When David Gautschi, dean of the Lally School of Management and Technology, asked me to help him run a leadership and ethics forum on campus at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, I readily agreed. Then he said there would be two other speakers: RPI President Shirley Ann Jackson and General Peter Pace, recently retired chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the top military person in the country. I knew President Jackson from our January/February 2007 Ethix Conversation, so I looked forward to her participation. But I knew next to nothing about General Pace except that he was one of the top U.S. military people who led us into Iraq, a war that seemed all wrong to me. Then Gautschi said he thought he could help me schedule a Conversation for Ethix with General Pace.
Because of my views on the war, I was not sure I wanted such a Conversation for Ethix. And because of his military role, I was not sure such a Conversation would fit with the discussion of ethical leadership in global business that we feature here. So I went to the event and Conversation with a question of whether the discussion would ever make it to print.
But General Pace surprised me. He was candid and willing to engage on almost any question. And his ideas seemed very appropriate for the pages of Ethix. After several years of visits to the Central African Republic, I have learned that carrying out business without security and the rule of law is almost impossible. In our increasingly global economy, we find more and more connectedness between business and government and between Iraq, China, Africa, and the United States. I believe you will find his ideas to be thoughtful and useful, and I look forward to your feedback. Gautschi joined me in the Conversation, which took place at RPI in Troy, New York, in April 2008.
At the opening of the RPI Leadership Forum, President Jackson, General Pace, and I each contributed some introductory comments before we engaged in a dialogue. We adapted General Pace’s opening remarks for the Essay (p. 19) in this issue. In addition, at his encouragement, we took a few of the questions I asked him at the forum and incorporated them and his responses into the Conversation.
This issue also includes a brief update from the Central African Republic, where I returned in June for the third consecutive summer.
Next Issue will feature a Conversation with Clive Mather. He was the CEO of Shell Canada until last year when Royal Dutch Shell purchased Shell Canada and made them a part of the larger company. Mather offers insight on the current issues in the oil industry, the environment, and energy security. The petroleum industry is very important in today’s global economy, and you will also be surprised at this particular leader’s perspective. This Conversation took place in Calgary, Alberta, at the former headquarters of Shell Canada.