When Creighton University business students got the assignment to organize a business symposium, they chose the theme “Driven by integrity, achieving with excellence.”
As students growing up in an economic downturn and amid criticism of some businesses’ ethical practices that may have led to it, the theme was natural, said planning team member Erin Taylor, a senior accounting and finance major at Creighton.
“That’s kind of defined our age group,” Taylor said.
Closing keynote speaker Pete Leddy, senior vice president of global human resources at Life Technologies and a Creighton graduate, focused Friday on Creighton’s Jesuit values and on students making the choice to uphold their values in their future business careers.
He said that organizational culture has gone wrong.
“You have to find something bigger than yourself to attach yourself to,” Leddy said. “Otherwise, I don’t know what guides your decision-making.”
The symposium featured panels and workshops on business ethics, women in the workplace, global supply chain, marketing pitches and other topics, connecting about 550 Creighton students and business professionals.
The event, first held in 2004, is now the largest student-run symposium in the nation, organizers said.
The turnout of business professionals and students at the CenturyLink Center Omaha was about even, with 250 business professionals and 300 Creighton students this year, said Amy Lien, one of two coordinators on the planning team, along with Chris Franz, a senior financial analysis and German studies major.
Along with an adviser, 14 Creighton undergraduate business students spent about 11 months brainstorming relevant workshop topics, contacting business professionals to lead them and hammering out the rest of the details.
“It’s been very stressful,” said Lien, a senior financial analysis and Spanish major.
Lien served on last year’s planning team and said that altogether, she and the rest of the team put in about 100 hours organizing the symposium.
But the result is worth it, she said.
The symposium targets Creighton business students, but the whole student body is encouraged to come, Lien said.
The panels, such as those on health care and women in the workplace, are topical for more than just business students, organizers and attendees said.
That’s also true for the symposium’s overall message.
“Creighton has put a renewed emphasis on integrity,” Taylor said.