First Values-Based Leadership Conference Draws 70 Students to PC
Providence, R.I. — “Leading with Values,” the first Rhode Island Collegiate Conference on Values-Based Leadership hosted by the Providence College School of Business, attracted 70 students from colleges and universities throughout Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
“I think it’s great. It’s all about learning,” said Andy Doan, who attended from Northeastern University in Boston, where he is studying marketing and entrepreneurship. “It’s a chance to improve myself and get better.”
Participants were able to attend workshops on topics ranging from social entrepreneurship to strength-based management to intercultural proficiency. The presenters included faculty, a parent, and business leaders.
Michael J. Davis ’15P, vice president – taxes at Nestlé USA and the father of a PC freshman, spoke about “Personal Vision/Mission Creation,” advising students to create their own personal mission statements as part of their career development and job searches. He said the values-based leadership conference was a perfect fit for PC.
“This conference is Providence College,” Davis said. “A lot of other schools could present it, but it wouldn’t ring clear or accurate. You have to know who you are, and your speech and actions have to be in alignment. Everybody can use the buzzwords, but at Providence they’re walking the walk and talking the talk.”
Maintaining values and profits
The keynote lunchtime address, “Maintaining Your Values, 90 Days at a Time,” was presented by an alum, Michael S. Wyzga ’85G. Wyzga is president and chief executive officer of Radius Health, a company that manufactures drugs to treat osteoporosis and women’s health, and a member of the School of Business Advisory Council.
For more than 12 years, until the company was acquired in 2011, Wyzga was chief financial officer and executive vice president at Genzyme Corp., one of the top biotech firms in the world. Specializing in the manufacture of drugs for people with life-threatening diseases, Genzyme employed 11,000 people in 40 countries and had $5 billion in estimated annual revenue.
In its mission statement, it pledged to provide drugs to all patients, regardless of ability to pay. Wyzga discussed how the company fulfilled that mission while also dealing with the pressure of hitting “the number” — its earnings per share — every quarter.
First, “We had to create a sustainable basis. Once we were profitable, we could treat all patients, regardless of ability to pay,” said Wyzga.
Wyzga said Genzyme fulfilled its mission by keeping a plant open in Belgium that manufactured drugs for only nine patients, though the decision cost millions. It also shipped drugs to countries — including China, Russia, and Canada — that did not pay for them. When Genzyme built its new headquarters in Cambridge, it made the building employee-friendly, with lots of glass to underscore transparency.
When the occasional shareholder objected, Wyzga said he told them, “It’s simply what we do.”
Adhering to the company’s mission satisfied a question that Wyzga said he wondered about when he received an M.B.A. from PC: “Is it possible to build a company that is successful and does good things? Can you build a good company that is good?”
Helping with the job search
Dr. Matthew Eriksen, PC professor of management and department chair, organized the conference and presented a workshop about “Career Resonance: Aligning What You Do with Who You Want to Be.”
“The conference was based on a belief that the essence of leadership has to do with a leader’s authenticity and integrity,” Eriksen said. “In this current environment of ethical and moral lapses of our leaders in the housing, financial, and corporate sectors of our economy, politics, and athletics, this emphasis on the development of values-based leadership is of paramount importance to our collegiate leaders and the future of Rhode Island.”
Dr. Patrick T. Kelly, associate professor of accountancy and interim dean of the School of Business, and Dr. Matthew J. Keane, assistant professor of accountancy, spoke about “Giving Voice to Values.”
Dr. Michael L. Kraten, C.P.A., assistant professor of accountancy, discussed “Money, Values, and the Business of Health Care: A Role-Playing Exercise in Crisis Management,” while William J. Allen, special lecturer in the Department of Public and Community Service Studies, talked about “Values-based Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship.”
Dan Brown ’63, managing director of International Magazine Publishing, advised students on “Intercultural Proficiency,” discussing the need for employers to recognize cultural differences.
John F. Robitaille ’70, director of the Johnson & Wales University International Center for Entrepreneurship, delivered the opening remarks.
Ethics and values
Students said they found the workshops informative.
Matthew McKee ’14 (Old Saybrook, Conn.) noted that ethics and values have been emphasized in the accountancy class he takes with Kraten.
“Learning about values is important in the job market nowadays,” said McKee. “I don’t know if every school has this, but I think it’s helpful. It’s important to know what to do in certain situations. It can be tricky, especially in accounting.”
Kristen Winschuh ’12 (Chatham, N.J.) appreciated the advice that she should consider her values when job-hunting.
“I think it makes you look at yourself,” said Winschuh. “It also helps you think about your cover letter.”
Collin D. Kennedy ’12 (Stratford, Conn.), a student organizer of the event and president of the Future Friar Executives (FFE), said he was pleased with the turnout. He said 20 students from a variety of campus organizations assisted with the planning and promotion, including FFE, Student Congress, and the American Marketing Association chapter.
“Seventy kids for a Saturday in April is great,” said Kennedy. “It establishes a very good groundwork for years to come.”
— Vicki-Ann Downing
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