The 2005 Burkenroad Symposium was canceled due to Hurricane Katrina and the 2006 event was postponed due to lingering logistical issues following the storm, so it only seemed right that this year’s symposium should reflect the impact of Katrina.
But Laura Cardinal, the new director of the Burkenroad Institute, wanted this year’s program to go beyond Katrina to examine some of the more universal issues the storm brought to light.
“There are defining moments in the lives of businesses and organizations,” Cardinal says. “It could be a merger and acquisition, it could be a chance to change your product line, or it could be a crisis like we saw with Katrina or with Enron. These are critical, make-or-break moments in leadership. What does that mean for decision making? What does that mean for ethics? What does that mean for the organization after the crisis or big decision?”
To answer some of those questions, Cardinal assembled four distinguished speakers from diverse fields to act as panelists for the 14th annual Burkenroad Symposium on Business and Society, “Critical Moments in Leadership: Changing the Rules of the Games.”
This year’s panelists were Holly J. Gregory, a partner with Weil, Gotshal & Manges, who provided a big-picture look at corporate governance, values and ethics; Bill Carey, the author of Leave No One Behind: Hurricane Katrina and the Rescue of Tulane Hospital, who discussed the dramatic evacuation of Tulane Hospital in the wake of Katrina; Frank B. Stewart Jr., chairman emeritus of Stewart Enterprises, one of the nation’s largest cemetery operators, who talked about his company’s response to Katrina; and Samuel Tinsing Mok, the former chief financial officer of the U.S. Department of Labor from January 2001 to May 2007, who discussed leadership in business from a government perspective.
This year’s Burkenroad Symposium took place on Friday, March 7, in the Lavin-Bernick Center on Tulane’s Uptown campus.