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By Brittany Smythe, BSBA Marketing ’11

As many students know, Paul Melendez is a strong advocate for promoting ethics within Eller.  This past week, Dr. Melendez offered three students; Anushka Chhiya, Gabrielle Geesey, and myself a chance to travel abroad to Canada and compete against 10 other distinguished business schools in an ethics case competition.  The competition was hosted by Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and consisted of three separate rounds where university students were tested in their understanding of ethics.

Before our arrival to Halifax, we were given an ethical dilemma that was associated with a mystery shopper program in a Canadian credit union.  We were asked to prepare a twenty minute presentation that identified the ethical problems and construct a creative alternative solution.  We were given the three weeks prior to the event to come up with our response.  Feeling confident in our presentation, the three of us wowed the judges and were able to advance to the second round.

The second round was a bit more intense as we were given a completely new case covering an advertising agency that was using humor to capture a certain audience, but at the same time was offending another group of people.  The challenges associated with this round were pinpointing the ethical, legal, and financial dimensions of the case without the use of any resources (i.e. internet, faculty members, etc.).  I never realized how fast four hours can go by when you are put under that kind of pressure. The time constraint definitely raised the level of tension in the room, but our team worked well together to collaborate and remain focused.

The final round took two teams from each pool who had demonstrated the best understanding and/or presentation of the case from the first two rounds to form the final four who would participate in the final round.  The University of Arizona was the only American team to advance into the final four, beating out Purdue University, Indiana, and the University of Florida.  The final round had the same guidelines as the second round, and at 8 a.m. we were given four hours to dissect the new case.  Our team consisted of only three, where every other team chose to bring four individuals.  We were also the only team comprised of all women.  We used our different strengths and major expertise to defend our final recommendation to a panel of distinguished judges.

We placed fourth overall and were proud of our achievements throughout the competition.  The event also served as a networking opportunity for students to get connected with others around the globe.  Dinners were provided each night and allowed us to meet and discuss business and ethics in a less formal setting.  The hosting University also toured us around the city and ensured that we were able to experience Canadian culture to its fullest.  The competition served as an opportunity to enhance public speaking skills, teamwork, and most importantly, strength our global ethical perspective.