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Elizabeth Odders-White ’97 PhD

PhD in Finance

Elizabeth Odders-White ’97 PhD

I’m most proud that I succeeded as a woman in a highly male-dominated field without sacrificing who I am and that I had the courage to leave my tenured position when I was being called to something new.”

Elizabeth Odders-White ’97 PhD is the founder of nodramaturg coaching & consulting, which helps clients in higher education thrive. She received her PhD in finance from Northwestern. Previously, Elizabeth was an associate professor in business at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is a member of the International Coaching Federation and a Certified Executive Coach, trained through the Center for Executive Coaching. 

How would you describe your research and/or work to a non-academic audience?

I had two main areas of research during my academic career. The first area looked at the ways information is reflected in stock prices in U.S. markets. The second focused on methods of building financial capability in children and teens. In 2018, I left my faculty position to found nodramaturg, a coaching and consulting firm that helps faculty and leaders thrive in the challenging world of academia.

What have been some of the most memorable twists and turns of your career?

Leaving my faculty position after 20 years to start my own business was a pretty big twist! I love that I’m able to use my higher education experience to assist others in finding their own way. It’s been a wonderful evolution.

Tell us what inspired your research and/or work.

As a faculty member, I wasted far too much time and energy worrying that I wasn’t good enough and didn’t measure up. I want others who experience these struggles to know they’re not alone and to see through these unhelpful stories.

What is a mistake you have learned from in your career?

One mistake I’ve made often, both in grad school and throughout my career, is failing to trust in my abilities. When we’re feeling insecure, it’s so easy to look around and conclude that everyone else has it together. Over time, I’ve learned we all experience self-doubt, and perfection is not only unattainable but undesirable. 

What is the biggest potential impact or implication of your work?

Life in academia is demanding even under the best of circumstances, and the pressures can easily lead to burnout and overwhelm. I believe that our academic institutions' success depends on having faculty and staff who trust, respect, and care for themselves. I hope that my work supports this goal in some small way. 

What books are on your bedside table?

The stack is large! Right now, it includes The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, Almost Everything by Anne Lamott, Evicted by Matthew Desmond, Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, The Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav, The Art and Practice of Leadership Coaching edited by Howard Morgan, Phil Harkins, and Marshall Goldsmith, Michelle Obama’s Becoming journal, a book of crossword puzzles, and a Kindle that houses a bunch of other titles.

Tell us about a current achievement or something you're working on that excites you.

I recently published a book called Well on Your Way: An Assistant Professor’s Companion. It is designed to support junior faculty as they navigate the winding and thorny path toward tenure. I’ve wanted to write a book for ages, and things finally started to come together about a year ago. I’m especially pleased that I stayed true to myself by including original poems, photographs, and prayers in the book, rather than sterilizing it to ensure broad appeal. That said, the book's themes are universal, and I believe (and hope!) that readers both in and outside of academia can find value in it.

What are you most proud of in your career to date?

I’m most proud that I succeeded as a woman in a highly male-dominated field without sacrificing who I am and that I had the courage to leave my tenured position when I was being called to something new.

Published: December 8, 2020


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