Dec. 14, 2001-Jan. 10, 2002
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Robert McDonald
“Nothing is more important than integrity,” said Robert A. McDonald (standing), president of Global Fabric & Home Care at Procter & Gamble Inc.

Executives talk about the heart of leadership

By Seamane Flanagan

A company president stresses that an ethical belief system should guide business decisions. A human resources director emphasizes the importance of balancing work and life outside of the job. These are just two of the participants Darden students chose to have speak at their second annual Values Based Leadership Conference last month.

During the two-day event — the first of its kind to be established at a top business school — several prominent business leaders spoke about the core values that guide both their professional and personal lives. These values, including integrity, honesty, responsibility and passion, are at the heart of outstanding leadership, they said.

“Nothing is more important than integrity,” Robert A. McDonald, president of Global Fabric & Home Care at Procter & Gamble Inc., told the audience of approximately 300 people from Darden, U.Va. and the local community.

When a crisis like the Sept. 11 terrorist attack hits, being available to employees goes a long way in helping them cope, said John V. Murphy, Chair, President and Chief Executive Officer of OppenheimerFunds Inc., whose headquarters in New York City were demolished that day.

“Being accessible, open and honest is the best way to deal with this kind of situation,” said Murphy. “There’s nothing more powerful than the strength of the human will. If you can get that focused, you’re going to win.”

Another speaker, Jeffrey B. Chambers, Director of Human Resources at SAS Institute, talked about a different angle in “Human Capital and the Bottom Line.” The most important investment a company can make is in its people, he said. SAS Institute, the world’s largest privately held software company, currently ranked second on Fortune’s list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For.

“Business is responsible for so much more than making a profit and paying employees,” said May graduate Hunter Mathews, who organized the first values-based conference last year with alumna Jacquelin M. Ukrop who graduated last year.

“We spend so much time at work, but we are expected to leave ourselves at the door. There is a huge separation between who we are and what we do, which shouldn’t be the case,” said Mathews.

The two women founded the conference to help M.B.A. students explore how values and leadership can be integrated in the corporate environment. Their successors, Darden students Kristen Hampton and Sally Sarratt, who co-chaired this year’s event, said they sought business leaders they believed students would want to emulate.

The event also introduces the discussion of leadership, values and ethics to Darden’s first-year students earlier in the academic session. Darden dean Robert S. Harris praised the conference, calling it “a great example of leadership development, which is the heart of Darden’s mission.”

A coalition of student clubs hosted the conference, including the Values Based Leadership Club, Marketing Club, Graduate Women in Business, Students for Responsible Business, JD/MBA Society, Darden Partners Association, Darden Christian Fellowship and the Business Technology Club. They received corporate sponsorship from the Olsson Center for Applied Ethics, the PepsiCo Foundation, the ServiceMaster Company and Opportunity Consultants Inc.


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