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Thunderbird faculty examine role, benefits of compassion in financial industry in new book

Book launch event held in Thunderbird headquarters at Downtown Phoenix campus


A group of people pose for a photo underneath a sign reading "Integrating Compassion into the Financial Services Industry Book Launch"

Co-authors and editors of "Integrating Compassion into the Financial Services Industry" attend the book launch event on Feb. 22 at Thunderbird Global Headquarters. Courtesy photo

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February 28, 2024

Companies thrive when they have both a productive business philosophy and a motivated workforce whose voices are heard. However, achieving those goals isn’t always easy amid the pressures and myriad demands of a typical work environment.

An inspiring new book, with a novel approach, documents the importance and value of compassion in a business setting for both corporate culture and client relations to achieve optimal organizational purpose. 

"Integrating Compassion into the Financial Services Industry: A Guide and Personal Reflections from Leaders in Finance" brings together testimony from leaders at global banks and investment firms with insights from scholars in academia whose studies include the components of compassion.

Launched at Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University’s Global Headquarters on Feb. 22, the book is intended as a practical guide for its readers to build a better, more compassionate and peaceful world. 

"As we navigate the complexities of business and organizational culture, the integration of compassion has transformative power in fostering collaboration, overcoming challenges, and driving inclusive and sustainable prosperity worldwide," said Sanjeev Khagram, director general and dean at Thunderbird.

"Co-authored and led by one of our distinguished faculty members, Mary Sully de Luque, and alumna Sogol Homayoun ... the book aligns with Thunderbird’s core values of acting with honesty and integrity, and respecting the rights and dignity of all people. We were proud to host this exciting launch event as the publication now serves as a handbook for fostering an environment that not only prioritizes compassion and ethical decision-making, but also the well-being of individuals and the greater global community."

Specific examples from financial services practitioners demonstrate how compassion helps overcome obstacles, supports sound decision-making and fosters innovation. Throughout the book, contributors explore the tension between compassion and profitability and how compassion contributes to good governance in pursuit of both operational excellence and revenue generation. The authors also discuss the role of compassion in effective leadership and how it can help individuals learn from failure.

Co-authored by Mary Sully de Luque, professor of global management, leadership and sustainability, and a senior Global Futures scientist at Thunderbird, the book merges evidence-informed findings with corresponding personal vignettes. Written by financial service professionals, these vignettes illustrate for readers the blending of compassion into everyday life.

“Our book provides a compelling study on the benefits of compassion for overcoming obstacles, learning from failure and supporting good governance. Focused on the finance sector, we further share research on how espousing compassion in the workplace helps grasp the nuances of decision-making as well as build a culture of innovation,” she explained. “A compassionate culture guides responsible interactions, which, in turn, encourages transparency, openness, inclusivity and positive risk-taking.”

Authors and editors also included Margaret Worrall, Thunderbird alumnus; Sogol Homayoun, Thunderbird alumnus and ASU Online enrollment manager; Annemieke van der Werff, former chief human resources officer at Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Americas and current U.S. director at Triple Value Leadership; Tsewang Namgyal, Thunderbird alumnus and director at Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group; Nathan Romano, president of Atalaya Capital Management; Liz Grant, assistant principal and director of the Global Health Academy and co-director of the University of Edinburgh’s Global Compassion Initiative; James Fisher, chief executive officer, MUFG Investor Services; Kurt Schreder, managing director and head of structured finance credit at MUFG Americas; Sebastian Zugman, Bank of Americas; and Johs Worsoe, Apollo Asset Management. Publication was supported by the key partnership of the global law firm White & Case LLP. 

The book concludes with straightforward, practical exercises designed to help readers learn the techniques of incorporating compassion into both work and personal lives. 

“Integrating compassion into business improves listening and collaboration across teams,” said Barbara Barrett, former secretary of the U.S. Air Force and former president of Thunderbird. “The result is a stronger, more focused and more inclusive approach to business that benefits everyone involved. This book offers a clear, comprehensive guide on how to take your company to that next level.”

The e-book is available to download at no cost here.

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