Business Leadership and Ethics Day Brings Nearly 30 Speakers to CampusApril 8, 2015

Barnett Helzberg, former CEO and owner of Helzberg Diamonds, speaks to a marketing policy class during the 2015 Business Leadership and Ethics Day.



Business, leadership and ethics. Three concepts that have a tendency to intersect with one another. But how important is ethical decision making in business? In addition to studying it, Rockhurst University students were given the opportunity to hear directly from current business leaders — many of whom are RU alumni — as part of the Helzberg School of Management’s third annual Business Leadership and Ethics Day.

Nearly 30 business professionals spoke to classes throughout the day on Tuesday, April 7, representing a variety of nonprofit and for-profit organizations. These speakers shared expertise, discussed their career paths, offered guidance on ethical decision making, and answered student questions.

“I love that Rockhurst offers opportunities like this to learn from graduates,” said Sarah Pezold, ’18, who is triple majoring in political science, economics and Spanish. “To me, this shows the value of a Rockhurst degree. By offering extensive leadership opportunities and an education that incorporates the Jesuit ideals, along with these kinds of reflections from leaders who practice strong ethical values in their business, I feel Rockhurst is thoroughly preparing me for the real world.”

DeAnn Lehigh, ’87, assistant district counsel at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, spoke to Pezold’s honors microeconomics class.

“Be courageous,” Lehigh advised the students. “Often times, ethical issues are allowed to fester because people are afraid to be courageous. If you see something wrong, speak up.”

Lehigh also encouraged students to use their time in college to learn about themselves.

“Find out your likes, dislikes, what you’re good at,” she said. “Let yourself discern, then be confident in what you find. It will help you be a better leader.”

Across campus, Donna Valponi, ’86 MBA, vice president of communications and membership at the American Academy of Family Physicians, spoke to an introduction to nonprofit class, offering insight into her personal career path which spanned positions in both the nonprofit and for-profit sectors.

“My advice to you is to let your career path unfold,” she said. “Work to make things happen as you go, rather than starting out with one end result in mind.”

Back in Conway Hall, Dennis Schmidt, ’15 EMBA, painted a picture of his own personal experience in international business.

“You need to understand the culture you are doing business in,” said Schmidt. “In doing this, you’ll earn respect. Your way is not the only solution.”

One alumnus, Matthew Barksdale, '04 EMBA, co-founder and president of Engage Mobile Solutions, wrote about his experience as a speaker in his company blog

For a list of this year’s speakers, visit See photos from the event in our online gallery.

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