Ethics and Technology: A Leadership Dilemma

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By Hannellie Mendoza
Insight Direct USA, Inc

Class 30 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s Core Program. The views expressed here represent those of class members and not those of Scottsdale Leadership.

Technology Day would not be complete without a discussion of the current landscape and emerging trends.   Mobile apps, drones, wearables, self-driving cars, cloud, cyber security and IoT (Internet of Things) top the list of the latest and greatest in the tech world today.   All of these are fueled by information, OUR IMG_7726information, to enable these tech devices to be as useful as we expect them to be.   Technology has always consumed information or data for the longest time, but today’s demand for real time information to deliver more personalized functionalities require massive amounts of data to be processed.  Hence, the birth of the term “big data”.  Data streams at unprecedented speed from both structured and unstructured sources, from humans and machines at different times of the hour, day, week or month depending on what’s trending in different parts of the country and the world.   Our lives today are so intertwined with technology that it is unthinkable for anyone to be without their cell phones  for even five minutes!

TechAs people revel  in what these cool technologies can do,  businesses grapple with staying abreast of new technological developments to be competitive.  However, to succeed in this environment, not only do businesses  have to be competitive, they also have to constantly innovate, be a step ahead, even disrupt what is tried and true in favor of new models that reflect changing consumer behavior.  Behavior that, in the first place, was influenced by these rapidly changing technologies.  Are we then in a virtuous circle or a vicious circle?  We’re in both.  All these great tech developments come with both good and bad consequences, and, uncontrolled, will send humanity hurtling towards its own Digital Darwinism.

This is where ethics in technology leadership comes in.  We all know that whoever has information has  power.  Big Data presents both opportunities for improving our way of life and temptations to use this information for personal or business gain.  The Leadership dilemma  lies in three areas:

  • Use of information : Should there be boundaries around the use of big data and what will ensure a fair distribution of risks and benefits?
  • Social responsibility: The United Nations’ Nov 2015 survey shows that 54% of global households do not have internet access. Will we exacerbate the digital divide with decisions for consumer products, health products, etc.  determined based on those who have internet access or own digital devices?  Will it foster discrimination based on a company knowing too much personal information about us?
  • The end game: Convenience vs. the loss of privacy and security?  What are the trade-offs?

As we encourage our young people to embark on careers in technology, let us not forget to equip them with the moral fiber to make the right decisions and the hard decisions on how to use technology.  As Intelligent Devices start proliferating and gathering information all around us, it is imperative that we encourage technology leaders and us, Scottsdale Leadership Class 30, as leaders in our respective fields, to create and uphold ethical business practices to harmonize market trust and business success.



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Save some for me!

Hafer_Kevin (2)By Kevin Hafer
Henkel Consumer Goods, Inc.

Class 30 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s Core Program. The views expressed here represent those of class members and not those of Scottsdale Leadership.

What do you think of when you hear the word “sustainability”?  Do you think of melting ice caps, super storms, or other effects of climate change?  How about political fights on Capitol Hill about pipelines, drilling, and carbon taxes?  Or maybe you think of hippies drinking vegan smoothies in a straw bale house with a composting toilet?  The truth is all of these are just tiny parts of the overall conversation on the broader topic of sustainability.

IMG_7587While there are countless definitions of the meaning of sustainability, the most widely accepted one is from the Brundtland Commission, which defined it as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”  For our sustainability day, Day Chairs Thomas Williams, Jeffery Maas, and Charlie Popeck were able to develop a highly informative and engaging program that demonstrated exceptional real-life examples of organizations and businesses in Scottsdale that are thriving by embracing sustainability as a core value.

Throughout the day, we heard from representatives of international architectural firms, transportation companies, Scottsdale’s water and waste departments, sustainability consultants, SRP, CAP and solar distributors.  Each presenter had excellent examples of how their businesses and the community are seeing tangible economic, social, and environmental impacts by focusing on sustainability.

One statistic on the benefits of sustainability really brought it home for me:  Every year, the state of Georgia estimates that it spends $100 million to dispose of $300 million worth of recyclable materials.  That means if they could get their residents to participate in recycling their waste, there would be a net windfall of $200 million to the state!  This is an excellent example of what is possible by embracing sustainability – there is not only the potential for a huge economic impact, but also an environmental one.

Sustainability is not only focused on conservation of resources and environmental impacts, but it is equally focused on economic and social impacts as well.  This is called the Triple-Bottom Line, and for the companies and communities that have been most successful at developing sustainability initiatives, all three of these areas have to be addressed.

