Martin “Marty” Skrip has been an important figure in the worlds of finance and accounting for years as both a senior corporate tax partner and a Risk Management Partner-Tax for Northern California at KPMG LLC. Skrip worked for much of his career with publicly traded companies, evaluating their ethical reputations, along with that of his own firm. In his role in risk management, in particular, he oversaw the decision-making process when taking on new clients, much of which was based on their ethical behavior. Skrip notes, “The most successful firms are the ones with the highest ethical standards.”
Skrip’s involvement with the broader Santa Clara University community began with his presence on the board of directors of SCU’s Jesuit School of Theology (JST). As both a board member and board chair at JST, Skrip worked with administrators and faculty, which led him to the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. Skrip views JST and the Ethics Center as connected by a focus on contextualization and application. “[JST] contextualizes theology for the modern world, and the Markkula Center focuses on real-world ethics, not just academic discourse.” This emphasis on applied ethics, he says, sets the Ethics Center apart from other similar centers and institutions.
One of the highlights of the Ethics Center’s work, in Skrip’s eyes, is the work done with students at SCU, specifically the Hackworth Fellowship. Skrip says, the opportunity to work with ethical experts and leaders in an undergraduate setting is invaluable and will provide benefits to the students, the Ethics Center, and the university in the years that follow. If talking to a student in the Hackworth program, Skrip suggests, “if you [fellows and interns] were to look back ten years from now, one thing that will stand out is that experience at the Markkula Center.” Having exposure to various forms and fields of ethics (from bioethics and healthcare ethics to government and business ethics) is one of the major benefits of working with the Ethics Center, and one of the reasons Skrip encourages every student to seek out Ethics Center connections and opportunities.
When it comes to the connection between the Ethics Center and SCU, Skrip doubles down on the importance of that connection. Skrip believes “universities have an obligation to provide top-notch education as well as distinguished opportunities.” The presence of the Ethics Center at SCU allows students, faculty, and staff to benefit, especially when it comes to the inclusion of ethics into the overall SCU culture. Skrip puts it concisely: “the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics is a gem for SCU.”
Incorporating ethics into the culture of an organization is incredibly important to Skrip, regardless of if that community is a university or a corporation. Skrip points to the importance of long-term success for technology and businesses and says that good leaders will recognize that and strive toward more ethical practices that will continue to maintain their companies. “Short-term thinking is not the way to go,” says Skrip, emphasizing the foundational value that is ethics when it comes to a long-term approach to decision-making. Ethics is and will continue to be an important part of every good business, says Skrip, and the Ethics Center’s work is helping bring that focus to companies around the Bay Area and Silicon Valley with programs such as the Hackworth Fellowship and fee-for-service work. Professional and educational communities can benefit greatly from the Ethics Center’s presence, and it should not be taken for granted.