Dr. Abe Bakhsheshy has been named a recipient of The New Pioneers – American Dream Award, which honors immigrants who have made significant contributions to Utah’s economy and community.
“I am very honored and very touched,” said Bakhsheshy, David Eccles School of Business Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative director and professor and professor (lecturer) of Organizational Behavior. “What makes this country great is its ability to embrace people from different parts of the world who are pursuing their passion. Incorporating this series of innovative, creative ideas that people bring in makes us stronger as a culture and gives us a competitive advantage.”
Bakhsheshy, who has taught at the Eccles School for more than 20 years, first came to the United States from Iran when he was in his late teens to pursue a graduate degree. A visit from the University of Utah’s then-President David Gardner to Bakhsheshy’s hometown of Tehran sold him on Utah, which had a similar climate and landscape to Tehran. When he first arrived in the United States, he started in Oklahoma, where he took English classes to further refine his language skills. Then, he moved to Utah to attend the U.
In order to support himself, he began working as a pot washer in the kitchens of the University of Utah Hospital as a student worker. Eventually, he moved up to dishwasher, then worked the food tray line, and eventually became a team leader, manager and finally a director.
“I don’t think I’m any smarter than the next person, but it was the power of love and compassion that helped me get those promotions,” Bakhsheshy said. “Empathy and caring for others is so powerful that they can change lives. When I look at myself in the mirror, I want to make sure I’m doing everything I can to deserve that level of investment that people had in me.”
The guidance and help from others, coupled with his own hard work, helped Bakhsheshy earn a doctorate in educational administration and human resource management. After working in the private sector after graduating, he was finally able to pursue his passion of teaching in the early 1990s. He works every day to pay forward the kindness Americans showed him as an immigrant to a new country.
“This award that they’re giving me really, genuinely belongs to all of the people who motivated me, inspired me and coached me,” Bakhsheshy said. “The level of compassion they showed to this bashful and shy introvert, their genuine interest, shaped me into who I am today. Through the power of love, we have the power to change people’s lives. I’ve been a beneficiary of that, and the very least I can do is to give it back.”
The New Pioneers – American Dream Award was created by the Salt Lake Chamber and United Way of Salt Lake to honor the contributions immigrants make to Utah on a daily basis.
“This new award program helps to remind us all about the positive impact from immigrants who have helped to shape Utah’s history since the Mormon Pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley in 1847 as refugees fleeing religious persecution,” said Lane Beattie, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber. “That shared cultural memory informs our values and beliefs today. This award honors that legacy by recognizing new pioneers who contribute to our state.”
Bakhsheshy will be honored alongside community activist Pamela Atkinson; Jorge Fierro, owner of Fierro Group, Rico Brand, Frida Bistro and Rico Catering; and Dinesh Patel, managing director and founder of Patel Family Investments. An awards luncheon, featuring a keynote address from Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, will take place on Wednesday, April 19 from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Hilton Salt Lake City Center, 255 S. West Temple.
For more information about the event, please visit slchamber.com.
About the David Eccles School of Business
The Eccles School is synonymous with ‘doing.’ The Eccles experience provides a world-class business education with a unique, entrepreneurial focus on real-world scenarios where students put what they learn into practice long before graduation. Founded in 1917 and educating more than 6,000 students annually, the University of Utah David Eccles School of Business offers eight undergraduate majors, four MBAs, seven other graduate programs, a Ph.D. in seven areas and executive education curricula. The School is also home to nine institutes, centers and initiatives that deliver academic research and support an ecosystem of entrepreneurship and innovation. For more information, visit Eccles.Utah.edu or call 801-581-7676.