Mendoza School of Business

Student Perspective: Polina V. Kostylev, MSBA ’20

Polina Kostylev reflects how the Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business prepares its students for the real world ethical challenges they will encounter in positions of authority and influence during their careers.

“With great power comes great responsibility.” So goes Uncle Ben’s oft quoted line in Spider Man. It’s a line that many of us have heard at one time or another in our lives, but how many of us really stop to think about the ethical responsibility that comes with attaining positions of authority and influence? And how often do we recognize that this concept applies to each one of us and the policies, procedures, laws and people that we influence every day?

What impressed me most from the moment I stepped inside Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business was how clearly both the College and the MSBA program focus on the importance of ethical business leadership, and how often current, real-world ethics concepts are interwoven into lectures in every course that we are taught.

In our very first course in the program, Introduction to Business Analytics, Professor Kevin Hartman drew on the example of Cambridge Analytica and fake social media profiles that were used with great success by Russian military intelligence to spread fake news around the 2016 presidential elections.

In our course on Data Management with Professor Mike Chapple, we had a fascinating and frightening lesson on security and privacy concerns that apply to personal data, such as medical information, voting records and the in-app tracking we all allow our smart phones access to every day.

This lesson highlighted the importance of approaching data encryption, de-identification, and access, with care and thought; and demonstrated how hard it can be to get data privacy right in any organization. One very relevant example that Professor Chapple used was Uber’s “God View” software, which gave some Uber employees access to real-time locations of Uber passengers with virtually no oversight. This is an ethics breach that many of us who use Uber for rides can relate to, and the example brought ethics in business into a very stark and real light for us all.

The walls of the Mendoza College of Business display quotes such as, “Ask More of Business,” and, “Tomorrow’s leaders start here, where commerce and ethics work together to move the world forward.” When I first walked into the business school, I was struck by the College’s commitment to and focus on business ethics, and I continue to be impressed by the way the MSBA program and instructors weave ethics lessons into each course. They highlight the importance of ethics in business in a way that is real, human, and personal to each of us and our industries. It is a focus that is rare these days in the business world. To me, this is the Notre Dame difference that produces the types of strong, ethical business leaders of tomorrow that our world needs more of.