Dean’s Distinguished Lecture Series: CEO John Hall on the Importance of Ethics in Business

CEO John Hall speaks to the audience at the LaSells Stewart Center as part of the Dean’s Distinguished Lecture Series

John Hall, owner and CEO of 16 Degree Advisory, discussed the importance of business ethics to about 475 attendees of a public lecture May 7 at Oregon State University’s LaSells Stewart Center.

Hall’s talk, “Making Ethical Decisions When Success Is Defined by Profits,” was the latest installment of the Dean’s Distinguished Lecture Series, which brings business leaders from across the United States to Oregon State’s campus to address a variety of today’s most relevant business topics.

Hall discussed the ways in which corporate fraud is detected and reported, the types of industries that are most prone to fraud and other ethical lapses, and who the individuals are within organizations that are most likely to perpetrate the fraud.

John Hall sits down with assistant professor Inara Scott for a post-lecture Q & A.

In order to prevent ethical lapses and fraud, Hall stressed the importance of employers and organizations instilling an “ethics culture” that starts at the highest rungs of leadership and reaches all the way to the entry level employees.

The topic of Hall’s discussion was especially poignant, as the College of Business at Oregon State recently became the first college on campus to institute its own Code of Honor. The code was developed by students and then approved by faculty members and focuses on integrity, responsibility and respect – three facets of an ethical organization that Hall whole-heartedly endorsed during his lecture.

The good news? According to Hall, observed episodes of workplace misconduct are actually on the decline, based on data from the National Business Ethics Survey’s Ethics Resource Center. This is largely due to the fact that two out of three companies now have “positive” ethics cultures.

“This increase in ethical commitment is significant because ethics culture drives employee conduct,” said Hall. “When companies value ethical performance and build strong cultures, misconduct is substantially lower.”

Misconduct Declines
The stronger an organization’s ‘Ethics Culture,’ the less misconduct is observed within that organization

Before launching 16 Degree Advisory, Hall was the co-founder and owner of EthicsPoint, Inc., which later became the $100 million software company NAVEX Global, where Hall was the chief ethics and compliance officer.


Professional Development Workshops help students prepare for job market

Pinky Gonzales discussing how students could work to build their own brand before even venturing out into the job market

Leaving with not only a degree but also a solid understanding of the professional world is a key to a successful college experience, something the College of Business Career Success Center understands.

In addition to their other services for students, fall term the CSC is offering a series of Professional Development Workshops to give students an opportunity to learn from experts outside the college who know what employers are looking for.

The first workshops explored resume and personal brand development, with sessions on social media in the job search, professional dress and leadership development still to come.

The most recent session on Oct. 17 featured Kathrine Giacchino and Pinky Gonzales discussing how students could work to build their own brand before even venturing out into the job market.

Kathrine Giacchino discussing how students could work to build their own brand before even venturing out into the job market

Giacchino works with Rubicon International, a boutique technology consulting firm headquartered in Portland, while Gonzales is the Founder and Chief Strategist of Portland-based Upriver Solutions.

The next workshop takes place Oct. 31 at 3 p.m. in Bexell 415, with talent development professional Lea McLeod discussing how social media can be used to help secure a job.

Panda Express co-CEO discusses how to create a culture

Peggy Cherng speaking at the Dean's Distinguished Lecture Series
Peggy Cherng speaking at the Dean’s Distinguished Lecture Series

Panda Express co-CEO and Oregon State alumna Peggy Cherng let the crowd at the Oregon State College of Business Dean’s Distinguished Lecture in on a little secret Wednesday.

“I happen to be good in math, good in engineering, but I don’t really know how to cook,” Cherng said.

Cherng discussed how the Panda Restaurant group, which operates the popular Panda Express chain, focuses on creating an atmosphere where associates can grow and better serve guests.

“We don’t call them employees but associates, because they’re our partners,” Cherng explained. “We want to build an organization where people are inspired to better their lives.”

Panda focuses on fostering a culture that creates happy associates, which becomes happy guests.

“The judges out there are you, and we will work very hard to be loved by you,” Cherng said. “But first we have to work on ourselves and love ourselves.”

The chain has more than 1,500 locations, opening 100 new stores this past year. With such a wide network, the company encourages decentralized learning, where associates take initiative to learn on their own with resources from Panda.

Peggy Cherng speaking at the Dean's Distinguished Lecture Series
Peggy Cherng speaking at the Dean’s Distinguished Lecture Series

After her talk, Cherng sat down for a question and answer session with OSU associate professor of management Pauline Schilpzand and then took questions from the audience.

Schilpzand asked why those of us in Oregon haven’t seen many Panda Express television commercials.

Cherng explained Oregon is still an emerging market for Panda, and the company focuses larger ad buys in their core markets, such as California.

“We do do advertising in the core market because we can leverage the cost more effectively,” she said. “But in the emerging market the cost prohibits TV.”

Schilpzand also asked Cherng about what she’s used from her academic background in her career. Cherng earned a B.S. in applied mathematics from OSU and an M.S. in Computer Science and doctoral degree in electrical engineering from the University of Missouri.

Cherng mentioned that while she never learned much about food herself — husband Andrew Cherng started the original Panda Inn with his father and now serves as co-CEO with his wife — she has a passion for systems, honed by her training as an engineer.

“You first have to find out your passion,” she said. “If you have passion you’re really able to make a difference.”

She stressed that passion is a key for all entrepreneurs, no matter what industry one may be entering.

“If you just want to make money, if a hard time comes you’re not able to pull yourself up,” Cherng said. “But if you have passion you can overcome.”


Dave Dahl speaks at Oregon State family business class

Dave Dahl of Dave's Killer Bread speaks to an OSU family business class.
Dave Dahl of Dave's Killer Bread speaks to an OSU family business class.

Dave Dahl, the recognizable face of the Dave’s Killer Bread line of baked goods, made a surprise appearance at Oregon State Tuesday night as part of the College of Business Austin Family Business Program.

Sherri Noxel, AFBP director, had invited Eugene Wallace of Family Business Advisors to speak at her class that evening. Wallace, who has worked with the Dahls — Dave’s father started the company, brother Glenn and nephew Shobbi Dahl are part of the business with other family members  — mentioned someone from the company might be able to attend, but wouldn’t know for sure becuase of busy schedules.

But Tuesday night there was Dahl, with bags of Dave’s Killer Bread flying around the classroom as students asked questions.

“Eugene was invited to class, and we had used Dave’s Killer Bread the first class as an example of how to construct a genogram,” Noxell said. “They’re a contemporary business [students] can relate to.”

Dahl, who also presents as a motivational speaker and has been open sharing his story of spending 15 years in prison before rejoining the family baking business, said the experience was an opportunity to share with the students get something back himself.

Dave Dahl of Dave's Killer Bread speaks to an OSU family business class.
Dave Dahl of Dave's Killer Bread speaks to an OSU family business class.

“Mainly we talked about the family business, and I have a lot of experience with that,” Dahl said. “They were asking a lot of stuff about the family dynamics.

“The personal really takes a back seat with us,” Dahl said of his own family. “If we can stay in the same room and talk, that’s all I want.”

Dahl explained to students how he, his brother and nephew worked through early differences to build the company into what it is today, while Wallace provided lessons from working with the Dahls on how students could strengthen their own family businesses.