Posts Tagged ‘Burkenroad Symposium’

Ernst & Young CEO highlights importance of global ethics

Monday, February 25th, 2013

In the wake of Enron and other corporate scandals, business schools across the nation have put a much greater emphasis on the teaching of ethics, but in a talk at the A. B. Freeman School of Business last Friday (Feb. 22), James S. Turley, chairman and CEO of Ernst & Young, said those efforts can only go so far.

“I’m not sure whether in a university you can teach ethics,” Turley told a packed audience in Dixon Hall on Tulane’s Uptown campus. “My guess is if someone doesn’t have it by the time they come here, it’s going to be really hard to convince them they should have it.

James S. Turley

James S. Turley, center, chairman and CEO of Ernst & Young, discussed global ethics as featured speaker at the 20th annual Burkenroad Symposium.

“I am fairly convinced you can un-teach ethics,” he quickly added. “If you’re in an environment where someone comes in and they think, ‘I play by the rules,’ and they see everyone around them cheating, you can un-teach it pretty quickly.”

Turley discussed integrity, ethics and transparency in a global business environment as the featured speaker at the Burkenroad Institute’s 20th annual Symposium on Business and Society. Joining Turley for a wide-ranging conversation on business ethics were Adrienne Colella, director of the Burkenroad Institute; Daryl G. Byrd, president and CEO of Iberiabank; James M. Lapeyre Jr., president of Laitram; and Ira Solomon, dean of the Freeman School.

To help prevent the “un-teaching” of ethics, Turley said organizations must endeavor to create a culture of integrity from the top down, but just as importantly, those organizations need to put systems into place to ensure that their commitment to ethical conduct is being met on a daily basis.

“It’s not just training and culture,” Turley said. “It’s holding people accountable and doing so in ways that are measurable. It’s really important to hold business unit leaders and practice leaders accountable for an array of cultural [objectives], not just for revenue growth and profitability.”

In today’s business environment, with centers of economic power shifting to new countries and new cultures, Turley said it’s even more critical for companies to develop a global set of values and a global code of conduct.

“People coming out of universities today want to be in an organization that has strong standards and a clear sense of purpose,” said Turley. “If you do not have something that unites the many different cultures that are present in your workforce, you’re going to lose some of the best talent and you’re going to be at the scene of many more train wrecks than you’d like to be at the scene of.”

And while Turley may have some doubts about the ability to teach ethics in business school, he said there’s still much that universities can do to help prospective managers avoid unethical behavior.

“In any kind of ethics, fraud or corruption issue, there’s always a combination of pressure to do something wrong, opportunity to do something wrong and then the need to justify why you did something wrong,” Turley said. “I would encourage places like Tulane to continue to help people understand this intersection—the triangle of pressure, opportunity and justification—because it’s real.”

The Burkenroad Symposium was just one of several events at the Freeman School that Turley participated in. He also attended a breakfast with faculty, alumni and local business leaders prior to the symposium, and he joined students for a luncheon workshop on business ethics immediately following the symposium.

“Jim Turley leads a huge global professional services organization and is one of the most astute leaders I know,” said Freeman School Dean Ira Solomon. “It was a very special honor to have him join us and share his experiences and expertise with our students and faculty.”

To see photos from the Burkenroad Institute’s 20th annual Symposium on Business and Society, visit the Freeman School’s Flickr site.

Crisis experts tout importance of ethical leadership

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

Having a well-defined code of ethics may not prevent every crisis, but according to one of the speakers at this year’s Burkenroad Symposium on Business and Society, it helps prevent those crises that do occur from becoming worse.

This year's Burkenroad Symposium on Business and Society emphasized the importance of ethical leadership during times of crisis.

“Ethical leadership is one of the ways of keeping problems problems before they become catastrophes,” said Gael O’Brien, principal of the consulting firm Strategic Opportunities Group and a columnist for Business Ethics magazine.

The importance of ethical leadership was a central theme of this year’s program, “Honor in the Face of Fire: Turning Crisis into Opportunity.” The symposium, an annual presentation of the Freeman School’s Burkenroad Institute, took place on Friday (Feb. 18) in the Lavin-Bernick Center.

