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Naval Academy Ethics Team Wins Prestigious National Competition

Posted on: April 04, 2013 09:00 EDT by Jessica Clark

The Naval Academy Ethics Team recently received first place in the Berg Cup Competition, a nationally-known undergraduate business ethics competition held each spring at the University of Pittsburgh.

The competition draws some of the top business schools in the country, including the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, the Kenan-Fladger Business School at UNC, and the Olin School of Business.

The competition requires the competing teams to role play a scenario testing their understanding of business ethics. This year the teams played a strategic planning group for a bank reporting to the bank’s board of directors, played by the competition’s judges. The case involved decisions on adopting mobile banking, marketing pre-paid debit cards, cyber crime as well as dealing with the conflicting personalities of the board members.

The teams had five days to prepare for their presentation to the “board,” but were also tested by a last minute emergency situation in which they discovered some of the bank’s accounts had been hacked. This forced the team to make on-the-spot decisions on how to inform the public and how to recoup losses for the depositors and the bank.

“The role playing is quite intense in this portion of the competition,” said Dr. Shawn Baker, assistant director of the Naval Academy’s Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership. “The midshipmen’s coolness under pressure and grasp of the ethical implications were so keen that we had a judge go out of his way to send an e-mail praising them afterward.”

“We won the competition because when faced with pressure, we calmly responded to the inquiries of the judges and had a clear path laid out to deal with the problem at hand,” said Midshipman 1st Class Daniel Roberts.

While the competition focused on business ethics, Roberts said it required skills that are important in military decision making as well.

“Thinking out of the box and being straightforward, proactive thinkers propelled us to win in the finals,” said Roberts. “Being on the team has taught me how to critically evaluate ethical situations and how to make sound moral decisions even in the face of adversity. I have certainly grown as a person and hope to take these experiences into my career.”

As a senior, the Berg Cup was Roberts’ last competition with the Ethics Team, but he’s pleased to be leaving with a major win.

“I’m leaving the team in a better place than when I joined and set up for future success,” he said. “I was able to end my ethics team career with a win against the best competition in the country.”
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