MIS students learn honesty-based leadership

St. Louis junior Brian Keffer and Warren Buffet perform a Sic ’em after Buffet, chairman and CEO of Brookshire Hathaway, spoke to Baylor MIS majors in Omaha, Neb.
Courtesy Photo

By Molly Packer

Management Information Systems students are ready to become business leaders with the integrity to change the world. Because of their specific training and extracurricular experiences, students said they feel prepared to deal with serious situations with a level of honesty that seems to be missing in the business world today.

St. Louis junior Brian Keffer said he loves the emphasis Baylor’s Management Information Systems major places on leadership because it is different than technology-focused majors at other universities.

“I actually transferred to Baylor before my sophomore year to become an MIS major,” Keffer said.

One important aspect in Baylor’s Management Information Systems department is the leadership class that all Management Information Systems students must take. The class is designed in a way that allows students to meet with business leaders from around Waco and the country. Students also come up with ways to solve global problems using the technology and business information they learn.

A large part of the class consisted of students developing ways to help non-profit organizations solve problems they were having.

Dr. Hope Koch, information systems professor, said learning to help others is a big part of business integrity.

“We put students in positions where their integrity is tested as young people,” Koch said. “When they get to higher levels, they’ll be accustomed to helping people using integrity. I think that chapel and mission work here also shows how making the world a better place is really a part of integrity.”

At the end of March, several Management Information Systems students, including Keffer, visited Omaha, Neb., to see Warren Buffett, the third-richest man in the world.

“That was definitely a highlight of my time at college and it was also interesting to hear a lot of Warren Buffett’s values,” Keffer said. “His number one rule is don’t do anything you wouldn’t want your mother to see in the newspaper. I thought it was interesting to see that the most successful man over the past 30 or 40 years still strongly believes in honesty and integrity.”

Around the time Management Information Systems students visited Buffett, the billionaire’s possible heir, David Sokol, was caught in a stock scandal that brought bad publicity on Sokol and Buffett.

“There’s not a day that goes by that you don’t hear about business leaders without integrity that get caught. All I can say is we’re in a hurting world,” Koch said. “The more we can produce students with integrity and leaders with integrity, the more we can do to help and produce a sort of light in a dark world.”

Keffer said the business world is ready for a change in the value of integrity.

“There are a lot of gray areas in decision-making, but if you always keep integrity in the back of your mind, you’ll be fine,” Keffer said. “I think there has been a movement where people figure out that integrity and honesty win in the end. People realize that, in the long run, you’re better showing integrity than earning a few extra dollars.”

Dallas senior Kendall Zapffe said she learned a lot about integrity from her visit with Buffett as well.

“Before the trip, I didn’t know how interesting it would be because I am an MIS major and he does investments,” Zapffe said. “The trip, though, was an amazing experience. Mr. Buffett’s main points were not about how to invest. He always brought every response at the Q&A back to us as individuals. Mr. Buffett told us that the most important thing to do to be successful is to be someone that is honest and that people want to work with. You will go far in your career if you are someone that people want to work with.”

Zapffe said the leadership class has made a big impact on her.

“I believe the MIS leadership class is one of the most shaping experiences that I’ve had at Baylor. It was a very maturing experience,” she said. “We were able to compete in the Microsoft Imagine Cup in which my team developed a Web- based application to help connect volunteers and volunteer organizations.”