In addition to O’Brien, this year’s presenters included Anjali Sheffrin, a research professor with the Tulane Energy Institute, and Robert Ulmer, a professor of speech communication at the University of Arkansas and an internationally recognized expert in crisis communications. Adrienne Colella, James McFarland Distinguished Chair in Business and director of the institute, moderated.

O’Brien said a common theme in many recent business crises—ranging from Countrywide Financial and Toyota to Massey Energy and BP—is self-deception on the part of company executives.

Gael O'Brien

Gael O'Brien

“Unethical behavior is really a result of other behaviors that blind us from seeing what is actually happening,” she said. “Self-deception allows us to distort reality so that we think what we’re doing is somehow justifiable.”

The solution, O’Brien suggested, is to foster a culture of two-way communication within organizations and to make values a fundamental part of corporate strategy.

“Ethical leadership does increase trust and avert crises,” she said. “Not standing for something means you don’t have a basis on which to make decisions.”

O’Brien cited FM Global, a Rhode Island-based insurance company, as a good example of ethical leadership in action. A core value of the company is the belief that all loss is preventable, and as an outgrowth of that belief, O’Brien said the company hires engineers to work with clients to reduce the risk of unnecessary losses.

“Ethical leadership is essentially about creating a win-win situation and ensuring that the organization you’ve been entrusted with is going to be able to survive,” she said.

Anjali Sheffrin

Sheffrin, former chief economist for the California Independent System Operator, told the story of her experience as market monitor during the California energy crisis. It was Sheffrin who ultimately proved that companies like Enron were manipulating the wholesale electricity market to drive up prices at the expense of the public.

When it was first introduced, California’s electricity market was praised as a model of innovation that would rely on competition to drive down energy costs, but Sheffrin said none of the individuals involved in creating the system questioned some of the assumptions at its core.

“Always question the fundamental assumptions people are making,” Sheffrin said. “If people had questioned those assumptions, we might have prevented some of the damage.”

Ulmer closed out the symposium by emphasizing the importance of ethical communications during times of crisis. Too many companies don’t spend enough time developing and articulating organizational values, he said, which puts them at a disadvantage when a crisis occurs.

Robert Ulmer

“Because we haven’t really thought about what our values are, we start thinking about things like reputation and image and this is going to be on the front page of the New York Times,” Ulmer said. “If you haven’t thought about how you would respond and how you would communicate in a situation, you’re more apt to have a maladaptive response.”

During times of crisis, Ulmer said organizations should remember to listen to stakeholders, avoid spin, focus on solutions rather than reputation, and—most importantly—always tell the truth.

“Lawsuits come back years and years later, and if you have to start to think, what did I say again, that’s where you start to look silly,” he said. “That’s why values are crucial to organizational responses.”

Burkenroad Symposium to explore turning crisis into opportunity

Monday, February 7th, 2011

From the Deepwater Horizon disaster to the subprime mortgage debacle to the chaotic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, recent history is filled with examples of crises that pose daunting, multileveled challenges to the organizations involved, but those trying events can also present unique opportunities.

Honor in the Face of Fire: Turning Crisis into Opportunity

The 18th annual Burkenroad Symposium will explore organizational crisis and how businesses can turn adversity into competitive advantage.

For the 18th annual Burkenroad Symposium on Business and Society, “Honor in the Face of Fire: Turning Crisis into Opportunity,” a distinguished panel of scholars and business experts will explore the issue of organizational crisis and discuss ways in which forward-thinking companies can transform adversity into competitive advantage.

The symposium, an annual presentation of the Burkenroad Institute at Tulane University’s A. B. Freeman School of Business, will take place on Friday, Feb. 18, at 10 a.m. in the Kendall Cram Lecture Hall of the Lavin Bernick Center. The event is free and open to the public.

“Crises can result from negligence, chance or willful misdoing, but regardless of the cause, the critical issue is how organizations prepare for crisis and, more importantly, how they respond, both internally and externally,” says Adrienne Colella, the James McFarland Distinguished Chair in Business and director of the Burkenroad Institute. “The speakers at this year’s Symposium on Business and Society will address the ethical, leadership and communication issues involved when organizations experience a crisis.”

This year’s presenters include three nationally recognized experts in the areas of ethical leadership and social responsibility, energy management, and crisis communications.

