2017 Best MBAs: Caitlin Goodrich, University of Texas (McCombs)

Caitlin Goodrich

McCombs School of Business, University of Texas at Austin

“Loves cheese, travel, and wine; likes talking about ideas; and tries to do good.”

Age: 30

Hometown: Seattle, Washington – but going on 13 years in Texas, I might have to change my home state soon

Fun fact about yourself: When some people might keep dishes or mementos in a cabinet in their dining rooms, my husband and I chose to showcase our board game collection instead.

Undergraduate School and Degree: I graduated from Rice University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Astrophysics. I’m currently earning a dual MBA from McCombs and Masters in Public Affairs from the LBJ School at UT Austin.

Where did you work before enrolling in business school?) Before graduate school, I worked for Deloitte Consulting’s Human Capital practice for six years. I left right after getting promoted to Manager.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2016? I interned in Los Angeles, CA for the Roberts Enterprise Development Fund (REDF), a venture philanthropy fund that exclusively invests in social enterprises that provide jobs for people with high barriers to employment.

Where will you be working after graduation? I’m headed back to Deloitte Consulting as a Manager in the Human Capital practice.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: I’m honored to have co-founded the Social Impact Internship Fund at McCombs. I served as Co-President of McCombs’s Net Impact Chapter and VP of Internal Affairs for the Graduate Business Council, our elected student government. I also served as a Board Fellow for Leadership Austin, a civic education non-profit. I’m a member of the McCombs Ambassador Committee, Graduate Women in Business and eQual. Outside of McCombs, I volunteer at Safe Place, Austin’s domestic violence and sexual assault shelter.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I’m most proud of founding the McCombs Social Impact Internship Fund (SIIF) with my classmates Tim Carreon, Silva Gentchev and Margó Hufstetler González. Building on the work of the Class of 2010, who established an endowment to support McCombs students interning in social impact, we set out to increase the funding available to support these students. In the process of doing so, we hoped to strengthen McCombs’s social impact emphasis and recruit more students interested in social impact to our program. Launching the fund meant tackling a lot, which we only accomplished because we worked together as a team: designing the fund; creating a selection process and criteria for SIIF Fellows; running the pledge drive; applying for additional funding wherever we could find it; working with McCombs’s Development Office; and actually selecting Fellows and awarding fellowships.

We believed, and the first year of the SIIF showed, that when our colleagues intern in low or unpaid positions with organizations that create a benefit for society, their peers are eager to support them. Fellow first years pledge “a day of pay” from their own internship salaries to create a fund that is used to bring all qualifying social impact interns up to the same salary level for the summer. These “impact investors,” combined with support from alumni and faculty, raised over $33,000, increasing the previous funding available to social impact interns by over 600%! The fund was used to support four of our classmates, the first “SIIF Fellows,” who interned in social enterprises, non-profits and private companies that are making the world greener and more just.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Before leaving Deloitte for graduate school, I worked for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, implementing the Medicaid rule changes that went into effect as a result of the Affordable Care Act. Medicaid is the (mostly) Federally-funded program that provides health insurance to low income Americans. Even though Texas did not expand Medicaid eligibility, the rules governing eligibility still changed significantly. I managed the project, which involved State employees from policy, operations, training and those who work in the Medicaid offices. Despite a politically-charged context, we successfully developed communications and training materials to help over 5,000 caseworkers continue to process Medicaid applications in a timely and accurate manner.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite MBA professor is Dr. Laura Starks, who teaches Environmental, Social and Governance Investing and serves as the faculty sponsor for Net Impact. She also graciously agreed to serve as a co-sponsor for the original research project I’m working on in my last year. Dr. Starks is a champion of social impact at McCombs, an accomplished and respected Finance scholar and devotes her time to supporting her students – she’s the best!

What was your favorite MBA Course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? My favorite MBA course is Environmental, Social and Governance Investing because it helped me understand how non-market strategies can work, even in our current system. The course included behavioral finance, too, which was a fascinating look at some of the challenges of our “rational actor” economic paradigm. In other words, my biggest takeaway was that being good for society is a business strategy the market validates in certain contexts.

