On Friday, Feb. 22, the Case Western Academic Integrity Board (CWRU AIB) hosted its concluding event of I-Week, a keynote address from guest speaker Mark Lekan of the Eaton Corporation.
Lekan serves as the Director of Ethics and Compliance, Americas, for the Eaton Corporation, a global power management company that helps its customers “effectively manage electrical, hydraulic and mechanical power more efficiently, safely and sustainably.” With a focus on protecting the environment through power management technology, the Eaton Corporation has 99,000 employees and customers in more than 175 countries.
Lekan oversees the development of strategy and the ethics and compliance program for the Americas. Before joining the Eaton Corporation, he worked as an attorney with Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan and Aronoff LLP. Lekan also clerked for a U.S. District Judge, leadership consulting, executive coaching and organization development.
Lekan described his unconventional pathway to his current role.
“I had a long and winding road in terms of careers,” he said after discussing his previous careers as a dining hall employee at Miami University, a human resources employee, a middle school English teacher and the proprietor of a small landscaping business.
In Lekan’s words, “those [careers] are all experiences that made me into the man I am today,” and he joked to the audience that he has “quit just as many careers as jobs.”
This year’s I-Week theme was “Integrity Beyond CWRU” and focused on how academic integrity displayed within CWRU can be valuable even after graduation. Lekan touched on the fact that decisions that violate one’s personal code of ethics are often made under stressful conditions. In the case of academic dishonesty, Lekan stressed that often students who act dishonestly do so because of the immense pressure placed upon them by the deadlines and demands of university life and eventually, workplace life as well.
Throughout the lecture, Lekan emphasized the importance of ethical leadership. He described companies that had struggled with ethical questions within their leadership, focusing on well-known examples like BMW officials who were dishonest about their emissions and Wells Fargo employees who created false accounts to inflate the company’s success numbers.
Lekan concluded by re-emphasizing the importance of integrity: “[Having a culture of integrity starts with having credible leadership that means what it says and acts consistently with his words. It’s a culture that enables people to speak up. [Cultures like this] are not just on a campus like this one. They’re everywhere. Find yours.”