IMG_7632While the entire day was captivating, the highlight was the tour to Singh Farms.  It was a real treat to be able to walk through the gardens and to talk with Ken Singh for a couple of hours.  I was blown away to find out that when he started the farm in 2003, there wasn’t a single tree and the entire plot was caliche.  With the help of his sons and his skills at nurturing the land, he was able to turn that desolate plot into some of the most verdant gardens in the valley.  Today, his farm serves as a shining example of sustainability in action – by embracing natural processes and avoiding chemical fertilizers and pesticides, he is able to produce extremely high quality, nutritious food without degrading the land.

While the title of this class was sustainability, in truth, everything we’ve experienced so far in our short time in Scottsdale Leadership has been about sustainability.  The theme of each class has been about sustaining Scottsdale as an excellent community and place to live.  As we continue on this journey in Scottsdale Leadership, we are all searching for ways to become better leaders in life and in the community, with the ultimate goal of making a difference and leaving as much as possible for the next generation, which is truly sustainability in action.

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Stewardship: Sharing Our Talents for the Common Good

Mendoza_Hannellie NEWBy Hannellie Mendoza
Insight Direct USA, Inc

Class 30 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s Core Program. The views expressed here represent those of class members and not those of Scottsdale Leadership.

For someone who is not a native of Scottsdale, our Community Stewardship & History Day proved to be particularly fascinating, especially since history was not my favorite subject. Joan Fudala’s passionate account of Scottsdale’s history left me in awe and inspired by the dedication, vision and commitment of the men and women who turned a small agricultural town into the booming and bustling “metropolis” that we live in today.

Stewardship is defined as an ethic that embodies the responsible planning and management of resources. Throughout its history, Scottsdale has been fortunate to have had leaders that have been good stewards of their own resources as well as the resources they saw around them and selfless in their pursuit of community development and progress. What was notable was how these leaders built upon each opportunity to lay the foundation for Scottsdale’s eminence in the arts, tourism and environmental preservation.

IMG_7445What better way to tell the story of our western spirit and heritage than in the dramatic works of art featured in Scottsdale’s Museum of the West. Located in the center of the famed Scottsdale Arts District, it gives credence to Scottsdale’s slogan “The West’s Most Western Town”.  Not to be outdone is the Cattle Track Art Compound, tucked away in the residential area of McDonald Drive where we saw artists at work on fabulous pieces.  Janie Ellis, General Manager, took us back to the 1930’s not only with a moving account of her family’s history but also with a tour of her charming abode filled with old, western items that she has managed to turn into beautiful collectibles. With so much talent in our midst, no wonder Scottsdale has become one of the country’s centers for the arts, attracting thousands of visitors every year.

IMG_7463The class also toured three other tourist attractions and historic landmarks: the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park and the Scottsdale Stadium. These places are all remarkably managed and operated by countless volunteers who are passionate about their mission of preserving these historical treasures for us and future generations.

Passion and dedication once again took center stage as the volunteers of STARS (Scottsdale Training and Rehabilitation Services) introduced us to the various programs that provide special needs individuals with opportunities to enjoy activities and develop skills they need to live normal, happy and productive lives.

What stood out for all the volunteers that spoke to us on this day was that they are all extremely talented individuals who strongly manifest four common qualities: a sense of ownership, a sense of responsibility, a sense of accountability and a sense pride in sharing their talents for the common good.  This is what makes for true stewardship.

“In this period of crisis today, it is important not to turn in on ourselves, burying our own talent, our spiritual, intellectual, and material riches, everything that the Lord has given us; but, rather to open ourselves, to be supportive, to be attentive to others. Set your stakes on great ideals, the ideals that enlarge the heart, the ideals of service that make your talents fruitful. Life is not given to us to be jealously guarded for ourselves, but is given to us so that we may give it in turn.”  (Pope Francis, April 24, 2013)

Which of your talents can you share for the greater good?

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Our call is to have the courage to do what is necessary

Baker_Brant CropBy Brant Baker

Class 30 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s Core Program. The views expressed here represent those of class members and not those of Scottsdale Leadership.

To talk of education is to talk of tensions and competing demands.  Educational philosophies, political agendas, and funding challenges, mixed with student development, teacher standards, and standardized tests.  Sprinkle in economic development and labor force development, add a dash of visionary notions about the enterprise of education, and it’s no wonder so many people are overwhelmed by the conversation!


Panel discussion on Arizona’s educational competitiveness (left to right): Moderator Jeff Winkler, Dr. Eric Meyer, Dr. Jan Gehler, Don Budinger, Sen. David Bradley, Lisa Graham Keegan, and Dr. David Garcia.

