DeGroote celebrates first grad from finance PhD program
Umar Butt successfully defended his doctoral dissertation entitled “Three Essays in Corporate Finance” on July 12 in front of supervisor Trevor Chamberlain, as well as a PhD committee of financial experts.
Butt refers to himself as the “guinea pig” of the program since he is the first DeGroote PhD student to graduate from the Finance stream. He is also the first to endure a two-hour long question and answer period for his defense. The PhD committee had eight weeks to prepare tough questions specific to Butt’s three essays. His research interests lie in the field of corporate governance, fixed income and asset pricing.
“I thought the dissertation would be a formality, but it was not,” Butt says. The questions asked were different than what he expected, so it was not an easy task. “The drawback of being the guinea pig was that no one else told me how hard it was going to be.” However, Butt was well prepared and walked away from his defense as the first Doctor of Finance from McMaster University.
Butt joined the PhD program at DeGroote in 2007. Initially, McMaster was off the radar. He had never even heard of the university before. Born and raised in Pakistan, Butt completed his undergraduate degree in stats and economics followed by a Master’s of Public Administration at Punjab University. He later went overseas to the United States for his MBA at Texas A & M (Agricultural and Mechanical) University.
He returned to Pakistan in 2002 and started an academic career at Government College University. However, distributing knowledge as a teacher was not satisfying enough for Butt. “In academia, you can conduct your own research and create your own knowledge,” he says. This was the main reason he decided to continue his education at the PhD level.
Butt was offered admission to the Finance PhD program at Texas Tech University.
However, his sister and her husband moved to Canada in 2004 and suggested Butt look into McMaster University. He missed the deadline for DeGroote, but still applied and was put on the waiting list. Luckily for Butt, he eventually was accepted to the inaugural Finance program at DeGroote and ended up as the first to graduate.
What’s next for Butt?
In 2006, Butt took a vacation with his wife, Shumaila, to Dubai. He recalls her telling him that it would be really nice if he could get a job there. “It took me six years, but I did it,” he says. Butt has been offered a teaching position at Zayed University in finance. Butt along with Shumailia and their children, Mishaal, 8 and Mohammad, 3 will pack up and move to Dubai on August 14.
When asked how it feels to be the first PhD graduate of his kind from DeGroote, Butt responded, “It feels nice, it feels great. I feel very accomplished.”