Dr. Melissa Murphy is the Founder and Chief Communication Coach of The Pitch Academy and award-winning teacher and scholar at The University of Texas at Austin.
Dr. Murphy currently teaches business communication, negotiation, and entrepreneurship in the nationally-ranked McCombs School of Business. She has taught professional communication skills, nonverbal communication and organizational communication for the Moody College of Communication and has also held academic teaching positions in marketing for the Master of Science in Technology Commercialization program as well as teaches numerous workshops for Texas Executive Education.
She has published work on web conferencing in the classroom, international crisis communication, interviewing, communication pedagogy, health communication, and professionalism for students and recent college graduates. Her latest work investigates the role of storytelling in raising capital in rewards and equity-based crowdfunding campaigns.
She coaches students, entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, and professionals of all ages to pitch themselves and their ideas in meetings, presentations, and interviews. Over the last decade, she has worked and provided training for several non-profit organizations and companies in fields such as technology, education, consumer products, healthcare and pharmaceuticals, finance, insurance, and government. During her spare time, she watches Kickstarter videos and is a community ‘Barracuda’ mentor for young entrepreneurs at Moolah University in Austin, Texas.
Dr. Murphy holds a BA degree in Corporate Communication from The University of Cincinnati, and an MA and PhD in Organizational Communication and Technology from The University of Texas at Austin, where she received multiple fellowships including the High North Fellowship at the Bodø Graduate School of Business at The University of Nordland. Prior to her appointment at The University of Texas at Austin, she lived in Los Angeles and worked in the music industry holding positions in digital sales and marketing.
Recognized by the Speech Communication Association as the Most Outstanding Graduate Teacher in the state of Texas, she was awarded Assistant Instructor of the Year by the department of communication studies during her time at the Moody College of Communication. She is a three-time award winner of the Faculty Honor Roll Award at the Red McCombs School of Business, which recognizes faculty members for their success in the classroom. She is also a two-time recipient of the Amplify Award for Diversity and Inclusion which recognizes faculty who foster highly-inclusive classrooms and help all students participate and improve learning outcomes.
In 2019, she was selected as one of three professors on campus to teach in the Kendra Scott Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership (WEL) Institute where she has launched the first-ever consumer products practicum. In 2020, she helped launched the first chapter in Texas of The Women’s Network at The University of Texas dedicated to helping women succeed professionally.
Assistant Teaching Professor
Mike Peterson is a Managing Director at the Pemberton Economic Group and an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Management Department at the McCombs School of Business. Mike teaches graduate and undergraduate entrepreneurship courses that focus on identifying opportunities for new technologies, innovation, market validation, building a team, funding a venture, and landing the first customer.
Mike teaches courses in the full-time MBA program and the flagship entrepreneurship program, MS in Technology Commercialization (MSTC). He also teaches core and elective classes for the Entrepreneurship Minor launched at the McCombs School of Business fall 2018. In summer 2020, he co-launched the Summer Entrepreneurship Institute. 2020 also brought recognition for his teaching by being named to the Faculty Honor Roll spring 2020.
In his role at the Pemberton Economic Group, he has conducted in-depth evaluations of over 30 early-stage innovations with market potential of $7.3B+. Analysis includes market size, competitive intelligence, market interest and an assessment of risks and barriers to successful product launch. Prior to joining the Pemberton Economic Group in 2010, Mike ran a division for International Paper as a General Manager.
Mike holds a Master of Science in Technology Commercialization (MSTC) from the University of Texas at Austin, McCombs School of Business, an MBA from Brigham Young University, and a BA in Communications from Brigham Young University.
Dr. Miha Vindis
Adjunct Assistant Professor
Dr. Miha Vindis is a founding partner at Engage Leadership Consulting and has extensive experience in management, strategic leadership, and supply chain planning. He has been involved in leadership and management consulting since 2010 and is a regular speaker and lecturer at leadership conferences, classes, and workshops. Dr. Vindis’ professional career includes time as a consultant at Deloitte and manager at Royal Dutch/Shell. He also has extensive international experience and has lived/worked in Asia, Europe, and North America.
Dr. Vindis holds a B.A. in International Business Management and English Literature. He is an alumnus of the LBJ School of Public Affairs where he earned a master’s degree in Global Policy Studies and a Ph.D. in Public Policy.
Since 2015, Dr. Vindis has been involved as an investor and a mentor to a handful of local entrepreneurs and non-profit organizations. His research interests include gamification, leadership, strategic planning, and behavioral economics.
