Always a Learner

Being Adaptable in a Changing World
Portrait of Karin Goettsch
Photo by Jacob Van Blarcom, CLAgency student

“Communication—the human connection—is the key to personal and career success.”
- Paul J. Meyer

With a BA in economics and French from St. Olaf College, a master’s in teaching ESL and adult education from the University of Minnesota, and a master’s certificate in business communication management from the University of St. Thomas, it’s clear that Karin Goettsch is passionate about education. 

So, what made her return to the Department of Writing Studies to complete a PhD in rhetorical theory and professional communication in 2014? 

“I went back for a PhD because I have always been pulled to the academic environment, and it was a natural next step for me to continue a deeper level of exploration and research at the doctorate level,” she says. Many of her academic and business interests dovetailed at this point in her career, allowing her to bring together the best of what she knew as a scholar and practitioner to create new opportunities rather than having to choose one over the other. 

Her experience as a PhD student was long and challenging. While studying in the PhD program, she also worked full time; however, she had a lot of support from the Department of Writing Studies. They were flexible and open to her “non-traditional” path. 

Lee-Ann Kastman Breuch, department chair, was Goettsch’s advisor and helped her through the process. Breuch was available to Goettsch whenever she needed. “Lee-Ann was a positive influence on my experience in the program,” Goettsch says. She coached Goettsch through inevitable challenges, and through their relationship, Goettsch believes, they learned from each other. 

She also had strong, motivational support from her Writing Studies Committee members, Professor Ann Hill Duin and Associate Professor Anne Lazaraton. These relationships are what keep her coming back to the University. 

Visit TCAB's website to learn more about its work.

Three years after graduation, she is still involved with the department, recently joining the Technical Communications Alumni Board (TCAB)—an opportunity for her to give back to the department that taught her so much. TCAB provides experiential learning opportunities for writing studies students such as networking, mentoring, internships, and case competitions.

A Liberal Arts Advocate

Some people may look at her degrees and say that none is directly related to her current career in global human resources. But Goettsch is a strong believer in liberal arts and cross-disciplinary education. It “[builds] a solid foundation to help you think critically by understanding how quickly the world and workplaces are changing.” 

Goettsch has found that over her career her education has given her “opportunities to think, communicate, and collaborate effectively across boundaries and appreciate diverse perspectives.” 

It has helped her think and adapt to multiple situations, as well as develop and strengthen her communication skills so that she is “always learning.”

She is currently working at The Mosaic Company managing global human resources talent management initiatives, as well as teaching at Concordia University and the U of M’s College of Continuing and Professional Studies (formerly the College of Continuing Education).

She has also worked in other areas of human resources learning and leadership development, business, law, and intercultural communication in a variety of industries. 

Effective Communication Creates Leaders

“Effective communicators have the potential to be the best leaders,” Goettsch says. 

Goettsch herself has been a leader in communicating. She has spoken at multiple national and international conferences. Presenting at conferences in such places as Denmark, Mexico, South Africa, and China has helped her build relationships and business connections with people from all over the world, many of whom are familiar with the U of M. 

She won the Outstanding Dissertation Award from the Association for Business Communication, among other recognitions, and has embarked on publishing in academic journals, such as Global Advances in Business Communication, with plans to continue. 

Aside from her position at The Mosaic Company, she teaches graduate and undergraduate courses at Concordia University in St. Paul, drawing on her knowledge of teacher training and adult learning practices from the U of M. The writing courses that she completed had a good mix of theory and practice, which helped hone her professional skills as a writer, facilitator, and consultant. 

Her current research on global virtual teams—a topic she explored during her doctorate work with Breuch—is increasingly relevant in today’s morphing workplaces. ”It’s gratifying to see how I can continually learn and engage with others from many different disciplines, sectors, and industries.”

Goettsch is always adapting and evolving, continuing to expand her learning and knowledge. She appreciates her liberal arts education that has been a key for her personal success. To give back and learn more about the nonprofit space, she is pleased to be able to serve on the board of directors of the Minnesota Literacy Council, leveraging her experience and interest in building stronger communities through language and education.

She recently spoke at the ATD 2018 International Conference and Exposition in San Diego, California in May, where she discussed strategies for successful global virtual team collaboration. Her upcoming opportunities include the SHRM Annual Conference in Chicago, Illinois on June 18.


This story was written by an undergraduate student account executive in CLAgency. Meet the team.

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