By Michael Knight | Reporter
Students gathered in the Foster Campus of Business and Innovation Tuesday night to hear a keynote speech from Ambassador Douglas A. Silliman, president of the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington. Silliman related stories from his own experiences to touch on various topics related to ethics and problem solving.
The keynote was the first of the 2019 Dale P. Jones Business Ethics Forum. There will be eight other speakers and panels throughout the next few weeks all pertaining to ethical practices.
The Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington (AGSIW) is a non-profit organization that was started in 2015. The group is “dedicated to providing expert research and analysis of the social, economic and political dimensions of the Gulf Arab states and key neighboring countries and how they affect domestic and foreign policy.”
Now the president of the organization, Silliman was most recently the U.S. ambassador to Iraq for a few years and to Kuwait for a few more. He has been involved with the Department of State since 1984.
Silliman told several stories pertaining to ethics that he has heard about or experienced himself throughout his time in the Department of State and as the president of the AGSIW. He focused on one main story about a car repair shop in Iraq, breaking it down to its core and speaking about three main components: the role of government in the country, individual identity and opportunity, and corruption.
Silliman also engaged the audience in an exercise, calling it the “seventh-inning stretch” due to Tuesday’s event occurring at the same time as game six of the World Series. He had everyone in the room stand up and raise their hand when he mentioned something that describes them. Silliman included identities like “business major” or liking certain foods, but finished with “American.”
“In the United States, almost everyone thinks of themselves very proudly as an American,” Silliman said. “It may tend to be that you are American above any of your identities…but in many countries around the world, there is not this overarching national identity that unifies people and gives people a base to which they can add different identities.”
Silliman gave three final thoughts about doing business overseas, and also answered audience questions with a Q&A session. He suggested that everyone check out doc.gov to learn about the Department of Commerce and the resources they have online. Silliman also recommended to look at how easy or hard it is to do business overseas in certain countries, and to learn about corruption in the societies students are interested in doing business with in the future.
Dr. Mitchell Neubert, associate dean for research and faculty development, introduced the event and gave the student audience an idea of what the forum will look like throughout early November.
“This is the opening event in the ethics forum,” Neubert said. “We typically have a whole series of events. There’s also a series of competitions…this is extra time to think about ethics and how it applies to the professions that you hope to be in in the future and to hear from people outside your professors about making ethical decisions.”
As Neubert alluded to, there will also be the 13th annual National MBA Case Competition in Ethical Leadership on Nov. 7-8. Teams from across the nation will compete, finding the best ways to handle ethical dilemmas. For more information about the event and forum, visit the program web page.