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Susilo Institute for Ethics in a Global Economy: New Voice in Global Ethics

Gift to SMG supports dialogue on East-West business, culture

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In an increasingly connected world, questions of global ethics demand attention.

The Harry Susilo Institute for Ethics in a Global Economy (IEGE) at the School of Management, established in 2014 through an endowment in perpetuity by Indonesian businessman Harry Susilo, will promote dialogue and debate through scholarly work in global ethics and by teaching cross-cultural business practices that focus on ethics in both Western and Eastern cultures. It is SMG’s first permanently endowed institute.

“We couldn’t be more pleased about this wonderful vote of confidence from Harry Susilo,” says President Robert A. Brown, who announced the gift at a dinner gathering at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 29. “What began as a conversation about shared values between SMG Dean Ken Freeman and Harry Susilo has blossomed into a powerful tool for understanding and promoting ethical behavior in business.”

The institute ultimately aims to be a positive influence on the global economy. “If we want a sustainable business environment, then we must establish a virtuous cycle in business ethics,” says Susilo.

Susilo was born in Jakarta, the son of Chinese parents. He is the founder and chairman of the Sekar Group, established in 1966 and based in Surabaya, Indonesia. Sekar comprises a number of companies involved with manufacturing in the fisheries and food sectors, aquaculture, agriculture, food distribution, trading, finance, and tourism. Its products include frozen marine products, crackers, seasonings, cashew nuts, and many others. Susilo is also chairman of All Bluesky Enterprise Pte Limited, a trading company based in Singapore.

A member of the SMG Dean’s Asia Advisory Board and the President’s International Advisory Board, Susilo is the father of BU graduates Finna Susilo (GSM’98) and Fanni Susilo (CAS’00).

Mr. Susilo’s gift comes more than 100 years after a man with a strikingly similar background helped found Boston University. Mr. Isaac Rich and Mr. Susilo both came from humble backgrounds, then worked in the fishing industry where they both achieved great success that enabled them to support a common goal – thriving, inclusive higher education that lasts the test of time.

“Through them, and through my contacts at SMG, I learned a great deal about the University and its values,” Susilo said in a written statement. “I learned about how one of its founders, Isaac Rich, was a lot like me: a poor fishmonger who was determined to make his way in the world, but also to act honorably and make the world a better place. Those goals still motivate BU, and they still motivate me. I am sure that as it draws upon the resources and traditions of BU, the Susilo Institute will contribute to increased global understanding and better business practice.”

“Harry is deeply interested in the cultural roots of ethical behavior, and how those roots influence business in the East and the West,” says Kenneth Freeman, Allen Questrom Professor and Dean of SMG. “He is also a generous person who is eager to support worthy causes in Indonesia, China, and now in the United States. He once commented to me, ‘What is taken from the community should be given back to the community.’ I think this new gift to SMG is in that spirit.”

With the goal of being a role model and a focal point for conversations around global ethics, the institute will develop teaching cases conveying lessons from both Western and Eastern ethical frameworks, according to SMG. Carrying out this mission calls for collaboration between SMG faculty and faculty from research centers at universities across Asia, which Susilo and his advisors will help facilitate. In addition to providing research funding, the Susilo endowment will support the IEGE director—a world-class scholar in business ethics, to be named when the institute is formally established—and an annual Harry Susilo Institute Symposium for the Study of Ethics. It is anticipated that this symposium will be held in Boston and Asia in alternating years.

“My earnest hope is that the University can promote the study of business ethics to serve as the compass for future commerce, to instill more caring in the world, and to allow everyone with a dream to be able to realize that dream and achieve their lifelong goals,” Susilo says.

“Harry Susilo is a longtime friend of BU. He, and his commitment and gracious support, will positively impact SMG and BU and inform the essential conversation on global ethics for decades to come,” says Freeman.

Candace Lehr can be reached at clehr@bu.edu.

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