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Dean of UA's Eller College looks to retool for digital shift in business world

Dean of UA's Eller College looks to retool for digital shift in business world

The Eller College dean, Paulo Goes, says plans are in the works for entrepreneurship programs in Indonesia and Peru.

When Paulo Goes was named dean of the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management about a year ago, he said a major goal would be to better prepare students for the rapid digital transformation of the business world.

The former head of the UA’s Department of Management Information Systems has gotten off to a fast start in that regard, with near-term plans to launch new programs in cybersecurity and big-data analytics for working professionals.

“We have to help businesses understand what is happening in a time of great change, and at the same time, we can work with them to help our students,” Goes said.

But the dean has gone much further, moving to break down barriers between Eller’s six academic departments, boosting online programs, reaching out to Eller alumni and laying plans for expansion — both in Tucson and Phoenix.

The Star caught up with Goes to ask him about his first year on the job.

Q: What have been some of your biggest challenges as dean and how have you addressed them?

A: The biggest challenge I see as dean is, we need to have the right organizational structure in place to follow our strategies. And I think that after a few years of turnover in leadership and the budget situation not being that bright, I think I face some misalignment in terms of the organizational structure.

Most of the business schools are organized in a way that made sense in the 1950s and the second half of the last century — you have those very strong academic departments. But the world has changed. It’s more about the interdisciplinary collaboration — much more about offering programs that are going to help the business organization. We’re reorganizing ourselves to become an influential business school in the times in which we actually live — not just looking to the past, but to the future.

Q: You said when you were named dean you looked forward to working with Tech Launch Arizona, which helps faculty bring university technology to market. Why is TLA important to Eller and is the college doing or planning anything new in that area?

A: When I took the job, I wanted to create a strategy for our college that is based on our core competencies, and the McGuire Center (for Entrepreneurship) has always been the thing we are best know for.

We’ve been talking with different deans on campus because there’s a growing need for every student to know more about the entrepreneurship process. David Allen (Tech Launch Arizona vice president) and I have been working very closely and working with other colleges to develop a platform for how we can teach entrepreneurship across the university. ... I think there’s a lot in common that we can do together.

Q: How important is it for Eller to collaborate with the local Tucson business community, and how does that go beyond just providing a pipeline for young business talent?

A: The pipeline of students is the first thing you think about, but I’d like to do more of that. I’d like to align with the needs of the local business community. I think the (business) incubation piece, we could explore. ... We have worked with companies like Raytheon and IBM on MIS, we could provide them with more than employees, where students would provide things like consulting, almost like extending their workforce, using our students and faulty to work on problems.

Q: You’ve cited the digital transformation as a key driver for 21st century business. How is Eller contributing to that with technology, or curricula to prepare students?

A: That’s big, that’s where we’re going as a society and an organization, so I think we have to be driving that in terms of curricula and programs.

We are launching a master’s in cybersecurity for working professionals and big-data analytics for working professionals, an accounting master’s and MBA programs online, because I know they can bring me revenue that I can use to operate the college and address the needs of working professionals. Times have changed, we have to run the college as this portfolio of programs that are self-funded and self-sustaining.

The MBA program also is going to have a strong component about digital transformation, so we’re embracing that.

Q: Last fall, the college opened the donor-funded, $5 million Karl and Stevie Eller Professional Development Center, providing space and career coaching for job placement. What has that meant to the college and its students?

A: It’s been a game changer for the undergrad program. I think we realized that business education is not only about what you do in the classroom but everything you do outside of the class. So, everything the employers want our students to have in terms of collaboration, leadership and communication skills, we built that center to create an environment for that.

That has changed dramatically, not to mention having a new facility, a new space that also gets people excited about being here. The students are telling me their lives changed after that facility (opened).

Now, I realize we have to do the same thing for our graduate programs, so I am looking and already have a conceptual design for the second floor where we have the MBA facilities.

But I think eventually, in three to five years, we’re going to have to look at a new building because the only way to solve the budget situation is to grow, and as we grow we need to have more staff, more faculty; so we’re going to be running out of space soon. We’re hiring about 10 new faculty members this year and its a big problem of where we put them.

Q: What are some of your other new initiatives?

A: Another one is healthcare management. It’s an area that combines digital transformation, data analytics, but it also combines everything else that we do — leadership training, finance, accounting, marketing.

I decided to really have that as a priority so we established a center for health care management (the Center for Management Innovations in Healthcare). We got an endowment from a donor of $2.5 million and we’ve been working with all the other health-care units on campus to look at joint programs.

The last one I want to mention is, I look at us a business school in Arizona, and I think Phoenix with 5 million people, and 33,000 of our alumni that live there — we have to be a bigger player in the Phoenix market. I just finished renovation of an office space in Phoenix, and I plan to be there once a week.

Contact senior reporter David Wichner at or 573-4181. On Twitter: @dwichner

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