Marty Adams Presents Heffern Lecture at Mount Union College

April 13, 2010

'Doing what is right is good business,' Marty Adams, president and chief operating officer of Huntington Bank said while presenting the Gordon Heffern Lecture Tuesday, November 27 at Mount Union College.


Adams, who manages the 23rd largest bank in America, titled his lecture 'Can a company grow rapidly and maintain a strong culture of ethics?' Adams spoke on the importance of using ethics in decision-making and how ethics cannot be ignored.

'Ethics must be a part of your culture,' Adams said. 'Business leaders therefore have a hefty responsibility.'

Adams said he encounters conflicts of interest every single day. He said many business decisions fall into 'gray areas.' This makes deciphering between what is ethical and what is not much more difficult.

One such example he cited was when the board of directors of which Adams was a part became too big as a result of acquisition growth and he recognized the need to reduce the board size in order to be more effective. To decrease the board size, a peer evaluation process of board members was used which included geographic location, expertise and a diverse background. Using these criteria, the board was reduced from 28 to 16 members.

'It was really hard to do and it was a tough decision,' Adams said. 'Several people were upset, but we did the right thing.'

Adam said sometimes in order to be ethical as well as legal, he is forced to make tough decisions. He said, however, his decisions must also fit within Huntington's core values and culture.

Adams then shared the ethic decision-making model he uses to help make important decisions. First, he recognizes the ethical dilemma, then he analyzes and lists the ethical options and lastly he prioritizes and implements decisions.

In his concluding remarks, Adams said respect, integrity, communication and service excellence are essential in making ethical decisions, but he emphasized respect.

'My parents taught me respect and it is the foundation for everything about good ethics,' Adams said.

Mount Union College President, Dr. Richard Giese, said Adam's speech taught a valuable lesson.

'We can't be successful without doing things right,' Giese said.

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