Last week on Friday I participated in an Ethics Case Competition sponsored by the student organization LEAD. The fictional case we were given was about a salesman who was sent overseas in someone’s place in order to win a $50 million contract. The client then told the salesman to bring $6,000 – $7,000 worth of whiskey to the contract signing. The salesman knew there was a company gifting policy and guidelines on what constitutes bribery. However, he could not remember what the guidelines were, nor could he get hold of anyone from his company. It was up to us to do an analysis of the situation and make a recommendation in a ten minute presentation to a panel of judges.
I’m a competitive person just like my competition partner, Abbey Vanderwoude. That’s what drove us to spend a ton of time doing research, preparing our analysis, arguments and presentation. (Don’t be fooled, it requires a lot of effort to deliver a worthy presentation in this competition. You should devote quite a bit of time and energy to it).
Even though we ultimately fell short of victory it was still a good experience to participate in. Sure it was a fictional case, but in listening to Dennis Barsema‘s keynote that day and in talking with my father who also is in sales, situations like this occur in the real world.
It is no surprise that the NIU College of Business truly prepares you for ethical dilemmas and how to best approach them. The College of Business truly stands by its brand statement of “Where the Classroom Meets the Business World” and its philosophy of “Thinking & Doing.” Even though it isn’t really possible to teach someone how to be ethical; this college does do its share in teaching the concept of ethics and provides tools for people to take steps in the right direction. This college is after all, recognized for how it incorporates ethics in its curriculum (ranked 3rd in the nation in 2011 according to Businessweek).
Through an experience such as this and listening to other people’s experiences you can learn to guide yourself in the proper direction. In Mr. Barsema’s words, you need to understand yourself and your values to let your moral compass lead you down the right path in deciding between “doing things right and doing the right thing.”
I encourage everyone to participate in the Ethics Case next year if you have the opportunity to do it. It truly is a wonderful experience.