Our Youth & Education Day Chairs did a great job of presenting these various issues in education, and framing a large and complex topic.  Presentations on school choice, school funding, and Arizona competitiveness were interwoven with a number of interactive and intriguing class exercises, including one that had us wrestle as school board members with real-world issues.  The speakers and presenters were excellent, and as seems to be the norm for Scottsdale Leadership, I left intellectually and emotionally exhausted!

There is no question that society has come to place a lot of expectation on school outcomes.   Schools are often expected to be on the front lines of treatment for psychological disorders, drug and alcohol education, and a host of other important developmental milestones.  This despite the fact that only 12% of a child’s time is actually spent in the classroom (one of the most surprising and impactful statistics of the day).

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Amazing snacks provided by our host Rancho Solano Preparatory School helped us handle the full and demanding day!

Of course, funding is a mitigating factor in meeting the freighted educational agenda.  While many of the day’s speakers suggested that educational excellence can be found in any school, and at any level of financial support, it seems clear that sufficient and equitable funding is needed.  The formula for school funding in Arizona was developed over 30 years ago.  It is worth noting that enrollment in Arizona schools keeps growing, and so funding plans are almost never up to date with current realities.  It is also worth noting that Arizona schools have the lowest administrative cost in all fifty states.  Ultimately, investing in education really comes down to “pay now or pay later.”  According to Dr. David Peterson, the Arizona corrections budget is up 10% since 1981, while the state education budget is down by 13%.  We need to do better.

This sentiment was echoed in the closing remarks made by Scottsdale Leadership co-founder Gary Shapiro.  “As leaders,” he said, “our call is not to find what is equal, equitable, or adequate.  Rather, our call is to have the courage to do what is necessary.  

At the very least, that will mean setting aside some agendas in favor of a larger vision of collaboration between parents, districts, boards, businesses, and political leaders.  More proactively, the solution is for all of us to be involved in some way.  We can make the necessary investments (of both time and money), and reap all of the benefits of a well- educated citizenry, or we can pay later in the form of unemployment, drug use, and crowded prisons.  Again, only 12% of a young person’s time is spent in schools.  It is the work of the whole community to create social stability through impactful relationships and helping with extra-curricular activities (music, the arts, sports, service clubs, faith communities, and so forth).

How could you get involved?

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A Social Service Seed Has Been Planted in Each of Us

Chavez_Claudia CropBy Claudia Chavez

Class 30 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s Core Program. The views expressed here represent those of class members and not those of Scottsdale Leadership.

“I am doing this because it’s personal” –Ted Taylor, Executive Director, Family Promise of Greater Phoenix

IMG_7349On September 25, 2015, Class XXX witnessed the collective efforts of Scottsdale Social Service Superheroes in action.  Their goal: create more effective organizations, build stronger communities, and promote equity and opportunity.  Day Chairs Justin Boyd and Lisa Randall kicked off our first topic day with an introduction to our host site – the Paiute Neighborhood Center (PNC).  PNC is a  unique community  resource in that serves as a hub to numerous collaborating agencies including a charter school (Hirsch Academy), Boys & Girls Club branch, a bike apprenticeship program (Handlebar Helpers) and a family center (Scottsdale Prevention Institute), just to name a few.

IMG_7314Throughout the day, although the details shared by each storyteller varied, a recurring theme surfaced – these are individuals invested in what they do because it resonates on a personal note.  Danny Gallegos, Recreation Coordinator, originally focused on the management of Scottsdale parks.  One day, he was asked to help with the operations of the Vista Del Camino food bank, but was unsure if he was the right man for the job.  Today, he lends a helping hand to hundreds of individuals and families in need – individuals that could be your neighbor or co-worker.  Ted Taylor, Executive Director of Family Promise of Greater Phoenix, is a former business owner, consultant and social entrepreneur.  Driven by personal values of inspiration, simplicity and purpose, today he helps find shelter for over 100 families a year, including their pets! Commander Aaron Minor, Kelly Wills (Crisis Intervention Specialist), and Police Detective Robert McCabe shared their struggles and successes in keeping Scottsdale citizens safe from criminal activity while simultaneously serving as pillars of support for them during times of crisis and death, through the efforts of the Family Advocacy Center.

The stories heard on this day are too many to share in a single blog entry – the impact that they will have on the individuals lucky enough to hear them is yet to be determined.  Hopefully, a social service seed has been planted in each of us.  How personally that seed resonates may help determine the beauty of its bloom.

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Look out – Class 29 is Leaving a Legacy!


By Audrey Menard
Rancho Solano Preparatory School

Class 29 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s Core Program. The views expressed here represent those of class members and not those of Scottsdale Leadership.