Rodney is a seasoned business builder, board member and lecturer with a unique blend of strategic vision, organizational leadership and a high financial acumen and discipline. A corporate executive for over two decades specializing in brand marketing, business/product innovation and human centered design for many of today’s leading CPG organizations. These companies include SC Johnson, Tyson Foods Inc, Miller Brewing Company, the Clorox Company, Sara Lee International and the Coca-Cola Company. During his corporate tenure, he has led billion-dollar businesses and managed multi-million-dollar budgets for many well-known consumer brands. In his recruitment to the Coca-Cola Company, he was considered one of the top 100 global marketers by Ad Age.
Born in Kansas and raised in Southern California, Rodney received his Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from the University of California at Riverside. He went on to complete his Master of Business Administration degree with an emphasis in Corporate Finance and Marketing Management at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business. At USC he was the recipient of the prestigious Consortium for Graduate Study in Management fellowship. In 2002 he was privileged to be inducted into the professional fraternity of Sigma Pi Phi.
For almost ten years he has called Austin TX home. Currently, Rodney runs his consulting practice focusing on business operations, leadership development, business innovation and organizational alignment. In 2020 he joined the faculty at the University of Texas, McCombs School of Business where he lectures and coaches in the curriculum of Innovation & Entrepreneurship. He has held leadership board positions in a number of local area non-profits and is a huge proponent of early education and helping reduce the recidivism rate for inmates.
Leah joins the team with 15 years of experience in Entrepreneurship. She was born and raised in the Midwest, received her BA from the University of Iowa and quickly found herself called to the epicenter of creative expression, Austin Texas, where she has lived ever since.
Shortly after moving to Austin, Leah first experienced the winding path of entrepreneurship when starting her own freelance art business. She was hooked. Leah spent the next 8 years as an Area Director and leader at the fastest growing outdoor group fitness company in the nation. In her time with Camp Gladiator Leah helped start, grow, market and launch new markets, regions and states. One of her favorite parts of the role was finding and mentoring leaders to replace her and to continue propelling the company forward.
In 2020 Leah founded and launched Knockin’ Noggins to bring functionality to art with a mission to impact lives. Knockin’ Noggins is on a mission to change how the world sees helmets through education, awareness and custom design.
In her free time, Leah enjoys hiking with her dog, catching live music and traveling anywhere she can surf.
Olwyn Moxhay is the Administrative Associate for the Entrepreneurship Minor, where her duties include budgeting, marketing, and event management. Olwyn graduated from Smith College in 2019 with a double major in Studio Art and The Study of Women and Gender. Prior to joining the Entrepreneurship Minor, Olwyn worked as the Programming Assistant for Illustration Institute, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in Portland Maine, where she assisted with managing an artist residency, scheduling and promoting a lecture series, and planning an art exhibition. Olwyn is excited to be part of the Entrepreneurship Minor team.
Senior Academic Program Coordinator
Reema joins UT Austin after spending the last 13 years working abroad in higher education. She is a versatile international education professional with experience upholding the prestige of a diverse range of academic institutions in the United States, Spain, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates. She utilizes the languages of English, Spanish, and Arabic and a natural aptitude for cross-cultural communication to harmonize the vision of educators, administrators, and community members towards executing high-impact initiatives that position institutions as leaders in their respective spaces while facilitating the long-term engagement of alumni.
Reema recently completed a Teach & Learn program in Madrid, Spain completing a master’s degree in Global Higher Education. Before that she held a secondment post as Head of Advanced Skills & Alumni Affairs with the Abu Dhabi Department of Education & Knowledge. This position was secured through the education consulting firm Reema was employed with for 4 years where she was the Head of Talent Management. At Ajyal Talent Management, she spearheaded the creation of a college preparatory program designed to propel future STEM leaders forward in their education and facilitate access to opportunities abroad with the goal of placing them in roles at a pioneering cybersecurity firm upon their return to the UAE.
Prior to joining Ajyal Talent Management, she was the Head of Registrar & Academic Advising at International Horizons College, Admissions Counselor & Recruiter at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Dubai. Before moving to the UAE, she taught English, Social Studies, and Psychology at various American schools in Amman, Jordan. Reema started her career in New Jersey, as the International Admissions Counselor & Recruiter at Caldwell University.
Reema holds a Bachelor of Arts in American Studies with a minor in Middle East Studies from Rutgers, the state university of New Jersey, and a Master’s of Science in Applied Psychology from Middlesex University and a Master’s of Art in Global Higher Education from Universidad de Alcala.