By Ed Brennen
“This center, in and of itself, has no value,” Ciocchetti, an associate professor of business studies and legal ethics at the University of Denver, told the packed audience at University Crossing’s Moloney Hall. “The honor code at this school, in and of itself, has no value.”
Ciocchetti noted that every company that’s ever been caught up in a cheating scandal, from Volkswagen to Enron, had “beautifully written core values” that turned out to be meaningless.
“We have skipped a step as a society, and that’s this: Everyone in this room has to first believe that being a good person matters,” Ciocchetti said. “Once you believe that deep in your heart, I think teaching ethics works.”
That was just one of the motivational messages that Ciocchetti shared with students recently in a discussion called “Authentic Success, Living an Ethical Life.” Weaving humorous personal anecdotes with career and life advice, Ciocchetti had students laughing out loud – and reflecting inward.
“I loved it. He really made you think,” said Twisha Mohapatra
, a junior business administration major from Winchester who serves as social media director for two student organizations – Manning Women in Business and the Salesforce Leaders Group – and as a team leader for the River Hawk Scholars Academy.
Quoting Socrates’ words “Beware the barrenness of a busy life,” Ciocchetti implored students to “find two things you love at this school and then do them with all your heart.” In a society of box-checkers, he said it’s better to check “fewer but more meaningful boxes.”
“As college students, sometimes we just get through the day and don’t have time to reflect,” Mohapatra said. “I feel like a lot of people could relate to what he was saying. You can be super busy in school, but none of that really matters beyond doing what you love to do.”
Ciocchetti has written two books and delivered more than 1,000 talks on “authentic success” across the country over the past decade – including at UML’s 2016 Convocation
ceremony. As he did then, Ciocchetti urged students at Moloney Hall to take advantage of their time in college to find their calling in life.
“If you can find a place in your life where your passions and your talents collide, that’s where you’ll have the maximum impact on your community,” he said. “It’s the whole reason you’re at this university.”
Wouter Van Beek, a junior business administration major from Billerica and U.S. Army veteran, appreciated Ciocchetti’s words of wisdom, adding that ethics education is “probably one of the most important aspects of the business program.”
“I think almost every problem we are facing today has roots in unethical capitalism,” said Van Beek, a native of the Netherlands who moved to Billerica when he was 5. “We’re dealing with climate change right now, for instance, because somebody 50 years ago decided the bottom line was more important than our environment.”
After the talk and a Q&A session, Ciochetti joined Chancellor Jacquie Moloney
, Manning School Dean Sandra Richtermeyer
and a dozen business students from the River Hawk Scholars Academy for lunch and further discussion.
“I think Nancy Donahue, who gave this incredible gift of the center, would be so pleased to know that these students are here today to really take a moment to think about their own ethical compass,” said Asst. Prof. of Management Erica Steckler
, co-director of the Donahue Center.
During lunch, Victor Souza, a junior business administration major from Brazil, asked Moloney how she found her calling in life.
“I’m a very idealistic person – I have been since I was your age – and I’ve always pursued the places where I felt I could make a difference,” Moloney said. “I feel like I’ve done that. I’m humbled every day to come to a place like this with people like you.”
“This is a special place,” Ciocchetti added. “And it starts from the chancellor on down. I hope you understand how much they care about you and how important you are to them.”