Dr. Corey Cole, Brandon Smith, Hannah Morgan, Dr. Debra Stone, Jennifer Ervin, Maijah Mathis, and Yacaranday De La Torre
Dr. Corey Cole, Brandon Smith, Hannah Morgan, Dr. Debra Stone, Jennifer Ervin, Maijah Mathis, and Yacaranday De La Torre

Five students from Eastern New Mexico University took third place at the New Mexico Business Ethics Case Competition, held at Hotel Chaco in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on Nov. 14.

Jennifer Ervin, Hannah Morgan, Brandon Smith, Maijah Mathis and Yacaranday "Jackie" DeLaTorre competed against five other New Mexico Schools and were given four hours to read through an ethics case and present to the judges.

Dr. Corey Cole, assistant professor of finance, and Dr. Debra Stone, assistant professor of accounting, helped the students prepare in the weeks leading up to the competition and cheered them on at the event.

The professors met with the students every Saturday for a month, working to develop a system for applying ethical principles to an ethical case study. Another goal of the meetings, according to Dr. Cole, was to "transition students through the four stages of becoming a cohesive team: forming, storming, norming and performing."

Dr. Cole shared that he is "extremely proud of the students for earning a third-place finish in the competition. They represented the College of Business and Eastern New Mexico University very well. Their performance at the competition is a direct reflection of their dedication, work ethic and perseverance. It was amazing to witness their progression from a group of students who were unfamiliar with each other to a cohesive unit over a short period of time!"

Dr. Stone said, "I am very proud of all of them. They only had a short time to prepare because we entered the competition just before the competition date. Many of the other schools had been preparing for six months. They rose to the occasion and gave an outstanding and thoughtful presentation."

She added that ENMU is already planning to attend the competition next year.

The students discussed their experience with the ENMU News:

How did you prepare for the New Mexico Business Ethics Case Competition?

Jennifer: We researched the meaning of different ethical principles, ones which were highlighted by the Daniel's Fund list of ethics. We engaged in group discussions about different ethical principles and situations. Each group member picked one or two principles they would focus on when studying the case presented. The team discussed the order in which the principles and slide would be presented in to ensure a smooth delivery and mitigate confusion during the presentation.

Yacaranday: We met every Saturday for a month and analyzed each Daniel's Fund ethics principle in detail and identified them in similar cases.

Brandon: We came together and practiced on weekends. Part of it was just getting to know one another and working as a team. We used some of the sample situations provided by the Daniel's Ethics Fund to practice.

Describe your experience participating in the competition.

Jennifer: The experience was challenging and fun. We expected a scenario similar to ethical dilemmas discussed in business courses. The scenario was more complex than our group anticipated. While being more challenging than anticipated, the scenario was not outside our grasp.

Yacaranday: It was very professional, and everyone was quite respectful of each other. There was some pressure since we only had four hours to analyze a lot of information. Overall, it was a really great experience!

Brandon: It was unlike anything we expected. About 20 minutes in, we all stopped and looked at one another with apprehension. Fearing that we had bitten off more than we could chew. We came together and were very vocal. As a team, we broke the scenario down one-by-one to create a picture. At the end, we all felt very proud of what we had accomplished.

Which lessons did you learn by participating in the competition? How will you take those lessons back to ENMU and use them in your career in the future?

Jennifer: The competition was a great experience to expose students to a professional environment and give practice in presenting information to a board of strangers. The team was composed of individuals who were unfamiliar with one another and required us to transition through the stages of becoming a cohesive unit: forming, storming, norming and performing. The case presented us with complex issues which represented pieces of a whole. We had to use creative thinking and investigative practices very similar to conducting an audit, to accomplish the mission. The scenario highlighted the importance of separation of duties within an organization and why using proper channels and creating processes which lead to accountability is important in an organization. The tasks and thought processes listed were all necessary as competitors in the Business Ethics Case Competition, but they are tools which will be useful in our future business careers.

Yacaranday: Time management skills, teamwork, critical thinking and having a positive attitude. These skills could be used in many ways in life in general, but time management and teamwork are really important in accounting.

Brandon: Being an ethics competition, it taught us about the importance of our decisions. We could see how perception can be very relative. You have to be aware of your actions in a business and how it can affect others' perception of you. I hope we can each bring something we learned from this competition and share it with someone else. There can never be enough ethical people in the world.

students with professors at ethics competition outside