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How to Build a Professional Brand with Integrity

UL Online -- Mon, 02/17/2020 - 3:09pm

Making ethical business decisions is a habit — one Dr. Vanessa Hill says should begin long before professionals make it to the c-suite.

“Choosing to consider ethics is a habit you have to develop,” Dr. Hill says. “You might as well learn some techniques and begin to develop those habits now while the stakes are low so you’ll be more likely to practice them when the stakes are higher as a senior-level executive.”

Dr. Vanessa Hill is an associate professor in the UL Lafayette B.I. Moody III College of Business Administration.Dr. Hill is an associate professor in the B.I. Moody III College of Business Administration at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

Her course on ethical decision making, MGMT 401, is a core course in the online bachelor’s in business administration in management curriculum.

Dr. Hill brings a unique perspective to the program. The California native began her education in anthropology and sociology. She was then drawn specifically to the study of sociology in the workplace.

“We spend the majority of our lives at work,” she says. “I wanted to study business as a culture, and I thought it was an important issue.”

Dr. Hill’s research has included corporate social responsibility, ethics, leadership, and workplace values, all of which are incorporated in her online undergraduate business course.

Students are tasked with making complex decisions on behalf of hypothetical businesses while considering the wider community impact.

“Our assignments focus on using ethical principles and standards to develop a response to a problem; explaining their company’s decisions, and the rationale for their decisions, to the public; and then understanding how business decisions impact different groups in society — how they impact customers, employees, consumers, and the natural environment,” Dr. Hill says.

In this online course, Dr. Hill applies methods and tools to draw students into course content so they're involved and likely to interact. 

Among these tools is web conferencing. Dr. Hill gives online students the opportunity to broaden their perspectives by inviting experts for virtual ethics conversations.

In the Spring 2020 semester, students had the opportunity to chat about employee rights with a member of the National Labor Relations Board; branding and intellectual property with the CEO of a marketing firm; and emerging social issues in business with researchers. 

Dr. Hill leads the conversation, incorporating questions students may have submitted before the web conference. The full interview is recorded and posted in the online course for students to review or refer back to later.

Because the events are live, not all students are able to attend. Dr. Hill knows this. She says the conversations are just another way to give online students an interactive learning environment and gain valuable insights.

Dr. Hill also introduces students to an app developed by UL Lafayette professor emeritus Dr. Brooke Hamilton.

The app was designed to teach professionals ethical reasoning skills through a narrative format. Users follow characters as they apply ethics in different situations.

Dr. Hill says by using these various tools and applications to connect to real-world scenarios, students build an appreciation for how business’ actions impact society around them and the obligation businesses have to weigh more than profit.

“We have business leaders doing some ethically questionable things,” Dr. Hill says. “It’s vital students develop an appreciation and a habit of choosing or seeking the right thing to do in a situation instead of the most profitable or the most expedient.”

Ethics aren’t just a matter of good business or social practice, says Dr. Hill, they’re the foundation for a professional brand.

“If you invest in the course and you invest in the activities, I think you can gain valuable insight into developing your brand as a solid, respected professional with a reputation for integrity,” she says. “This is where you begin to build that brand by building effective habits.”


Develop the skills and habits to become an effective, respected business leader. Request more information today about UL Lafayette’s online Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in Management.