Reuben Mark stresses the need for ethical corporate leaders

Against the backdrop of a global financial crisis, the keynote speaker at the inaugural symposium for the new Perlmutter Institute for Global Business Leadership at the Brandeis International Business School (IBS) stressed the need for companies to develop the next generation of responsible, ethical corporate leaders.

Reuben Mark, the longtime chair and former CEO of Colgate-Palmolive, shared his experiences with an overflow crowd at Silver Auditorium during a talk, “Leading in the New Global Economy.”

“Establishing a corporate culture is so vital,” Mark told attendees, including students, faculty, IBS supporters and area business leaders. “How people interact with each other and the world is the key to any successful company.”

He said Colgate-Palmolive commits substantial resources to identifying, training and nurturing its future global leaders. Among other skills, leaders are taught to act ethically, value all employees, and manage with respect.

“As you get more power, you should use it less,” Mark said. “Unfortunately, too frequently in business today people with all the power use it and don’t empower others.”

Following Mark’s keynote address, a panel of business leaders shared their perspectives on global business leadership. The panel included Lawrence Weinbach, a partner at Yankee Hill Capital Management and former chair, president, and CEO of Unisys; Kenneth Jacobs, deputy chair of Lazard Worldwide and CEO of Lazard North America; and Brandeis professor Catherine Mann. Betty Wong, global managing editor at Reuters, served as moderator.

The institute, made possible by a $5 million gift from Trustee Louis ’56 and Barbara Perlmutter, will prepare students for leadership positions in the global corporation of the future through a combination of theoretical/technical knowledge and pragmatic skills.

“Your timing is impeccable,” Brandeis President Jehuda Reinharz, PhD ’72 told the Perlmutters during his remarks. “I cannot recall a time when more daunting problems confronted our global business leaders. The Perlmutter Institute gives us hope that calmer, wiser heads may prevail.”

The Perlmutters have strong ties to Brandeis. Louis, a Boston native, is a 1956 graduate of Brandeis, a member of the Board of Trustees, and is the only alumnus to serve as board chair. Barbara Perlmutter is a member of the IBS board, a fellow of the university, and a founding member and past chair of the national board of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program.

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