diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease and COVID-19, early in the course of the disease. This helps clinicians start treatment earlier, which can prevent subsequent complications and improve patient health outcomes.

Teaching wise, I enjoy educating my students and assisting them in developing the skills required to apply their knowledge to real-world problems. For example, I have had several students who wrote to me after graduation to tell me that they were applying what they learned in my data mining class in their job as a business analyst.

How do you like to spend your time outside of teaching?

I enjoy hiking and exploring the beautiful nature of Ohio and the Cleveland Metroparks. I also enjoy playing basketball.


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