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Ethics in Finance: Why Do People Cheat on their Taxes?

On Thursday, October 12, Honor Council had the privilege of listening to Professor C.J. Skender as a part of our theme of ethics in business and finance this month. Professor Skender has served as a training consultant on three continents for IBM, Nortel, Siemens, Starwood and Wells Fargo. He has developed and delivered various executive education seminars as well as CPA, CMA, and CIA review courses. For six years, he lectured simultaneously in the State, Carolina and Duke CPA preparatory classes. C.J. has received multiple teaching awards at the Fuqua School of Business, the Kenan-Flagler Business School, and North Carolina State University. C. J. has taught 300 sections of college courses and over 14,000 students during his academic career.

Professor Skender spoke about how honor and ethics played out in his life both personally and professionally. In everything he does, he asks himself if it would make his parents and his kids proud if they saw him doing that. He shared anecdotes of catching students in his classes cheating both in graduate and undergraduate courses as well as spoke about how cheating on a test now can translate to larger consequences in the future including going to prison for stealing money from a company or breaking up a family due to cheating on your spouse.

Professor Skender taught all three of his children at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School and said his daughter even got a B in his course. He said he knew he taught his kids well when his daughter responded with, “That’s what I deserved”. A student asked a question regarding his experience dealing with dishonesty in the auditing business and if he would ever compromise his ethics to keep the client from going to another auditing firm. Professor Skender said that the firms do worry about losing their clientele to customers, however, he strongly urges against cheating on tax forms and says he wouldn’t want to work with clients who requested that he do so anyway. Honor Council was grateful to have Professor Skender bring the perspective of an esteemed faculty member who sometimes has to go through the painful process of seeing his students expelled for cheating on exams. His core value of only doing things if his parents and children would be proud of him doing so has proven to be a success in his life. To learn more from Professor Skender, sign up for Econ 174!

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