Alum, parent lecture at leadership summit


By Catherine Wang

The third annual Student Leadership Summit featured Dr. Howard Marks (Andrew ’05), founder and chairman of Oaktree Capital Management, Saturday March 13 from 1 to 3 p.m. in Chalmers East and West.

Students attending the summit included Prefect Council members, Community Council members, Student Athletic Advisory Committee members, Chronicle and Vox editors and various club leaders in grades nine through 12 grade.

Head of School Dr. Jeanne Huybrechts introduced the featured speaker. Se said she heard Marks speak at UCLA in an MBA class and wanted students to have the same experience.

Marks, spoke to students about his work and the role of ethics in successfully leading a business.

He stressed that in leading Oaktree, he hopes to make good investments, treat employers and clients well, and avoid hierarchical internal workings.

Marks attended graduate school at the University of Chicago, where he was taught that making a profit is the sole purpose of running a business, he said.

This notion brought a question to Marks’ mind.

“Every day at work, a potential conflict arises,” Marks said. “Do you care more about yourself or others?”

To roughly judge how ethical his business is, Marks uses the “New York Times test.”

He asks himself if he would be comfortable publishing details of his business management on the cover of the New York Times.

If he feels the need to hide something that his company is doing, it should not be doing it, he said.

After concluding his speech, Marks answered questions from students regarding ethics, business and investing.

In the next portion of the summit, students split into three breakout groups.

In one of the breakout groups, Director of Student Affairs Jordan Church spoke to students about “paradigm shifts.”

A Paradigm is what is expected of a particular situation or person. Leaders, Church emphasized, should learn to recognize negative paradigms and try to “shift away” from them.

In the second breakout group, Mark Mitchell ’95 talked about his time working at a record company.

During his time there, the music industry underwent a drastic change as online downloading quickly overtook CD sales.

Mitchell stressed the importance of leaders being flexible and able to embrace change.  

In the third breakout group, students discussed a situation brought up in the New York Times Magazine’s column “The Ethicist,” which was written by Randy Cohen.

A reader wrote Cohen about the private school her husband worked at, where two students who arrived at a school event with marijuana were asked to skip a day of school.

Rather than call this penalty a “suspension,” the school called it a “restriction” so as not to put it on the students’ school record. The reader asked Cohen if the school’s use decision was ethical.

Students gave their personal answers to this question before listening to the answer written in the column.

On the one hand, the administration wanted to protect the reputation of the students, but on the other, the school has an obligation to the universities to which the students applied.

Some student leaders pointed out that by calling the punishment a “restriction,” the administration wasn’t harsh enough on the students.

Cohen wrote that the school’s decision was unethical.

“I feel like I learned a lot from the Summit,” Community Council member Patrick Edwards ’11 said. “It was cool being around all of the other student leaders as well.”