Dr. Faith Ngunjiri sends her students into the professional world as ethical leaders by helping them develop their moral muscle and live up to their personal values. She is an associate professor of ethics and leadership in the Offutt School of Business and director of the Lorentzsen Center for Faith and Work.
Where are you from? Where did you study? What is your expertise?
I am an African in America, having come to the U.S. in 2003 from Kenya to study for my doctorate in leadership studies at Bowling Green State University, Ohio.
Can you tell us about the process coming to Concordia to teach?
When I read the job description for the position in the Offutt School of Business directing the Lorentzsen Center for Faith and Work, and teaching Ethics and Leadership, my husband and I talked about the fact that it was like someone had created a job just for me! It was like my previous experiences were all in preparation for this dual role, and I have found that to be true these past 4+ years.
What are your passions outside of work?
How do those passions translate to the classroom? I love gardening, traveling, reading, movies … but right now everything takes a back burner to work and family since my kids are so little. I do, however, get to bring my love of movies to the Ethics and Leadership class since the final project involves analyzing “Harry Potter” movies using the material we learn in our course.
What do you teach at Concordia and what are your classes focused on?
I teach Ethics and Leadership, a required course for all business majors at Concordia and an elective for other disciplines. The course is a combination of introductory material on personal and organizational leadership, as well as ethics. We learn how to articulate and live up to your personal values, as well as how to use various ethical decision-making strategies to arrive at the right thing to do. We focus on how to develop our moral muscle so that we can not only arrive at the right thing to do, but also be able to speak up and persuade others to also engage in doing well and doing right.
Can you tell us about the intersection of ethics, faith, and business and why that is relevant?
One only needs to spend some time watching the news to see how often all kinds of organizations and leaders are caught up in ethical misbehavior, whether large scale or small. Ethics is at the heart of effective leadership; leaders who fail to pay attention to ethics are likely to end up either failing themselves or creating an environment whereby their followers do not have a moral exemplar to follow. We also know from research and observation that for many people, their faith and/or spirituality is not only an important element of their self-identity, but also a critical source of their values and ethics. As such, it is imperative to make the connection between ethics and faith/spirituality to provide people with the tools and the inspiration to think critically about how to nurture ethical values and moral behavior in business.
How does Concordia allow you to be passionate about your work?
I have the freedom to structure my course the way I see fit, yet also have colleagues across campus who provide formative feedback to help me be the best professor that I can be. Concordia faculty and staff are very collegial, and the administrators are driven to support us to be excellent at what we do. The balance of freedom and accountability in a collegial environment encourages me to thrive.
What do you love about teaching at Concordia? What Concordia values do you appreciate?
I love the challenge of helping my students who often have little to no work experience learn how to be ethical leaders beginning with right where they are on campus. I love it when students realize that ethical issues are a normal part of living and working with others, and that they can influence others to act ethically with the Giving Voice to Values approach that we use in the course.
What do you see in your students?
I see future leaders of profitable and socially responsible businesses, future ethical political leaders, future leaders in every echelon of society who will carry the Cobber BREW banner high! I love the fact that Concordia students work hard at being great students and great human beings who are compassionate, kind, and have deep integrity.
How does your work best serve Concordia’s mission to Become Responsibly Engaged in the World?
Responsible engagement, by definition, needs to be ethical. We define ethical leaders in my class as people who are both morally upright themselves and moral influencers. Thus, I hope I am preparing Cobbers to BREW ethically wherever they end up, to do well and do good around the globe.
Tell us about your involvement with the Lorentzsen Luncheons. Why did you become involved?
Our goal through the Lorentzsen Center for Faith and Work Lorentzsen Center for Faith and Work is to convene conversations at the nexus of ethics, values, and the world of work, and to encourage individuals and organizations to cultivate values-based leadership. I can hope that those who do attend our luncheons come away inspired to articulate and engage their values, including those values that come from their faith traditions and spiritual heritage, in their daily work life.
What is significant about the Offutt School of Business? What sets it apart from other business schools?
The Offutt School’s focus on values, on building upon the foundation of liberal arts to prepare business professionals who are creative, innovative, entrepreneurial, and ethical makes it a wonderful place to work, learn, and educate future employees. I have heard it said many times by guest speakers in my classes, and leaders in various organizations, that Concordia graduates are a cut above the rest. So our formula of business education in a liberal arts context works to prepare wonderful, responsibly engaged business leaders!
What businesses do you admire?
Bell Bank for its Pay It Forward program that enables all of their employees to give money to the causes they are passionate about, Sundog for being innovative, Emerging Prairie for nurturing the entrepreneurial ecosystem of the region, Cardinal IG for giving opportunities to New Americans – there are many wonderful, ethical, do-good businesses in this community.
What do you love about the Fargo-Moorhead community? What areas of the community are you active in?
I enjoy the fact that everything is close by, including the airport. I am on the advisory boards for TEDxFargo and uCodeGirl. I also support nonprofits involved in reducing homelessness in the community.