The inaugural UPMC/Wolverine Business Ethics Challenge provided Grove City College students with an invaluable opportunity to connect the work they’re doing in the classroom with the work they’ll be doing after graduation.
The Challenge brought 16 Business students to UPMC’s Pittsburgh headquarters for an afternoon of presentations and networking with professionals working across the health care provider’s operations. The collaboration between the College and UPMC is an outgrowth of a business ethics course taught by Dr. Wayne A. Biddle ’87, professor of Management.
All Grove City College business students are required to take a course in business ethics where they wrestle with tough questions and learn about the need to establish a framework for ethical decision making. As part of the writing-intensive course, students examine a current ethical dilemma that they may face in the professional world, Biddle said.
“Students then apply and test their ethical issue against their decision-making model which requires them to look at the issue from several perspectives, including an economic or financial standpoint, legal considerations, and an ethical-duty viewpoint, in order to arrive at their final decision,’ Biddle said.
Biddle teamed up with alumnus Jeff Bees ’92, CFO Commercial Lines and UPMC WorkPartners for UPMC Health Plan, to give that classroom exercise a second life with the UPMC/Wolverine Business Ethics Challenge.
Students who took the course in 2022 were eligible to submit their research papers for review by UPMC executives. Four finalists were selected to compete in the Challenge and all of the entrants were invited to participate in series of workshops and breakout sessions in which students were able to collaborate and network with key UPMC personnel.
Bees said his co-workers and colleagues were impressed with more than the quality of the students’ work. “The students did well. The number and depth of the questions showed engagement with the material -- and the caliber of the people at Grove City,” he said.
Senior Olivia VanGrouw, a Marketing major from Lancaster, Pa., won the challenge with her paper about planned obsolescence, in which she determined it is ethical to make lesser quality products that will wear out more quickly in order to maintain sales.
“The experience was definitely worthwhile,” VanGrouw said. “Having the opportunity to present to experienced high-ranking employees is an amazing way to strengthen your speaking skills, push yourself outside your comfort zone, and learn a lot,” she said.
Bees said the Challenge was time well spent for UPMC, which has interest in inspiring and developing young talent that will “accomplish goals of the business while caring for the people in the business.” And, he noted, the College is a “fantastic pipeline of talent” for the company.
The UPMC employees – who included some of Bees’ fellow alumni – provided students with useful advice for post-graduation success. “I think we succeed in helping people expand their minds a bit,” Bees said.
“It was very cool to meet so many skilled professionals. The lectures were very informative, and there were plenty of opportunities to ask questions and talk with very knowledgeable and friendly UPMC businesspeople,” VanGrouw said.
The UPMC/Wolverine Business Challenge is part of a series of events this spring marking this year’s launch of the College’s new School of Business. Other upcoming events include: the School of Business showcase on March 17; Richard G. Staley ’62 Visionary Entrepreneur Speaker Series on March 29; and the Wolverine Venture Battle on April 28.