In the spirit of embracing diversity and cultures from across the world, the Kelley School of Business recently announced its new member, Countess Alexandra of Frederiksborg in Denmark.
The countess, a member of several European philanthropic and corporate boards, took the position of the Poling Chair of Business and Government in the Kelley school, a position that requires facilitating discussion about leadership, business and government relations and ethics in the community.
"My life journey is somewhat unusual and filled with rich experiences, fascinating contrasts and deep transformations," Countess Alexandra said in a press release.
Countess Alexandra, born Alexandra Manley, married Prince Joachim of Denmark and became a princess, according to the press release. They are now divorced, and her noble title is countess. She has two sons, Princes Nikolai and Felix.
The Countess will be making periodic trips to both the Bloomington and IUPUI campus, the first from Oct. 23 to 27.
While the Poling Chair position is chosen based off of qualifications, the business school dean Idalene Kesner said Kelley strives to find those who go above and beyond.
“A key aspect of the final selection is someone who brings that new perspective and diversity of background,” she said. “We want to find someone who will bring a unique perspective to our students.”
Alexandra grew up in Hong Kong and then married into the Danish royal family in 1995. Alexandra is able to provide a global perspective to her discussions from firsthand experience, Kesner said.
Although her roots trace back to across the globe, Alexandra has had previous ties with IU faculty. Timothy L. Fort, business law and ethics professor in the Kelley School of Business since 2013, said he met Alexandra about eight years ago when he was teaching at George Washington University. In the past, Fort guided Alexandra through other positions.
“I taught her independent study versions of doctoral courses on ethics that I would normally teach,” he said. “We would discuss the lessons one-on-one, mostly through Skype, and she would write papers for me.”
As the two built a relationship, they began to compose several business articles together. This, Fort said, was what inspired them to compile their articles and ideas into a book.
Their book, called "The Sincerity Edge", is a compilation of interviews from 20 board members of major corporations, as well as additional research and analysis from Fort and Alexandra, about how to use ethics in the business world as more than just a means to an end.
“It’s fine to make the argument that good ethics is good business, but if you think that way, you lose some of the benefit,” Fort said. “There’s a bigger payoff when you’re not doing it for the biggest payoff.”
With her experience in the field of ethics as well as a multitude of philanthropic organizations, Countess Alexandra will be speaking to IU students on how to develop their ethical standards, which Kesner said is very important to the current college-age generation.
"These generations put more value on ethical practices and trustworthiness of corporations and businesses," Kesner said in the press release. "They don't want to buy from a company they perceive as unethical or untrustworthy, and they certainly don't want to work for them.”
In addition, Countess Alexandra will speak about leadership lessons she has learned in her life and will participate in panels, a discussion with Professor Fort and more.
Overall, the IU community is very excited to gain the Countess as a new member, Fort said.
“I think that students will find that she is very personable and engaging,” he said. “She really is a global personality and has an interesting perspective on the world.”
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