Reflections on Ethical Leadership
These alumni are just a few of the many MFS graduates recognized as leaders in their specialties. We asked them to share their personal leadership styles, as well as their thoughts on how to remain ethical in positions of power. Whether they are standing up for civil rights or breaking the glass ceiling, alumni bring the lessons they learned at MFS with them into the workplace.
Chiyo Moriuchi ’73
• B.A. Mount Holyoke College
• M.B.A. Columbia University
• M.P.H. Candidate, Columbia University
• Board Member, Medford Leas and Thomas Scattergood Behavioral Health Foundation
You spent many years in real estate investment. How did you decide to go into that field, and how did it meld with your worldview?
When I was first coming out of school – it was at the end of all the social movements of the 1970s – I wanted to make a difference in the world. My dad said, “Everyone has different skills and abilities,” and he took an economics perspective on it; he explained my career choices in terms of the concept of comparative advantage – if everyone does what they are best at, the whole community is better off.
Now, my dad was a businessperson. But even though he wasn’t working directly in peace and social justice, he was able – because he was good at business – to contribute his time and money to organizations and causes he believed in. He told me, “You don’t have to be employed directly in good works. You can do other things and be instrumental in supporting those good works.” So even though I went first into banking and later into real estate investment management, I felt good about being involved in the financial industry. Hard-working people were going to be relying on the investments my firm made for their retirement. Think of pension funds: they are for people like public school teachers and firemen and police officers. A lot of people think of big investors as being bad, but those pools of money are often for the benefit of ordinary folks. Making sure that those funds have strong returns is a social good.
How would you describe your leadership style throughout your career?
The highlight of my real estate career was working in Asia for nine years with LaSalle Investment Management. That was where I gained the most leadership experience, because I was building a team and running a chunk of an organization. It was much like clerking a Quaker committee, where you’re trying to bring out the best in everyone at the table, but sometimes the path isn’t obvious. People often don’t know what they’re good at, and they often can’t articulate to you what they’re concerned about or what’s getting in their way. I think you need to see the Light in each person and look for what’s special about them.
In my leadership roles, I’ve found that there are a lot good people who are put in the wrong places and asked to do things that don’t fit them well. And I’ve found that if you can shift them around, or shift what you’re asking them to do, they’ll flourish. You need to have respect for the individual.
What do you view as the role of Quakerism in business?
When I was growing up, it seemed like the Quaker community was a cross section of all sorts of folks, including large and small business owners. Now the Quaker community is largely made up of people in education and social work – the caring and nurturing sectors of society – and not so many people are involved in business. That’s a real problem, because Quakerism has created all of these great organizations and institutions (like Moorestown Friends and the Scattergood Foundation and Medford Leas and AFSC), and all of these great organizations need monetary support, financial management, and business skills. They need people with experience in the wider world to keep them healthy. I’m all for Friends School graduates going into business and becoming really good, ethical leaders. I recently helped organize a gathering of Quakers in Business in association with Friends General Conference, for exactly that reason.
Do you believe Quaker values are relevant to the business world?
Yes. Last year, I clerked the search committee for the new General Secretary (executive director) of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. It was quite wonderful, and it made me think that Quaker process is very applicable to many business situations. A lot of the business management literature talks about “Level 5 Leadership” and similar catchphrases, and in actuality it’s exactly what a good committee clerk does. The Quaker business process is powerful that way. It has to do with respecting each other, facilitating deep listening, and focusing on the common purpose.
What is your current focus?
I’m currently pursuing my master’s degree in public health at Columbia University. Public health covers everything from biostats and epidemiology to social science, policy, and management related to population health. Specifically, I am studying aging, and trying to understand the science as well as the policy issues. People of all ages need more support than they are getting – young families, single moms, the elderly – so the question is, is it possible to come up with supportive solutions that are not age segregated?
I’m hoping to take my real estate and business background and combine it with a more in-depth understanding of these policy and management issues related to taking care of people. Most of the initiatives to date rely on donations and volunteers, I think we’ll need a business solution to create a financially sustainable and scalable solution.
What prompted your shift toward public health?
I’m on the board of Medford Leas, a senior living and continuing care community, as well as the Thomas Scattergood Behavioral Health Foundation. As part of my involvement with Medford Leas, I became very interested in the growing population of older people, who need support and care but don’t want to be segregated from the rest of society. As we were looking at our strategic planning process at Medford Leas, we considered how baby boomers (and most people in the United States) have not saved anywhere near enough for their retirement and how family and community structures no longer provide the connections and support they once did. So that’s what I wanted to study in a more rigorous setting: “How can we deal with this problem, and how can we build communities that provide connection and support for all ages?”
Did any faculty members at Moorestown Friends have an impact on your career path?
The Upper School faculty members who stand out in my memory are Cully Miller, Stu Wood, and Dick Tyre. Of course, I loved Miss Engel (who taught me to read), Mrs. Stiles (who had the Dutch feather bed and our own little town) and Mrs. Caughey (who read us The Iliad) in elementary school. They were all so dedicated to the development of each student. I still remember not so much the actual words of conversations that I had with them, but just the feeling of how well they knew me. Dick Tyre had a way of looking at you and making you feel like he was looking right into your soul. Cully and Stu were involved in issues of peace and social justice, and while we might not have been directly doing things with them on those points, knowing that they were very personally committed and involved made a difference.
Do you feel the school helps create leaders?
The respect and attention you receive at Moorestown Friends helps develop people who understand their own worth and their own abilities. By the time I was a senior, I was comfortable in the school and starting to feel comfortable in my own skin. I remember having this thought: “I’m really comfortable here. Everyone has great confidence in me. So if I can just carry that feeling with me to other places that I go, then I can do as well there as I’ve done here.” I felt like, “This is my turf. And I just need to make myself feel that wherever I am, that’s my turf too.”