Sunday September 21, 2008

Business as a Calling: Creating a Culture of Integrity

In the School of Business Administration's fifth Business as a Calling program Oct. 2-3, a graduate will share his take on ethics in consulting.

A UD alumnus and president of a New York City management consulting firm specializing in records and information management will be on campus Oct. 2-3 as a keynote speaker and guest lecturer at the School of Business Administration's fifth Business as a Calling Symposium: Creating a Culture of Integrity.

Alan Andolsen, who graduated in 1967 as part of UD's first class in the graduate-level program in religious studies, will focus on business ethics in his keynote address from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 2, in the Kennedy Union ballroom. The event is free and open to the public.

On Friday, Oct. 3, he'll be interviewed Inside the Actor's Studio-style with "Inside the Executive Suite," 11 a.m. to noon in the Kennedy Union Boll Theatre. He'll take questions from the audience after the interview. It's open to all faculty, staff and students.

Andolsen began to hone his expertise in records management as director of information systems for the Metropolitan Health Department of Nashville and Davidson County, Tenn. As part of his work there, he had to oversee an 18-month lead poisoning control program testing 20,000 children. He wanted a way to manage the data from that effort reliably and efficiently.

"The director of the computer center pointed at a shelf and said, 'See those manuals on the shelf? If you can read those, you can use the computer in the next room,'" Andolsen said. He read the manuals and began writing code for his first records management program. Soon after, he joined Naremco Services Inc. in New York City in 1976 and is now its president.

In a field that has moved from 3-by-5 cards and carbon paper to the data warehousing of trillions of documents and e-mails, Naremco advises companies on what to keep and how to manage it.

"Because of litigation today, one thing you don't want is a lot of irrelevant or obsolete information lying around," he said, recalling when one client needed to produce 3,000 messages but had to review more than 11 million to find them because there was no structure to its e-mail files. "It has to do with defining the short- and long-term value of records. Nothing is irrelevant, but you are not obligated to keep everything."

Ethics is a sensitive issue in the consulting field, Andolsen said.

"The consulting profession is often looked at as a den of thieves," he said. "You know, the guy who borrows your watch to tell you the time. ... I believe that consulting done right is a valuable contribution to the common good, but if you let yourself be swayed or tempted to give clients what they want even though it's not what they need, just so they'll call you back, you're not doing them or the profession any good. You have to be able to say no when that is required."

Andolsen has lectured on business ethics at UD as well as at Rutgers and Monmouth universities, and he's presented papers on business ethics topics in Poland, Slovenia, and Greece. He's chair of the code of ethics committee of the Association of Management Consulting Firms, an international organization representing more than 500,000 consultants. He also studied Renaissance humanism in the doctoral religious studies program at Vanderbilt University. Andolsen serves on the College's advisory council.

For information about Business as a Calling, call Sharon Person in the School of Business Administration at 937-229-3731 or send e-mail to Sharon Person.

Sharon Person via e-mail at