2020 Best & Brightest MBAs: Christopher Goff, University of Texas (McCombs)

Christopher Goff

The University of Texas at Austin, McCombs School of Business

“A compassionate, focused, goal-driven individual whose love for life was born through overcoming addiction.”

Hometown: Fort Worth, Texas

Fun fact about yourself: Currently, I am teaching myself to play the piano when I have free time. While I am pleased with my progress thus far, I think my wife is sick of hearing “Frère Jacques” and “Joy to the World.”

Undergraduate School and Degree: New York University – BA, Economics (Summa Cum Laude, GPA: 4.0)

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Prior to McCombs, I worked in New York City as an Associate on the underwriting and acquisitions team at WM Capital Partners, a $500 million AUM alternative investment firm focused on distressed debt and special situations loan originations.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2019? Castle Hill Partners – Austin, Texas

Where will you be working after graduation? Crescent Real Estate, Director of Investments – Fort Worth, Texas

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Venture Fellows – Vice President, Curriculum
  • McCombs Real Estate Investment Fund – Portfolio Manager
  • Graduate Real Estate Society – Vice President, Finance
  • Graduate Finance Association
  • Graduate Business Adventure Team
  • Cogburn Case Competition – Pro Forma Judge, (Spring 2020)
  • ULI Hines Case Competition – Participant, (Spring 2019)
  • Member of Real Estate Council of Austin (RECA)
  • Member of Urban Land Institute (ULI)
  • Volunteer extensively in the community using my own personal experience to help those struggling with alcoholism and addiction to reclaim their lives through recovery.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Being selected into Venture Fellows was a highlight of my MBA path. Venture Fellows began roughly 20 years ago to provide students with an opportunity to gain hands-on experience in the venture capital and private equity industries by partnering with top firms around Austin and the country. Given the difficulty of breaking into the PE and VC space – and the tremendous growth of Austin’s private equity scene –Venture Fellows receive an unparalleled opportunity to intern with a partner firm for a full year during their MBA.

I had the privilege of working for CAVU Venture Partners, a leading consumer food, beverage and lifestyle focused VC employing ~$5-50 million early-stage and growth equity investments. Venture Fellows also hold a class once a week in which a diverse slate of speakers, from entrepreneurs to VCs and prominent CEOs, share their experiences. Admission into Venture Fellows is a selective and demanding application process that is controlled entirely by the Venture Fellows from the previous class. Once admitted, your Venture Fellows peers become some of your closest friends in the program and it was a privilege getting to know this stellar group of individuals. The program has been profoundly successful, as demonstrated by the over 100 PE and VC firms who competed for a Venture Fellow this year – despite only having 18 available members. McCombs was the first to create such a program that now serves as a model that other business schools have followed.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? While at Smith & Associates, the world’s largest independent distributor of electronic components, I discovered that the rapidly- growing cost-savings industry was undeveloped for Smith compared to its competition. Historically, Smith had focused almost entirely on sales created by shortages and disruptions in the supply chain; however, as technology and globalization accelerated, the shortage business became less significant. I took the lead to implement a cost-savings program that allowed customers to offload excess inventories to Smith at a large discount. In turn, Smith sold to other customers at a cost-savings from their standard pricing. I collaborated with our executives and software engineers to create a part-matching software platform, which would allow traders to capitalize on real-time price arbitrage opportunities between customers. As an initial test for our program called PPV, or Purchase Price Variance, I implemented this system across the sites of a leading global contract manufacturer I co-managed with great success. Under my leadership, this account served as the guinea pig for PPV and grew from $28,000 in sales in 2012 to over $15 million in revenue per year; it is now a top ten customer for Smith globally.