Gael O’Brien is founder and principal of Strategic Opportunities Group, a consulting firm specializing in ethical leadership, social responsibility and crisis management. A columnist for Business Ethics magazine and author of The Week in Ethics, an influential blog covering corporate ethics, O’Brien is co-author with Deepak Chopra and Jack Canfield of Stepping Stones to Success. In 1996, O’Brien was recruited by Mitsubishi Motor Manufacturing of America to help create a model workplace after the company was sued by the EEOC. She later served as vice president for corporate communications and public affairs with Mitsubishi Motors North America and as president of Mitsubishi Motors USA Foundation. O’Brien was also director of marketing at Price Waterhouse, chief of staff for a senate leader in the Ohio Senate and assistant editor at The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Anjali Sheffrin is a research professor at the Tulane Energy Institute specializing in market design for wholesale electricity markets, economics of renewables and regulatory policy. Sheffrin has 27 years of management experience in the electric utility industry, and as chief economist for the California Independent System Operator, she was the market monitor during the state’s energy crisis, where she led the effort to identify market manipulation and gaming in the wholesale electricity market.

Robert R. Ulmer is professor and chair of the Department of Speech Communication at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. An internationally recognized expert in risk and crisis communication, Ulmer was one of the first researchers to focus on finding positive results from a crisis, and his approach, called the discourse of renewal, is now used throughout the business and health industries as a way to communicate crisis-driven information effectively. Ulmer has co-authored five books and over 40 research articles on effective crisis communication. His most recent book, Effective Crisis Communication: Moving from Crisis to Opportunity, explores how effective crisis communications can be used to develop a meaningful dialog and shared understanding with stakeholders.

The Burkenroad Institute was established in 1990 to increase the understanding of and promote, through research and education, the ethical decision making of business leaders. Through the annual Symposium on Business and Society, the institute’s objective is to focus attention on the corporate social responsibilities of business leaders as well as to stimulate thought and discussion among students, faculty, executives and community leaders about some of the difficult issues that face today’s leaders and managers. National experts in business, education, journalism and policy making participate in this annual conference.

For more information about this year’s symposium, contact Christian Galvin at 504-862-8481 or

Burkenroad Symposium explores emerging technologies

Monday, March 1st, 2010

From rooftop solar panels to tissue-engineered human organs, many of the innovations we take for granted today became reality through the combined efforts of scientists, inventors, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.

For the 17th Burkenroad Symposium on Business and Society, “The Quest for Fool’s Gold: The Risks and Rewards of Emerging Technologies,” three nationally respected experts in the areas of nanotechnology, alternative energy and regenerative medicine offered their thoughts on what it takes to bring cutting-edge technologies to market.

The symposium, an annual presentation of the Burkenroad Institute, took place on Friday, Feb. 26, in the Lavin-Bernick Center. Laura B. Cardinal, Exxon Professor of Strategy and director of the institute, moderated the event. (more…)

Symposium highlights emerging technologies

Friday, February 19th, 2010

Research shows that just a tiny percentage of technological innovations cross over to mainstream success, but that doesn’t stop entrepreneurs, inventors, scientists, corporations, investors and governments from pumping millions of dollars into emerging technologies in an effort to discover the next big thing.


The 17th Annual Burkenroad Symposium will take place Friday, Feb. 26, at 10 a.m. in the Lavin-Bernick Center's Kendall Cram Lecture Hall.

“You see these bandwagons where we chase hot new technologies, but which ones will be viable, how they’ll be commercialized and when they’ll become mainstream is anyone’s guess,” says Laura B. Cardinal, Exxon Professor of Strategy at the A. B. Freeman School of Business and director of the Burkenroad Institute. “There are huge rewards but also significant risks, and lots of money gets spent in pursuit of the quest.”

For the 17th Annual Burkenroad Symposium on Business and Society, Cardinal turns the spotlight on three emerging technologies with the potential to transform life in the 21st century. “The Quest for Fool’s Gold: The Risks and Rewards of Emerging Technologies” will feature panelists David L. Carroll, director of the Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials at Wake Forest University; Stephen R. Connors, director of the Analysis Group for Regional Energy Alternatives (AGREA) at Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Thomas B. Clarkson, director of planning and business development at Wake Forest University’s Institute of Regenerative Medicine.