Our last day of class began with all of us feeling a tug in our heart.  Class 29 has really grown together over the last nine months.  It was a bitter-sweet day for us all.

We began by reviewing the Positive Leadership curriculum.  Through a leadership journey that takes us through the components of authenticity, purpose, advocacy, resilience, community building, reason and gratitude, we are equipped with the qualities needed to make a difference in our Scottsdale community.  For further development, the book, Thanks:  How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier by Robert Emmons, was highly recommended.

From there we closed our eyes and reflected on the past nine months.  We thought about our Leadership Compass point, our purpose statements, the core curriculum, and the great impact that Scottsdale Leadership had on our lives.  We journaled and we shared.  The room was full of gratitude.  There was clearly a commitment to continue our shared passion for our community and find the best way for each of us to plug into Scottsdale. Kim Hanna, Class 27, shared numerous opportunities to connect just within Scottsdale Leadership.  What mattered most to us all?  What mattered for us was finding some place where we can serve and commit.

IMG_1589We interacted with a wonderful panel that shared best practices regarding participating on a non-profit board. That was very eye-opening, even for those of us that have served on boards. Eileen Rogers, Class 2, suggested subscribing to BoardSource which is full of professional materials for board edification and best practices.  She shared the four basic duties of obedience:  the duty of care; the duty of financial oversight; the duty of loyalty; and the duty of transparency.  After Class 29 had the opportunity to ask questions, the discussion topics became very broad.  We could have spent the whole day on board engagement alone.

IMG_6995Our attention, then, turned to the riveting story of JP Holyoak, Class 18, and his rise to having a medical marijuana empire here in the Valley.  Marijuana has made a significant difference in his daughter’s health and wellbeing.  However, his message was really about the fact that being a leader can be difficult.  When you are blazing a new path, you can get all kids of attacks and people attempting to thwart your every effort.  Leaders keep going.

After a lot of inspiration and development of our own personal commitment and intention, it was time for the infamous talking stick circle.  As the tissue box followed the talking stick around the circle, we shared tremendous memories, heartfelt thanks, admiration, commitment to remaining connected, and appreciation for Emily, Margaret, and Scottsdale Leadership.  This program as left an indelible stamp on all of our hearts and we are all better people because of this leadership program.  Look out! We will live up to our class name:  Class 29 – Leaving a Legacy!IMG_6980





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Informed and Involved

Mamerow_Adam CropBy Adam Mamerow
Wells Fargo

Class 29 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s Core Program. The views expressed here represent those of class members and not those of Scottsdale Leadership.

Did you know that the Miranda Rights case was decided right here is Arizona?  It’s true, and you can even see the actual judicial bench where the case was heard when you visit the Arizona Capitol MuseumIMG_6705In addition to the history and architecture of the museum and the Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza, Class 29’s State Government Day was a great opportunity to get the basics (and some real specific details) regarding the three branches of the Arizona government.

Our State Government Day was filled with interesting people and facts.  As a brief overview: Mike Braun explained the process of a bill becoming a law.  On average approx. 1,700 bills are drafted each session and this is whittled down to approx. 300 actual laws.  Richard Stavneak provided an overview of the recently passed State budget.  Chris Herstam threw open the curtain on the politics with topics ranging from independents’ lack of voice in government to dark money influencing elections / policy.  IMG_6610My personal favorite part of the day was Marshall Trimble, Arizona’s official State Historian.  I am impressed with all of the facts, stories, and anecdotes regarding Arizona’s history.  (If I may recommend, as Arizonans we should all know the story of how Phoenix became the capital of AZ – the legend of “Kissing Jenny” and the glass eye was very interesting.)   Representative Eric Meyer told the class how he became involved in local politics specifically regarding education issues and that evolved into his eventual election.  IMG_6698Class 29 even had the opportunity to meet two Arizona Supreme Court Justices.

From my point of view, the major topic for the day was to get informed and get involved.  Mr. Herstam shared his thoughts about the four typical kinds of legislators: 1) those in the job because they care and want to solve problems; 2) those who are ideologically driven – supported heavily by their respective base; 3) the political animals or political ‘climbers;’ and 4) those who cannot get a job elsewhere.  Do you know who currently represents you at the city or state level?  Do you know which category of legislator they fit in?  The fact of the matter is that your representatives are making decisions that affect all of us on a daily basis – are you satisfied with these decisions and corresponding outcomes?  If not, your best course of action is to become informed, speak to your representatives, work on campaigns that align with your way of thinking, and if that does not work – Run for Office!


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