Although he will not be teaching anymore, Professor Goh will continue to contribute to the Telfer School of Management through his new position as Emeritus Professor. Professor Goh has been an excellent mentor to his students over the years. “I was a second year student when Swee first joined the University of Ottawa. I remember how excited he was at the opportunity to teach, how he delivered his course with such care and excellent preparation. We connected and I took four more courses with him. Today he is both a colleague and a friend.” says Alain Doucet, alumnus and Assistant Dean of the Telfer School of Management.

A Short Interview with Professor Goh

How did your teaching career begin?

I began teaching my first Organizational Behaviour course as a doctoral student at the University of Toronto. I taught at the Faculty of Management, University of Toronto and the Faculty of Business McMaster University as a part-time lecturer. My full-time career as an academic started when I had a position at the School of Business Administration at Dalhousie University. After receiving my Ph.D. from the University of Toronto, I joined the University of Ottawa and have been teaching here since.

What were some highlights of your teaching/research career?

I have always enjoyed teaching. Some of my most enjoyable teaching experiences were to develop new and interesting advanced courses to teach my students such as “Power and Politics in Organizations” and “Competitive Advantage through People”. These courses challenged my ability to translate current research in OB and to make it practical and useful for my students, many of whom had management responsibilities. I have met some of these students that have taken these courses many years later and there is still a spark of excitement when they talk to me about these courses and the practical significance for them in helping them in their work. There is no better feedback than this to make you feel good about your teaching career and the impact it has made on others.

Supervising graduate students in major research projects and thesis work was also a major highlight in my teaching career. Seeing my first Ph.D. and MSc student graduate was not only exciting but seeing them move on to new careers and meeting their proud and happy families during graduation was also a very rewarding experience.

As an academic, research is also an activity that I have enjoyed doing. Part of doing research is collaborating with other researchers so you can build on each other’s insights, knowledge and expertise. For me, this synergy is essential to doing good research. I have been very lucky to have met and collaborated with a number of colleagues at the University of Ottawa, including Andre deCarufel, Daniel Zeghal, Michael Maingot,  Peter Ryan, Tony Quon, Catherine Elliott, Greg Richards and Craig Kuziemsky at the Telfer School of Management; and Brad Cousins and Maurice Taylor in the Faculty of Education where I had a cross-appointment.

I had also a wonderful group of colleagues in the HRM/OB group that were very helpful in the early years of my teaching career, including Natalie Lam, Jak Jabes, A. Subbbarao and the late Jean Guiot.

In addition I have fostered a tradition of working with my students and mentoring them in the research process even at the early stages of their studies to engage in research together with me. This has resulted in many conferences and published peer reviewed journal papers and many enjoyable trips to fun and great cities and places in the world such as Paris, Taipei and Berkeley, California to present our papers! These experiences have also been a highlight of my career.

Any regrets?

None at all!! I feel extremely lucky that I have picked a career and job that I like and have been able to enjoy what I do for over 30 years. Every job has its ups and downs and some disappointments, but I try my best to focus on only the positive things such as enjoying the thrill of getting an acceptance letter for a paper in a good peer-reviewed journal and celebrating with my co-authors or the experience of struggling through a research project and finally getting it done well. Also the experience of sharing your knowledge, building on others research and trying your best to add to new knowledge in the field makes this a great job.

Academics have a good life with lots of autonomy and flexibility and I am grateful for having such a privilege job and rewarding career.

What are your future plans?

As some are fond of saying “academics never retire” they just work at a slower pace and continue to do the kinds of things they like doing, such as research and writing, without the other formal responsibilities and pressures of being a full-time academic. I intend to do just that!!

I will continue to supervise two of my graduate students in their thesis research and ensure that they complete their studies successfully. Also I am still very enthusiastic about research and will be working on a number of on-going projects in organizational learning and performance management and starting a new project with a former student! 

With even more time flexibility now, my wife Lilian and I hope to focus on other activities in life as well such as planning some exciting travel and possibly doing other kinds of “work” such as volunteering to be a part of worthwhile causes that we feel passionate about.

However, I hope to continue to contribute through my research to the further success of the Telfer School of Management in my new position as Emeritus Professor.