By Liz Warren-Pederson
Paulo Goes began his tenure as the Eller College’s ninth dean on March 14. His appointment was announced in December, following a year-long national search.
Growing up in Brazil, civil engineering seemed like the logical path for Paulo Goes. “It was the thing to do,” he explained. “The government had a lot of huge projects underway, like building dams in the middle of the Amazon.” His father was also a civil engineer, and Goes had an aptitude for math.
He began his career and worked for two years on a construction site. “I found that I really enjoyed the planning, the project management and logistics.” He went into an industrial engineering master’s program in Rio, where he began to get a taste of what life as an academic would be like. Then a professor from the University of Rochester came to visit, and Goes’s thesis advisor connected them. It gave Goes a window into Ph.D. programs. He applied at Rochester and was accepted at the Simon School of Business, where he got his Ph.D. in business administration focusing in information systems and operations management.
“Sometimes serendipity plays a role,” he said with a laugh. “Without that connection, who knows, maybe I would have ended up at ASU.”
Goes joined the faculty at the University of Connecticut, where he progressed in his academic career for 17 years before coming to Eller as department head of MIS. “I’d always wanted to come to the U.S.,” he said. “The U.S. had a lot of cultural influence when I was growing up in Brazil, and my mother pushed me to learn English when I was 10. But I never thought I’d live in another country for most of my life. I’ve been here for 30 years now. This is my country.”
He is an U.S. citizen, and his children are first generation Americans. “My wife and I are the only ones in our family who have come to the U.S., so all our extended family is still in Brazil.” They visit every year, and he and his wife speak Portuguese at home, so their children are fluent. “They have a connection to another culture, and they’re very proud of their heritage. Last year, my son took some friends to the World Cup and was able to show them a whole other world.”
Goes considers himself a global citizen, and brings that perspective to his leadership at Eller. “Business schools haven’t changed that much in the last 100 years, when they evolved to meet the need for workers with specialized knowledge for the emerging white collar economy,” he said. “The business climate has changed dramatically. The forces that are shaping it – technology, globalization, the internet of things, digital transformation – are shaping universities, too.”
The Eller College was a first mover in the 1970s, when it pioneered the first MIS curriculum in the country; again in the 1980s, when it established one of the first centers for entrepreneurship in the country; and throughout the 1990s, when it became the leading institution studying experimental economics.
This heritage of innovation underpins Goes’s vision of the Eller College evolving to predict and respond to the disruptive change that the digital economy is bringing to global business. Over the coming months, he is meeting with stakeholders including alumni, recruiters, and faculty, to refine this new vision.
“It’s an exciting time,” he said, “and I look forward to bringing the Eller community together toward a common goal.”
Photo of Paulo Goes by Chris Richards.