As students and young alumni prepare to enter the corporate world, they often find that there is more to contend with than just conducting good business—for instance, the collision of their personal value systems with workforce norms may lead to ethical predicaments.
On Oct. 3, members of the Fordham University President’s Council gathered with young Fordham alumni and current students at the New York Athletic Club to examine such predicaments in business and help students think through their own approaches to them.
This latest installment of the annual Fall Executive Leadership Series featured roundtable discussions on an array of case studies, including the implications of employing workers in developing countries and gender issues that arise with overseas clients.
“I think it’s helpful for the alumni and for the students to see that we are not so different from them, even if we’re 20 or 30 years removed,” said Mary Jane McCartney, TMC ’69, a former senior vice president for Consolidated Edison.
“What we [discussed]tonight showed that… when it comes to questions of ethics and tough decision-making, what we learned at Fordham has stayed with us.”
During the discussions, the seven students at McCartney’s table analyzed the case of a whistleblower who lost his job at a pharmaceutical company after raising concerns that a drug was being improperly promoted. According to the group, the case raised issues of loyalty to both company and employee.
“To promote this product for uses that are beyond what the FDA says is definitely a moral issue, and by drawing attention to this issue I think he actually could’ve saved the company,” said Bridget Dalton, a senior at the Gabelli School of Business.
“I think that blowing the whistle on this case is actually being loyal to the company by saying that they can’t do this, that this is immoral and it’s going to get them in trouble.”
In addition to helping students and young alumni to think about difficult scenarios, the event was also an opportunity for both networking and mentoring for the nearly 80 participants.
“It’s good to meet people who are involved in the University and have been successful in their careers,” said Brian MacLean, FCRH ’75, president and chief operating officer of Travelers Insurance and chairman of the President’s Council.
“It’s a good way for them to meet a lot of folks, and for us to share from our experiences some of the issues that they’re either facing or will be facing.”
The Executive Fall Leadership Series is one of several events that the President’s Council hosts for Fordham students and alumni. Throughout the semester, council members will mentor students, guest lecture on campus, and host students at their businesses.
“It’s a chance for them to network and to hear from alumni that have varied experiences in life and perspectives on situations,” said council member John Cesarz, GSB ’99.
“Things continue to get better and better for business students at Fordham. The school is going to open up a lot of doors and career opportunities, and increase Fordham’s brand in the finance area, which will hopefully mean new and better opportunities for all of the students going forward,” he said.