“Regenerative medicine is very hot, but we’ve just scratched the surfaced,” Cardinal says. “Nano is in everything now. It’s in medicine, it’s in solar, it’s in Kraft food packaging. People have no idea how pervasive it has become. It’s touching all kinds of products in our lives. And then we’ve have this whole quest for sustainable energy, whether it’s solar, wind, geothermal, ethanol or something else. These are people’s quests and everyone is working on this stuff anticipating the next big thing.”

Cardinal says the panelists, whose backgrounds span science, academia and entrepreneurship, will discuss what it will take to commercialize their respective technologies as well as take them mainstream. She says she hopes the symposium will attract entrepreneurs looking for new ideas as well researchers from local science, engineering and medical schools.

The Burkenroad Symposium will take place at on Friday, Feb. 26, at 10 a.m. in the Lavin-Bernick Center’s Kendall Cram Lecture Hall. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, call 505-865-5837 or e-mail Prof. Cardinal at

Burkenroad Symposium looks at leadership

Tuesday, March 11th, 2008

In her introductory remarks at this year’s Burkenroad Symposium on Business and Society, moderator Laura Cardinal said she hoped to present a “kaleidoscope” of perspectives on critical leadership, and that’s just what the four speakers assembled for this year’s program provided.

“Critical Moments in Leadership: Changing the Rules of the Game,” the topic of the 15th annual symposium, examined the issue of critical leadership from perspectives including corporate governance, crisis management, government and personal values.

Holly J. Gregory, a partner at the law firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges, led off the speakers with a discussion of corporate governance in the wake of recent scandals involving companies like Enron, Tyco and Converse Technology. Gregory, who counsels corporate clients on governance issues and has served on the “fix-up” teams hired to right organizations in the wake of scandals, said the rules of corporate governance have changed in recent years, but not dramatically.

“It isn’t a change in direction so much as a bringing to light of the accountability paradigm that was always intended in governance–managers who are really accountable to boards of directors and boards of directors who are really accountable to the shareholders,” Gregory said. “A recurring theme in corporate governance that’s been highlighted by many of these corporate crises is the need for the board to continually insure that it has the best managers running the company, and by best I mean best in terms of performance but also best in terms of leadership and ethics.”

Bill Carey, the author of Leave No One Behind: Hurricane Katrina and the Rescue of Tulane Hospital, followed Gregory with a discussion of the response of HCA, the operators of Tulane Hospital, to the crisis of Katrina. HCA spent thousands of dollars preparing for Katrina prior to its arrival, but the company also issued a general directive to its employees at the hospital to do anything necessary to run the hospital and take care of patients.

“This directive was far more important than preparation,” Carey said. “If they had done nothing to get ready, this would have saved them, and if they’d done twice as much to get ready but didn’t have this general directive and this spirit, it wouldn’t have worked.”

Carey cited the example of the hospital’s CEO, who took the initiative to tear down light poles on the roof of its parking garage to enable rescue helicopters to land.

“With 20/20 hindsight it seems very logical that this is what they would have done,” Carey said. “But there are environments where people would worry about taking down these street lights.”

Frank Stewart Jr., chairman of Stewart Enterprises, brought the discussion to a more personal level with a discussion of his approach to critical decisions throughout his career. Good decision making, Stewart said, requires subordinating one’s ego. “Ego is the cause of wars, divorces and failure in business,” Stewart said. “You need to be honest and open enough to know we don’t have all the answers and other people in life are very important.”

Sam Mok, managing member of the management consulting firm Condor International Advisors and former CFO of the U.S. Department Labor, closed out the symposium with a discussion of leadership from a government perspective. Mok cited the example of Admiral Thad Allen, commander of the U.S. Coast Guard, who took over the federal government’s response to Katrina when FEMA Director Michael Brown was relieved of duty. Mok said that Allen told him the Coast Guard succeeded where FEMA had failed because it treated Katrina not as a natural disaster but as a weapon of mass destruction. Responding to the storm in that way made all the difference.

“You have to know how to diagnose the problem and use the right playbook,” Mok concluded. “The critical moment in leadership at that time was identifying the problem correctly.”

The Burkenroad Symposium, an annual presentation of the Burkenroad Institute for the Study of Ethics and Leadership in Management at the Freeman School, took place on Friday, March 7, in the Kendall Cram Lecture Hall of the Lavin-Bernick Center.

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