Faculty Spotlight: Elizabeth Goins – Business Communications

Written by Nandita Daga

Dr. Elizabeth Goins is currently teaching BA324H, the foundational Canfield BHP Business communication course. Although new to CBHP, she finds teaching CBHP students a rewarding experience because “[they] truly engage with the learning process and bring so much interesting experience to the classroom. I love hearing about their big ideas and big dreams, and that I get the opportunity to help turn those into realities.”

Dr. Goins’ dreams are what led her here to us in Austin. Ten years ago, she was on K Street (Washington D.C.’s lobbying industry) and working with C-suite executives. Her lingering wish of getting a doctorate led her to apply to UT, which has one of the best communication programs nationally. She started graduate school thinking she’d leave as a researcher, but her grad school “side hustles” – as an athletic tutor, assistant director of the University Writing Center, instructor of writing and public speaking, and MBA coach – helped her discover a new calling. Although she has built a successful consulting business post-graduation, her closest passion is still teaching.

Her teaching philosophy is based on pragmatism, which believes that education should be practically applicable to life. She provides examples of how class material will help students be more successful at work, have better relationships, and set themselves apart from the competition. These examples come from her professional experiences, current issues facing companies from different industries, and the latest in business communication research. Dr. Goins believes that BA324H is an essential course because you can be the smartest person in the room, but if you don’t know how to communicate your ideas and persuade people, you’ll never be a successful leader. The BA324H course is particularly empowering, because becoming a skilled communicator is all about practicing and getting feedback – just like playing piano or soccer. Her goal is that wherever a student begins, they will feel more confident about their communication skills after taking her class.

To students, she offers some words of wisdom: “You face so much pressure when it comes to grades, and as someone with an anxiety disorder, I often worry about what that constant stress does to you. But here’s a secret: after your first job or application to graduate school, no one will care about your GPA. ​I had a 3.2 in undergrad and it’s never held me back from anything…What you’ll really remember from this time are the classes that changed your thinking, the experiences that shaped your identity, and the people who became your family. Focus on becoming the best version of yourself while you’re here, and the rest will take care of itself”.

When not in class, you can find Dr. Goins doing yoga, circuit training, spinning, and hiking with her husband. She also enjoys gardening, traveling, and camping (right now she’s into road trips and National Parks). On the less active side, Dr. Goins loves a good Netflix or Amazon binge and is re-watching The Good Wife and The Good Place and about to finish the latest season of The Man in the High Castle. If you would like to learn more about her, email her at elizabethgoins@utexas.edu or drop by her office at GSB 4.126H! ​

Student Profile: Oby Umelloh

Oby Umelloh

Majors: Business Honors, Management Information Systems, minor in African & African Diaspora Studies

Position: Business Development Intern

Company: Microsoft

Topics: Technology, Coding, Service

Oby Umelloh is currently a fourth-year student who spent this past summer as a Business Development Intern in Microsoft’s Seattle office. “My specific role was to look at what areas a product might go into in the next few years and determine what companies we should partner with versus acquire to help us fill various functionality gaps and enter new regions in the next fiscal year,” says Umelloh. Because of her internship, Umelloh will be returning to Microsoft in August to start a full-time position where she will rotate through Microsoft’s different business sectors for one year. “I really like the culture and vibe at Microsoft. They really believe in growth mindset. Over the summer, even when I felt like I failed miserably at something, they encouraged me to try again and learn from my mistakes. I see this as a great place to start, learn, and grow as much as possible.”

Umelloh found her internship by attending a Microsoft dinner co-hosted by McCombs’s affinity groups. “There were about 60 people there and only 2 Microsoft recruiters, so I didn’t end up talking to one of them until the very end of the event. I was worried he was going to be tired and fatigued, but we just hit it off and had a great conversation about non-recruiting stuff like family and what my interests were.” Without a doubt, Umelloh had plenty of interests, activities, and experiences to share with the recruiter: She’s studied abroad in both South Africa and Hong Kong, interned for a nonprofit in South Africa, taught at a technology summer camp, and is involved in Code Orange, a campus organization dedicated to increasing technical literacy in underserved Austin communities.

“The campus activity I’m most passionate about is Code Orange because I’m very passionate about technical and digital literacy for underrepresented communities. Through Code Orange, I met a friend who was doing a program called iD Tech Camp in Houston. I was looking for programs that would help me teach children that might not have the opportunity to learn coding skills in their schools or have strong STEM programs, and iD Tech Camp was the perfect opportunity for me.”

Her desire to “pay it forward” through programs like Code Orange and iD Tech is influenced by mentors who helped her pave her own pathway into technology. “I was not a coding person at all in high school. When I took MIS 301, I remember reading this passage in the textbook about internet connectivity in underdeveloped countries, and it really resonated with me because my family is Nigerian. It made me want to become an MIS major so I could contribute to this issue of making internet more accessible. Then I took MIS 304 with Caryn Conley (who is a BHP alum) and she made me believe in myself and my ability to code. She and my MIS 333K professor (Katie Gray, also a CBHP alum!) empowered me and gave me the confidence to pursue coding and other technical fields.”

Umelloh also credits her Canfield BHP classes with preparing her to enter the workforce. “There’s something in every class that can be related back to the job. In Statistics (STA 371H) with James Scott, I was really forced to have a data-driven approach to analyses and get over any preconceived notions I had about what the outcome would be. And in (Robert) Prentice’s Business Law (LEB 323H) class, I’m learning about all the ethical considerations of decision-making, which is especially relevant in tech because there’s so much grey area.” Reflecting upon her experiences in the program, she shares the following advice for current and prospective students: “If I could talk to my former self, I would tell myself not to worry so much about the physical manifestations of intelligence, like your grades or how you compare to the statistics of the class as a whole. I would tell myself to instead focus more on what I’m learning and how I can get the most out of each class. Eventually, college will be over and all you’ll be left with is what you learned, not the grade you received.”