Kasthuri Henry walked away from a lucrative job as a Director of FP&A (Financial Planning & Analysis) for a global mortgage-banking firm (which shall remain nameless). She believed that some of the firm's practices were unethical. She tried to change them, but the firm resisted. So instead of compromising her values and strong sense of ethics, Kasthuri struck out on her own. She opened a financial consulting practice, attracting clients who share her belief that ethics and values can actually contribute to corporate prosperity rather than hinder it. She also began pursuing her PhD in Applied Management and Decision Sciences (now PhD in Management) at Walden University.
"The reason I chose Walden," Kasthuri says, "is that the university's social change mission aligns very much with my reason for seeking a PhD. My research area is looking at ethical leadership in finance, specifically, looking at how we got into the current mortgage and credit crisis, how a lack of ethics led to it, and how we make sure this doesn't happen again."
Kasthuri also believes that a Walden PhD will help her gain extra credibility. "As part of the work I do," she said, "I get invited to speak at a lot of events. And I feel I need to have a little more authority and so doing research, publishing, and speaking, all with a PhD behind me, lends more credibility to me and gives more credence to the cause that I care deeply about."
While bankers and other finance professionals are reviled by many today for their role in the global economic crisis, Kasthuri is quick to point out that it doesn't have to be this way. In her native Sri Lanka, bankers are very respected. "When a child is born," she says, "it's the priest and the banker who are there, because banks are so foundational to the progress of the society. Banks are not about making a profit. They're about helping the community grow. Making a profit is a side result of that."
While Kasthuri has witnessed the positive social benefits that responsible business practices can deliver, she has also seen the devastating effects of greed. "I grew up in the middle of a civil war," she recalls. "I knew what greed did to people. I saw what the desire for power did to people. I also saw how cruel human beings can be and I saw what successful people did to transcend all of that and make a difference. So I'm a product of a country that was embroiled in a 30-year civil war, and I see the world through the other end of the spectrum."
It's this spectrum that's driving Kasthuri to her ultimate ambition, teaching. "I can make a big difference in the classroom," she believes, based on her 9-year teaching experience. "And I can cross-pollinate from the consulting arena to the classroom and vice versa. They'll enrich each another because neither exists in a vacuum."
Making a difference is Kasthuri's personal definition of success. "Have I made a difference or have I just taken up space at the end of this journey?" she asks. "To me, success is not measured in terms of the titles I've had, the amount of money I've made, or the positions I've held. It's not about power. It's not about anything worldly."
It's about doing something good beyond the good you do for yourself and your family.
You can fulfill your definition of success. And you can start today at Walden University.
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