The Pearl Initiative held an event at Abu Dhabi University on 12th April 2012 with 300 future business leaders. The session, entitled “Integrity and Ethics in Business for the Next Generation of Leaders”, brought corporate leaders and role models from the region together with Abu Dhabi University students to discuss ethical practices in business, and to engage students’ minds with thought experiments, anecdotes and personal experiences.
Recognizing that students need to move beyond theory and into practice, the Pearl Initiative brought together several business leaders and academics for the session, including: Dr. Jacob Chacko, Dean of College of Business Administration at Abu Dhabi University; Fatma Al Mansour, Chief Executive Officer at Reem Finance; Mahmoud Ahmad, Vice President of Compliance and Governance, du; and Ali Baig, Head of Internal Controls and Audit, Dana Gas.
Dr. Jacob Chacko noted the importance of an educational institution that upholds “a strict code of ethics and integrity for our future generation of leaders”, and argued that these are clearly reflected in Abu Dhabi University’s institutional culture and shared values of collegiality; Inclusiveness while respectful of Arab culture; Integrity; Equity; Innovation; Agility; and Service above self.
Fatma Al Mansour, CEO, Reem Finance shared her own experience ascending the corporate ladder in the finance sector, arguing that “anyone can achieve their goals; you just have to believe in yourself first, respecting managers, understand and adhere to rules and regulations while maintaining one’s personal integrity and ethics”.
Mahmood Ahmad from du provided a rich overview on the importance of ethics in business and how to bridge the gap between the theory and the practice of corporate governance, framing the discussion by providing local and international examples of procedures in different business situations.
Ali Baig from Dana Gas, opened his presentation by defining ethics and communication; providing examples on effective types of communication, as well as elaborating on emotional intelligence, verbal and non-verbal communication, body language. Baig noted that basic etiquettes for communication modes are different and separate rules apply depending on the mode and where it is being used, whether in public, private, or business domains.
The students engaged the speakers in a dynamic Q&A session on consolidating personal integrity in a business environment, and harmonizing ethics and integrity working in a UAE-based organization that is, at the same time, functioning in an open international business environment. Students also pressed the speakers on ethical benchmarks for employee performance, ethical and respectful communication in a multi-cultural business environment, and the prevalence and cost of unethical hiring practices and how to overcome these through corporate governance training.