Many people talk transformation. Dean Goes lives it.
When Paulo Goes and his wife arrived in the U.S. in 1985, they had four suitcases and the small savings of a young couple. It wasn’t the first big risk he’d taken in his life. And it wouldn’t be the last.
Growing up in Brazil, Paulo learned to think big by watching his father, a civil engineer, who loved exploring new industries and business ventures—including purchasing a farm and, later, a sugar plantation. Although they hadn’t farmed before, the entire family dug in and learned to raise chickens, plant orange trees and milk cows. They shared a love for learning how things ticked and transforming working parts into economic drivers.
Whatever the family’s finances, they always prioritized education. Paulo attended a private Franciscan school managed by Dutch Friars. He took English lessons early on, diving in to Hemingway and Fitzgerald at a young age—and developing a linguistic ability that would later get him noticed as a prospective academic candidate in the United States.
After a few years working as a civil engineer in his home city of Belo Horizante, Paulo took a sharp turn from convention, moving to Rio de Janeiro to attend graduate school.
“I was really breaking out by moving there,” he says. His friends and classmates all stayed in their hometown, but Paulo was fascinated by life in the country’s cultural capitol. There, fate intervened and led to yet another turn in his life. A visiting professor from the University of Rochester came to Rio and was stranded there by a university strike. Since Paulo was fluent in English, his advisors asked him to entertain the visiting professor.
As he escorted his guest around the city and talked about his passion for engineering, the professor told him about the University of Rochester’s doctoral program in information systems—and even offered to help find the funding to make it happen.
A Daring Move
Armed with a near-perfect GRE score and a willingness to undertake a bold new academic journey in the U.S., Paulo married his girlfriend, sold his car and bought tickets to New York. The young couple lived on Paulo’s university stipend, with his wife cutting his hair because they couldn’t afford the cost of a barbershop visit.
At the time, they didn’t think they’d come to the U.S. to stay—just to study. But Paulo loved the work he was doing, and he realized that if he went back to Brazil, he wouldn’t have the same academic opportunities to explore.
“This country allowed me to see the value of opportunity,” he says. “Opportunity is not the norm in other countries.”
After graduating with a PhD in business administration, he took a job at the University of Connecticut, carving a career path focused on researching the design and evaluation of IT-enabled business models, business analytics, technology infrastructure and innovation exploration and evaluation.
Shifting Gears, Shaping Lives
He’d spent 18 years there when opportunity knocked again—this time, in the form of a call from the University of Arizona, which was in search of a leader for the Management Information Systems (MIS) department. Paulo and his wife decided to embrace the change in direction and embark on something new.
He served for nearly eight years as the head of the nationally-ranked Department of Management Information Systems and as the Salter Distinguished Professor of Management and Technology. As head of the department, he played a pivotal role developing high-level educational and research programs and partnerships in cybersecurity and big data analytics.
His research has appeared in top academic journals, and he regularly presents his work and delivers keynotes in the top conferences in the information systems field. He served as editor-in-chief of Management Information Systems Quarterly, the most prestigious journal in the field, and co-founded INSITE: Center for Business Intelligence and Analytics.
In his current role as dean and Halle Chair in Leadership at the Eller College of Management, Paulo has turned a strategic eye toward initiatives that elevate the College’s place in the world of entrepreneurship, innovation, digital transformation, economics and business disciplines.
Paulo Goes embodies the very principle of transformation as we see it at Eller College, leading with clear vision, smarts and openness to untapped opportunities. Under his leadership, we continue to work every day to shape businesses, individuals, industries, academic fields and even society. It’s transformation in action, from dean to freshmen to faculty and everyone in between.