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What is INCAE MBA Oath Club and how does it work?

14 of June 2022
INCAE Business School

In 2010, INCAE became the first MBA School in Latin America to create an Oath MBA. Its objective? Inculcate the value of ethics and make students and Incaists more aware that their actions are seen, promoting good practices. Indeed, they are the ones in charge of taking this valuable oath at each Graduation Ceremony.

“Ethics Is Awareness” (Ethics is conscience). This motto is how INCAE's MBA Oath Club is governed to share with students the value of ethics in the business world.

The organization was born in 2010, as a result of the economic decline that occurred two years ago in the world. In this regard, María Fe Gonzales Santisteban (Peru, 33 years old), president of the group that integrates master's students committed to the value of ethics, speaks: "With the financial crisis of 2008 there was a revolution in the United States that pointed to the leaders unethical as those who had promoted the economic collapse. So, Harvard and the World Economic Forum got together and created the OATH (solemn oath or promise) for administrators. Later the objective was adopted and it was brought to INCAE”.

The Club's training base is the article It's time to make management a true profession, published in October 2008 by the Harvard Business School Review and written by the tenth Dean of Harvard, Nitin Nohria. INCAE's OATH is based on the oath of this American university that commits its students not to put personal ambitions above the interests of its employees or society in general; that is, it is a personal ethical exercise for its members.

“Something we instill is the value of ethics: is it morally acceptable or not? It is about students knowing that their actions are seen and that they guide and promote these good practices and values. In a certain way, we as a club, try to influence and make our colleagues and the generations to come continue to cultivate and continue to become a driving force for everyone's work," says Víctor Muñoz (Peru, 33 years old), secretary of the OATH of INCAE.

The organization, says Sebastián Camacho (Ecuador, 31 years old), its vice president, “relates to INCAE students seeking to generate people who have more knowledge and perception about what they have to do or not do, helping people to reason. Seek that each of those who participate in the club's events leave with that spark of 'what they just showed me was good or bad' and thus generate knowledge, awareness (consciousness)”. 

Firm foundations for a straight path

INCAE became in 2010 the first MBA School in Latin America to form this student organization. Since then, more than 150 students have been part of the organization at the Walter Kissling Gam Campus.

The OATH Club is developed from four axes. 1) The staff, based on dilemmas, ethical challenges, personal decisions and life experiences that refer to ethics; 2) organizational, thinking about how to make organizations work ethically, to develop a strong culture of this value; 3) society, focused on fighting corruption, the main obstacle to the social and economic development of Latin American countries, and 4) networking, focused on multiplying power, which means more power to make more changes. 

The student leaders are renewed each year, although their functions extend for another 12 months. In the first stage, the students work actively within the club, while the rest of their stay is focused on guiding the council that remains in office. 

“The year after they leave the council, the former officers stay on as advisers to the new members. In addition there are the LifetimeMembers, people who want to stay in the club and continue participating in this network”, says Camacho. 

“If you want to continue supporting the club, you are welcome”, adds María Fe. “As Lifetime MemberYou take an oath to follow ethical standards in everything you do. And you sign a commitment to be an ethical person for life.”

One of the challenges that the members of the INCAE OATH Club faced during the pandemic was to maintain the bond of the alumni members so that they could continue to be active from a distance. “We lost a lot of communication with them, but now we are taking them up again and bringing them back to INCAE so they can tell us how the club has served them in their lives, how it is that what they learned here went hand in hand with what they are experiencing now” . 

Active master's students who attend INCAE's OATH Club talks or presentations can learn to apply the knowledge in their day-to-day life from the experiences that Lifetime Members share through anecdotes or advice. “In our presentations we put real life cases and make them think about what they are going to do when faced with a particular situation. It is not about giving them the solution, but that they think about it”, explains the president of the club. 

The student council has focused on creating spaces for people from outside the club, "including teachers, former students and former members, to come and give their opinion on what life is like outside the classroom, how ethics is lived in the world of business, especially in a Latin American environment, which has extremely high rates of corruption. It is to give the students a little taste of what things are like outside”, explains its vice president. 

As a personal experience, Lester López (Guatemala, 30 years old), community manager of INCAE's OATH, says that the club has allowed him to observe the business world from different eyes. “As members of the club, here we seek to reinforce your values, because in the end you are like the lamp that guides the rest of your teammates. That is what the group has given me the most on a personal level, being aware of my actions and how they impress others”. 

To be part of the OATH Club, it is only necessary to be a full-time INCAE MBA student and sign the Basic Statement of Belief, which has the three ideological pillars of the Club. Membership ends on the day students graduate. However, it has already been said, it is possible to continue being part of the group as Lifetime Memberr. 

More information about MBA Oath Club: