By Liz Warren-Pederson
The Eller College hosted 32 universities from the U.S. and Canada last week for the 11th annual Collegiate Ethics Case Competition, coordinated by the Eller Board of Honor and Integrity.
The team from Simon Fraser University took top honors, with a cash prize of $1,000 for each of its two members, Qaid Jivan and Adrian Guemili, both seniors majoring in MIS and entrepreneurship and innovation.
This year’s case, authored by Paul Melendez (founder of the Center for Leadership Ethics), focused on employee-sponsored wellness programs. While employer-sponsored wellness programs can positively contribute to a firm’s bottom line and are legal, several ethical concerns have been raised in relation to employee autonomy, privacy, and justice. Participants will examined these and other issues as they explored and addressed the complex issues around the topic.
The students had just over two weeks to submit their analysis of the case before travelling to Tucson for a weekend of team-building activities, guest speakers, and the actual competition.
“As we’re Canadian, American health care issues are extremely different – so we spent the first couple days learning the basics,” Jivan said. “That was one of the most difficult hurdles we had to overcome, and that’s something I think every Canadian team had in common.”
The two were good friends heading into the competition, and spent hours working together in a team room, bounding ideas off each other and debating.
“Once we mapped out a solution, we fleshed out our plan by identifying stakeholders that could contribute to an effective wellness plan,” Guemili said. “Once identified, we figured out how to make it easier for them to contribute to the solution. For example, our primary stakeholder, the non-management employees, could help devise incentives that would be effective at motivating participation. So we incorporated an employee wellness committee so it would be easier for them to give their opinions.”
Queens University took second place, Boston College took third, and the University of Texas – Austin took fourth. Regional runners up included University of Texas – Dallas, University of Vermont, Brigham Young University, and the U.S. Naval Academy. The University of Idaho team brought home the Stephanie Chance “Bright Line” Essay Award.
“Overall, the experience at Eller was amazing – I can’t say enough good things about all of those involved in organizing the event,” Jivan said. “Every university had sent some of their top talent, and all of them deserved to be there, so it was a real honor just to be competing against people like that.”
“This was my first case competition and I wasn’t sure what to expect,” Guemili added. “What really impressed me was how kind and generous all the student volunteers were. In particular, I would like to thank the two students who were charged with monitoring us when we had to make our 10 minute presentation. They had the biggest smiles and were the best audience to practice in front of; it’s amazing how much a friendly face can help when you’re in a stressful situation.”
The Eller Collegiate Ethics Case Competition was sponsored by Walgreens, Bank of America, Ernst and Young, Northwestern Mutual, Hewlett Packard, Navex Global, Merchants Information Solutions, and Vanguard.
Top photo of Adrian Guemili and Qaid Jivan by Thomas Veneklasen.