Why did you choose this business school? It’s a cliché at this point, but I chose McCombs for the people. We work hard, support each other and have fun together. McCombs people are competitive, but with themselves – not each other – and it’s this combination of internal drive and supportive environment that is just magic.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? I’ve always been a huge nerd and luckily, that gets more and more acceptable the older you get. I love learning – the chance to spend three years learning about business and public policy is a huge luxury that I’m so grateful for. I’m a better critical thinker, a better leader and manager and a better civic participant as a result of reading and then talking about stuff that matters with smart people who care.

What was the most surprising thing about business school for you? After a year in public policy school, I was nervous about entering an environment that was interested in such different problems and often prioritizes such different issues. Even though the transition was challenging, I vowed to practice speaking my mind even when I felt my views might be unpopular. This was great practice for me and helped me find the many, many people who were concerned about the same issues I was. In short, I’m surprised by both how much I’ve grown and how easy it was to find a community.

What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Understand why Texas is the best program for you and tell that story in a compelling way through your application. In interviews, it’s easy to tell who can picture Texas as part of their future and who is interviewing because it makes sense for their application strategy. The former group is much more engaging.

What is the biggest myth about your school? My husband graduated from McCombs two years before I started the program, so I had experienced McCombs as a spouse and a bit through him. The experience certainly exceeded my expectations but I don’t think I had a good read on McCombs myths because I already had so much personal experience with the program.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? It’s hard to pick just one. I’m awed by the international students, like Biwen (Vanessa) Yu who move across the world to get a graduate degree in a language and culture that isn’t their first. I’m floored by the parents, like Monica Chartier and Ginger Lackey, who care for humans other than themselves while the rest of us are pretty solidly consumed by our own needs and plans. I’m stunned by people like Allegra Asplundh who become parents during business school – and manage to lock down badass internships while pregnant. I’m floored by people like Tenaj Ferguson who pitch to Mark Cuban and win because their entrepreneurial efforts are so promising. I’m inspired by people like Megan Schneider, who come to business school to change their professional paths and, despite how hard it is to do that, actually pull it off. My classmates are incredible.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I realized I could combine it with a public policy degree – neither on their own seemed right, but the combination is perfect.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…at Deloitte still.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? I would create innovative initiatives to support and attract students with families and new parents in school. Even though I’m not a parent, it would be great to see more family-friendly social events and support for students who have children during the program.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I want to work hard at work worth doing. (Credit: Theodore Roosevelt) When I’m done with my professional career, I want to look back and be proud of not just the content of my work but the role it played in making our world more just. Stay tuned.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My husband, Adam. When (not if) I overcommit, he helps me strategize a way out. When I need a break, he’s always up for a board game or binge-watching TV. And when I take a State Department internship in Bahrain or a social impact internship in LA or decide to study abroad in Barcelona, he not only supports me but comes to visit me, too. Thanks, husband!!

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? She stood up for what she believed in, worked hard, and was kind.

Favorite book: Harry Potter

Favorite movie or television show: Parks and Recreation

Favorite musical performer: High Plains Jamboree

Favorite vacation spot: Kauai, Hawaii

Hobbies? Talking and reading about capitalism, racism and the patriarchy; finding a way to add glitter to things; eating; board games. I’m nominally attached to yoga and hiking, but if I’m honest, most of my free time goes to the first and third things on that list.

What made Caitlin such an invaluable addition to the class of 2017?

“Caitlin Goodrich is dedicated to leaving this world a better place than she found it. She has been a committed and impactful leader in the class of 2017. There are countless initiatives on campus where Caitlin is an influential force, and often from behind the scenes. She serves on the Graduate Business Council, as co-president of the McCombs’ Net Impact Chapter, and as a board fellow with a local not-for-profit.

Caitlin’s most impactful initiative was being a key driver of our Social Impact Internship Fund (SIIF) to support her fellow peers who took positions of social impact with little or no summer compensation. Because of her efforts, and that of her team, the class of 2017 was able to raise over $33,000 to support four SIIF Fellows last summer.

Caitlin consistently recognizes opportunities to develop initiatives to support her peers, including those who have traveled the globe to get here, added new members to their family during the program and juggled competing life priorities. Her role as a tireless advocate for others embodies the nature of our Texas MBA culture of collaboration and inclusion, for that, I am nominating her for Poets & Quants’ Best and Brightest of 2017.”

Tina Mabley
Assistant Dean

DON’T MISS: THE COMPLETE HONOR ROLL: BEST & BRIGHTEST MBAS OF 2017