Pictured: Professor of Economics Dr. Michael McGuire and Winner Erin Estrada

On May 1, sophomore international business major Erin Estrada was recognized by the H-E-B School of Business & Administration (HEBSBA) at the University of the Incarnate Word (UIW) for excellence in ethical leadership for her paper on the “Vocation of the Business Leader.”

Estrada’s reflection was selected by a panel of faculty members and peers for her integration of the Vocation’s principles into her education. “Throughout my high school years we were taught we needed a good education so that one day we could find a job that would pay well,” wrote Estrada. “When I came to UIW, it was a totally different approach. Here, we are taught we should engage in serving others. I want to be able to spread this message to deepen our faith at work and in our daily lives.”

The Vocation of the Business Leader by the Pontifical Council on Justice and Peace asks businessmen and women to consider the role faith plays in work. The Vocation points to the idea of the ‘divided-life:’ the chasm that can exist between one’s faith and business practices. Advancements in technology and the condensing of the world through globalization have produced exciting opportunities, but also created many new challenges for the modern business leader.

Enron, Worldcom, Bernie Madoff, and the Great Recession have emphasized the need for discourse on the ethical teachings our future managers, vice presidents, and CEOs receive. Leaders must often make difficult decisions and personal values play a pivotal role in their judgments. The Vocation calls upon those leaders to bridge the gap between smart business decisions and moral, honorable choices.

The Vocation advocates for a business leader to not only focus on the financial health of their company, but also on the well being of their community. This stood out to Estrada as she emphasized her volunteer work as a starting point for her greater goals as a future business leader: “I enjoyed volunteering with Elf Louise and Haven for Hope; it felt good to be able to help others and brighten someone’s day just by doing simple tasks,” said Estrada.

The tenets of faith and service drive the Mission of UIW. The ethical principles students learn in the classroom can transform the business world of tomorrow. Catholic Social Teaching stands upon the traditions of human dignity and the common good. Students should discuss the ethical challenges they will face in the evolving business world and how they can work together to make a positive impact upon it. Through study of the Vocation of the Business Leader, students learn that a self-fulfilling vacuum should not exist where globalization, technology, and financialization binds the global community.

Through her dedication to service, Estrada has answered the call of the Vocation of the Business Leader. “Erin has taken the Mission of UIW out of the air and given it body and legs,” said UIW Vice President of Mission and Ministry Sister Walter Maher, CCVI. By contemplating moral business choices, ethical considerations, and a sense of the common good, Estrada better understands how she will serve her community after graduation: “I feel that by giving back to the community and working as a leader who serves God will definitely be far better than just working for profit.”

Read more on the Vocation of the Business Leader.