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2014 Student Leadership Conference: The Gateway to Ethical Leadership (July/August 2014)

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Ethics Matters

July/August 2014

During a sunny day in St. Louis, MO, while most young people were enjoying their summer vacations, 52 select college students were engaged in an intense series of interviews with business executives, navigating through the details of a business ethics case study. The point of their interaction: to learn about integrity, accountability and ethical leadership.

This type of challenging curriculum is what the 4th Annual NASBA CPT Student Leadership Conference was all about. Held June 11-12, the conference featured multidisciplinary group of student leaders and chapter advisors from 28 different colleges and universities.

“The real thing that stuck out to me was the diversity of attendees,” said Corey Porter from Ohio University. “I really appreciated the number of students who were not business majors as it provided a new perspective on topics I typically associate with business.”

Keynote speakers and conference workshops directed their messages toward the consistent theme ethics do matter. Jerry Esselstein, Principal in Jerry L. Esselstein Company, LLC, a business advisory, strategic planning and project management firm, kicked off the two day meeting with a dynamic presentation on 10 strategies for enhancing effectiveness, explaining that students “need to have more pride for doing things right, rather than reward for doing things wrong.”

Larry Bridgesmith, J.D., then spoke on effectively managing conflict. He explained that sustainable leadership requires continuous assessments, improvements and critical thinking. “What works in one situation may be totally inappropriate in another,” he shared. “In leadership, one size never fits all.”

Attendees also had the opportunity to learn about strengths-based leadership from Eli Lilly’s Duane Hughes. He helped students understand how to capitalize on their strengths and add the greatest possible value to their organizations.

Students additionally discussed best practices for building, operating and sustaining successful StudentCPT chapters on their respective campuses in an interactive forum.

Throughout the conference, students were encouraged to lead with integrity, be accountable for their actions, and utilize the skills they learned to make ethical decisions in the future.

“My biggest takeaway is just being inspired to always do the right thing, no matter the situation,” said Kira Antoine of Rutgers University – Newark.

The enthusiasm, professionalism and eagerness to network displayed by these students, made the conference rewarding for both students and speakers. Plans are currently being developed for the 2015 Student Leadership Conference in Denver, CO.

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