rajat gupta vs. haruka nishimatsu

another day, another white collar criminal charge.

so there’s been much criticism the past few years on the role of greed and lack of ethics in business in causing the financial crisis.  and today, yet another distinguished harvard business school alumnus has cast scrutiny on the mba world.  rajat gupta, one of hbs’ most distinguished alumni and a major adviser to 5 top business schools, was charged with insider trading by the securities & exchange commission.  the former director of goldman sachs and procter & gamble is accused of leaking information to a friend who illegally gained $18 million.

gupta has an impressive resume and is considered to be one of the most successful indian-born businessmen of his generation.  at only the age of 45, he became the first non-westerner to hold a top leadership position at consulting powerhouse mckinsey & co.–managing director.  not only has he been instrumental in the founding of the indian school of business, he has served on advisory boards for harvard, northwestern’s kellogg school of management, mit’s sloan school, and university of pennsylvania wharton’s lauder institute of management & international studies.

this news comes less than a month after another hbs alum, samir barai, was charged with insider trading.

but there are also business leaders who have ethics and morality.  there’s haruka nishimatsu, ceo of japan airlines.  when jal hit hard times in 2009 and laid off its staff and was forced to cut pay, he also cut his own.  not only did he eliminate his perks, but the ceo of the 10th largest airline in the world isn’t making millions.  in fact, as low as $90,000–less than some of his pilots.

“if management is distant, up in the clouds, people just wait for orders,” nishimatsu told cbs news through a translator. “I want my people to think for themselves.”  nishimatsu says a ceo doesn’t motivate by how many millions he makes, but by convincing employees you’re all together in the same boat.

some other examples of good management executed by nishimatsu:

  • knocked down his office walls so anyone can walk in
  • buys his suits from a discount store (because a boss who wears an armani suit puts himself at arms’ length from his people)
  • dines in the company cafeteria for lunch
  • takes the city bus to work

jal filed for bankruptcy january 2009.


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