Subsequently, I mirrored the implementation of this system across Smith’s entire customer base. Seasoned traders were initially steadfast in their dedication to the shortage business and ignored the lower margin business PPV offered. To overcome this challenge, I demonstrated that PPV created a far more reliable and steady revenue stream than that of the shortage business which relied on supply chain disruptions out of Smith’s control. I pitched PPV to hundreds of Smith’s employees globally from our regional headquarters in Hong Kong and Houston, and flew to Bangalore, India to train our first PPV team. The PPV business for Smith now generates $100 million in annual sales and represents a “win-win” business for Smith and its customers by providing cost-savings from their standard pricing.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite MBA professor was Dr. Greg Hallman. He taught my two-semester Real Estate Investment Fund class and is the Director of the Real Estate Center at McCombs. I have served as a Teaching Assistant and Assistant Instructor for his undergraduate ‘Real Estate Finance and Syndication’ and ‘Real Estate Investment Fund’ courses. Under Dr. Hallman’s leadership, the Real Estate Investment Fund provides students with hands-on experiential learning whereby they invest real dollars out of a fund donated by prominent alumni into public REITs in the spring and private real estate deals in the fall. McCombs is the only school in the world to offer students the ability to manage a fund with both public and private real estate investments in a class setting. Each fall, Dr. Hallman selects students to manage the fund and teaches them how to underwrite public and private real estate investments, understand portfolio theory, and ensure that the fund generates above-average returns. Dr. Hallman is humble, engaging and possesses a unique ability to transmit his extraordinary knowledge of finance and real estate in a succinct and simple way. Oh, and he is brilliant too.

Given how difficult this question is to answer, I must also mention Patrick Badolato, Ken Wiles, Ethan Burris, Julia Coronado, Clemens Sialm, Jim Nolen, Brian Lendecky and Xavier Sztejnberg – each of these professors is pillars of our academic community and have been utterly transformative in my academic and professional development.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? My favorite MBA event was International Night hosted by the International MBA Student Association and MBA+ Leadership Program. This is the biggest MBA event of the year and provides the opportunity to celebrate the cultural diversity of our program through food, dance, and entertainment. I am proud that my class is made up of students who hail from all around the world. As a native Texan, I am honored to share the city of Austin, the state of Texas, and our great University with such a diverse class. Also, there is another tradition that is a pretty big deal: Texas sports, Hook ’em!

Why did you choose this business school? To put it simply, if you want to pursue a career anywhere – and especially in Texas – the McCombs MBA holds enormous value. The alumni network, support, and engagement are unparalleled. It is not uncommon to attend an MBA Real Estate event whereby the students are outnumbered 10:1 by prominent alumni who take the time to connect with and support the students. It is truly outstanding. After spending seven years in New York City, my wife and I knew we wanted to pursue our careers in Texas so there is no better place to be. You are hard-pressed to find many companies in this state which don’t have a strong and proud affiliation with The University of Texas. McCombs epitomizes the friendly and entrepreneurial culture of the state of Texas.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? I understand how grueling the MBA application process can be, but always remember to be true to yourself. Conduct your due diligence on different programs and spend time asking yourself: Which program embodies the person I want to become? Which program will test my limits and help me grow as an individual – personally and professionally? If you are able, visit as many schools as you can and connect with current students to get a feel for the community you will be joining.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? Given the incredible McCombs MBA student body, you can never spend enough time getting to know your peers. When you arrive on campus, it is easy to become overwhelmed with the social activities, clubs, and events vying for your attention apart from your academics. I quickly recognized the need to focus my efforts on the activities and clubs which aligned with my purpose and vision for attending business school; however, this also means it can be easy to miss out on connecting with peers who are involved in an entirely different MBA pathway. While McCombs is a close-knit community, one of my goals as I approach graduation is to spend time with fellow students who I have not yet gotten to know as well. Every time I do, I become even more amazed at the caliber of my peers.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Gbenoba Idah. I met Gbenoba after we were both accepted into Venture Fellows and we became good friends. Gbenoba is an outstanding person and has a resume to match. He first worked in the sports and entertainment industry out of undergrad at Cornell, where he played football. Subsequently, he received his law degree, worked under the Attorney General of New Mexico, and most recently practiced M&A law prior to business school. He is an absolute rock star and has an incredible future ahead of him. Aside from his stellar resume, Gbenoba is probably one of the kindest and most humble men I have ever met. His smile is contagious and he would do anything to help a friend. As a show of his selflessness, Gbenoba has dedicated much of his spare time during his MBA working with our Graduate Women in Business group to elevate women in business. He personifies the spirit of what makes our McCombs community so special: He is a collaborative leader, smart, altruistic, and hard-working.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My father has undoubtedly influenced my decision to pursue a career in business more than any other. Originally from a small Texas town, my dad came from humble beginnings, but attended The University of Texas at Austin and received his BBA. Growing up, I watched him persevere and succeed to become one of the smartest and most successful investors in his field. To me, he is a hero and someone I aspire to become more like every single day, but not merely in a professional sense. While I admire his insurmountable professional and entrepreneurial success in real estate, energy, and other investments, it is his humility, work ethic, love for others, and determination I respect the most. I have never heard him speak a negative word about anyone and he never makes excuses. My dad has never pushed me into pursuing a career in business, but I had a front-row seat to his accomplishments and the positive impact he has made on the lives of others as a result. There was no other path I could ever dream of taking. He is my rock and my hero and has never left my side, even during some very dark times in my life.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

