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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

McGladrey President Speaks At His Alma Mater

On Monday, March 1, McGladrey President C.E. Andrews had the opportunity to give a speech on business ethics at his alma mater, Virginia Tech, where he spoke to approximately 1,500 students and faculty at the Pamplin College of Business.

According to C.E., “Business Ethics is a topic that is personally very important to me and paramount to our profession. I think that most of us who work here at McGladrey already have a strong moral compass and operate with a high degree of ethics and integrity. Our clients expect that from us each and every day. In fact, it’s one of the reasons why I joined the firm. We need to strive to provide our clients with the strongest and most ethical service capability in the industry. Each client interaction is a window into who we are, and we can never be better than our reputation. A high ethical standard is more fundamental to our business than many others, and is something we should aspire to be famous for.”

C.E. opened his speech with a Hokie Cheer, then shared his wisdom of over 30 years of experience as he spoke passionately about the ethical dilemmas that businesses face every day. At one point in the speech, C.E. offered a few suggestions to strengthen one’s ‘moral compass’:

  • First, your instinct is a powerful guide. If something doesn’t seem right, but you’re not quite sure why, don’t rationalize it away. Don’t look for reasons to let something pass. If something is bugging you about whether someone is being truthful or acting ethically, listen to your gut. It’s telling you something. Remember, it’s not just what you do, but what you do in response to the actions of others, that marks you as an ethical person.
  • Second, don’t be an island. As a leader, no matter where you go, you have to set the highest example, and make sure your people follow your lead.
  • Third, take your time. Even if you are faced with an ethical decision which seems straightforward, don’t rush. Sleep on it. Resist the urge to be fast. It’s far more important to be right. And take the counsel of others.
  • Fourth, think of your ethics as the bedrock of your reputation. At the company I lead, we evaluate people on many different metrics. One important measure is how much revenue they bring in and manage – their book of business. But I also care a lot about their ethical book of business.
  • Fifth, even if you think you’re right, don’t assume you’re always right. It’s often very wise to counsel with others – what are you missing, what does someone else see that you don’t?
  • Finally, no matter the ethical decision you are about to make, think how your decision will look. Someone out there who has a very strong interest in making sure you act ethically. Think of what they would say.

Great advice indeed.

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