Manning School Trio Participates Virtually in Ethics Case Competition

a screenshot of the students competing on Zoom
Manning School of Business students, clockwise from center, Thomas Stranberg, Prabakar Adithya and Yuvraj Aurora make their presentation to judges on Zoom during the Providence College School of Business Michael Smith Regional Ethics Case Competition.

By Ed Brennen

When it comes to slowing the spread of COVID-19, public health officials consider contact tracing to be crucial.

But what are the ethical implications of tracing cases? Do governments, health care workers or technology companies have a right to know with whom you’ve recently had contact? And should they be allowed to alert those contacts of your positive diagnosis?

That’s the question that a team of Manning School of Business students addressed recently in the Providence College School of Business Michael Smith Regional Ethics Case Competition.

Senior Thomas Stranberg and juniors Prabakar Adithya and Yuvraj Aurora represented the Manning School in the competition, which was held virtually on Zoom this year because of the pandemic.

“Being a virtual case, I thought the presentation may be tough,” says Aurora, an Honors College business administration major from North Andover, Massachusetts. “But other than my dog barking a few times while presenting, it went really smoothly.”

Sponsored by the Donahue Center for Business Ethics and Social Responsibility, the UML team had two weeks to prepare its case study, collaborating remotely at night through group texts and chats. 

“Everybody really came together in such a short span of time and helped to bring the presentation to another level,” says Adithya, a Chelmsford, Massachusetts, native whose concentrations are in accounting and finance.

The students, who argued that the public health and economic benefits of contact tracing outweigh privacy concerns, received feedback on their PowerPoint presentation from the Donahue Center’s co-directors — Visiting Instructor Elissa Magnant and Asst. Prof. Erica Steckler — and Louise Durand, a visiting faculty lecturer in management.

“These three students are very motivated and wanted this experience on their résumés,” says Magnant, who was allowed in the Zoom room during the competition. “They were just outstanding. I was so proud of them. They were right on point, well-spoken and did an excellent job.”
“(We) became familiar with each of our strengths, so we feel much more confident heading into the next competition.” -Team member Thomas Stranberg

University of Toronto, Mississauga topped the eight-team field, which also included Boston College and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

While the UML team didn’t place in the top four to advance to the final round, the students agree that the experience will help prepare them for the annual International Business Ethics and Sustainability Case Competition (IBESCC), which will be held virtually in April.

“We built trust in our team members and became familiar with each of our strengths, so we feel much more confident heading into the next competition,” says Stranberg, a business administration major from Sudbury, Massachusetts, with a concentration in finance and a minor in economics.

Stranberg, who is currently working as a corporate communications co-op at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, approached Magnant last winter — before the pandemic — about putting together a team for this year’s case competitions. The Donahue Center has sent student teams to the past two IBESCC competitions, including last year in California.

Although the students would have preferred to present to the panel of industry and academic judges in person, they say learning how to prepare and present a case study in a virtual environment can help them in their future careers.

“It will be interesting to see how businesses manage meetings going forward, post-COVID,” Adithya says. “I believe it is best if businesses have a mix, with face-to-face meetings occurring only in necessary circumstances.”