  • Always do what I can to help others achieve their professional goals
  • Become a respected and knowledgeable thought leader in my field

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you?

I would like to be remembered as someone who was…

  • Uplifting and positive
  • Placed others’ needs before his own
  • Impeccable with his word
  • Always did his best
  • Never made excuses
  • Driven, dedicated, and humble.

Hobbies? Spending time with my wife and our dog West, early morning HIIT workouts, following Longhorn sports, fly-fishing, gardening, traveling, discovering new foods, reading, and most recently learning the piano.

What made Christopher such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2020?

“While it is easy to list Christopher Goff’s contributions to the McCombs Community – Vice President of Curriculum for Venture Fellows, Portfolio Manager on the McCombs Real Estate Investment Fund, Vice President for the Graduate Real Estate Society— it is harder to characterize the quiet, humble leader at the heart of this student. Chris’ contributions are characterized by his work ethic, commitment to excellence, and a deep dedicated Longhorn spirit that goes far beyond showing up for game day. Each interaction with Chris offers a little more insight into his depth of character and empathy for others.

In describing his academic contributions, real estate professor, Greg Hallman, shares,“Chris is a very thoughtful student – one of the most thoughtful students I’ve had. He is as interested as the next MBA in learning the best methodologies and tools, but he goes beyond the typical MBA when he presses for the basis and the evidence behind the methodologies we are teaching. Chris worked as a portfolio manager with me on our real estate investment fund and we followed that two-semester hands-on investment class with an independent study where we are reading articles from the Journal of Portfolio Management on real estate investment topics and meeting weekly to discuss. It’s a rare MBA student who wants to do the work in the academic articles to see where the arguments are coming from.” 

As a VP of Curriculum for our select Venture Fellows program, Chris was responsible for bringing speakers to campus from the VC, PE and entrepreneurial community, including Bill Johnson, former CEO of Heinz; Eric Lang, head of Private Equity for Teacher Retirement System of Texas; Gay Gaddis, founder of T3 digital marketing; and even his father, John Goff, CEO of Crescent Real Estate. Venture Fellows faculty member, Jim Nolen, notes that “Chris always had insightful views on a variety of issues and businesses ranging from their family’s investments in high-end spas, e-sports teams and real estate to discussion on asset valuation bubbles, impact investing and opportunities in distressed properties and debt. Despite the time demands of his Venture Fellows internship and the real estate investment fund, Chris managed to plan his wedding in the fall of 2019. Chris is a great ambassador for Venture Fellows, McCombs School of Business, and The University of Texas at Austin.”

Chris’s peers recognize him for his contributions in the classroom, his support of others, and his work ethic beyond the classroom. A fellow classmate described him as an “…indispensable asset in the classroom. Chris is unafraid to voice his questions or opinions while contributing to the overall learning of all parties. More than that, his unmatched work ethic outside the halls of Rowling cannot be overstated. Chris represents the best of our class, our university, and our great city.”

When a student comes back to school with a little more life experience and having faced a few obstacles along the way, they often take advantage of all our program can offer them. Chris came to McCombs with a commitment to hard work, depth of engagement, and an appreciation for the reciprocal opportunity to learn from and give back to our community as a whole. I have no doubt that Chris will continue to give back and mentor those behind him after he leaves this place.”

Tina Mabley
Assistant Dean and Program Director, Full-time MBA Program

The University of Texas at Austin, McCombs School of Business


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