Our staff are central to the mission of the Business Engagement Center. As a means to get to know us and what makes us tick, our staff profile series is designed to offer insight into our team. Next in the series is Sheila Waterhouse, the communications and marketing lead for the Business Engagement Center.

Q: Tell us three things most people don’t know about you…

  1. I live for snow days. I will get up insanely early if we get enough snow overnight to cross country ski in the morning (pre-dawn, headlamp, lovely!)
  2. I am really good at parallel parking – and backing up with a trailer. Fond memories from my days in the trucking industry.
  3. After a long hiatus, I just started taking piano lessons again. I played until I was 18 and dabbled for years but missed playing regularly. My teacher is an 83 year old neighbor who I’m pretty sure has more energy than I do.

Q: What is the biggest surprise you’ve found in your work in corporate relations?

Cross country skiing near the Potowatomi Trail.

Just how much synergy there is in a lot of our partnerships. The structure of organizations are so vastly different, but there’s this convergence in priorities that makes a really powerful research or philanthropic project. It’s exciting to be a part of it.

Q: What are three career lessons you’ve learned thus far?

  1. Embrace change. It’s happening anyways. It can happen to you or you can be a part of it.
  2. Ask questions. Not sure what you’re doing? Ask questions. Not sure why you’re doing it? Ask questions.
  3. Learn something every day. If you’re not learning, you’re not doing your job.

Q: What do you like most about your job?

How exceptional everyone at U-M is. Today I learned about faculty research in collision avoidance. Last week I learned about students organizing self-taught programs on bitcoin technology. There’s an unstoppable energy among people here. The sky’s the limit.

Q: What are 3 words to describe the BEC?

  • Creative
  • Dynamic
  • Collaborative

Q: What has been your favorite project at the BEC?

We’re reimagining how we provide feedback on partnerships to companies. Gone should be the days of standard paper reports; they don’t reflect the state of excellence at the University of Michigan, the data at our fingertips, and the technology around us. We are exploring digital, video, and content that is ROI focused. We want our partners to know the ‘What’s In It For Me’ factor.

BEC, Shelia Waterhouse 2018

Q: What’s the next big thing at U-M for companies to get involved in?

The pace of change is astounding, and our faculty have their pulse on what is happening, pushing the boundaries of their research. Industry is clamoring for those opportunities, be it in AI and machine learning broadly, data science, or personalized medicine. What we see isn’t necessarily industry-focused research so much. Tech companies are investing in healthcare research. Healthcare companies are investing in AI. Opportunities are open across the spectrum of industries, all over campus.

Q: What do you do for fun?

Two things come quickly to mind: camping and adventuring with my family is a huge happy place. We love the outdoors, as rustic and off the grid as possible. If the weather happens to be nice, all the better!

In a whole other avenue, I love making things. I’m knitting something for everyone in my family for Christmas and working on graduation quilts for my two high school seniors. I love teaching people handcrafts that our grandmothers did. If I see something DIY, I try to reverse engineer it if I can.