Integrity in Public Life | AccountingWEB

Integrity in Public Life

Last evening I had the privilege of listening to Derek Hathaway speak on the topic of Integrity in Public Life. Derek was at Messiah College as part of the Executive in Residence program and concluded the evening with an impactful presentation.

Many people know Derek as the former CEO of Harsco Corporation. Under his leadership, the market capitalization of Harsco grew from $250 million in 1994 to over $5 billion upon his retirement in 2008. At his retirement the company had over 22,000 employees and had locations in over 50 countries.
When you speak to anyone about Derek, they comment about his amazing character and giving attitude. In fact, this native of the United Kingdom was honored by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II with the Order of the British Empire. This honor of chivalry is given to people of great character and service. After getting to know Derek, you understand why he was given such an honor.
During the presentation Derek made several thought provoking points. First key point was “who is the public in public life?” He went on to explain how each of us is a person in public life and therefore we all should be people of integrity. It is true that leaders and those in the public eye (i.e. CEO’s, Politicians…) receive more scrutiny, but we all are visible to the public. Each of us has some one watching and it is important we live our public life and our private life with integrity.
Derek also focused on the question, “Who are you?”  Often we define ourselves by our title or day job (for instance, I am Scott Heintzelman, Partner at McKonly & Asbury). But that is not who we are but rather what we do. Who you are is all about your character and beliefs – what you see in the mirror. He stressed the importance for each of us to reclaim the ethical high ground in our lives.
He also shared this story of Integrity – Integrity is a goal to strive for that requires constant discipline and usage. The word comes from an ancient Roman Army tradition. During inspections, each soldier would strike his armor breastplate covering his heart with his right fist. While hitting his armor the soldier would shout "integritas," a Latin word meaning wholeness, completeness, and entirety. Upon hearing this declaration and the ring that well kept armor gave off, the inspector moved to the next man.
During this time, the Imperial Bodyguard was rising to power. These men came from the most "politically correct" soldiers of the Legions. They did not have to shout "integritas," instead they shouted "Hail Caesar," meaning they served a single man.
As time passed, the Imperial Bodyguard lost both their morals and integrity and the soldiers of the Roman Army started to emulate them. They became lazy and stopped wearing their heavy armor, causing them to not only lose their integrity, but to be defeated by their enemies. In only a few years, they lost territories they had held for centuries.
Derek concluded his presentation with this challenge: “Wear your armor of integrity. Take full measure of its weight and find comfort in its protection. Do not become lax. Always, remember that no one can take your integrity from you. Only you can give it away!”

This blog

by Scott Heintzelman - Scott is a CPA, CMA and CFE living in Pennsylvania. Scott is a partner serving on the executive team at McKonly & Asbury LLP, a regional accounting firm with multiple offices in the Mid-Atlantic. The firm has been an IPA ALL-STAR as well as winning Best Places to Work in Pennsylvania for numerous years.

More from this blog

Bloggers crew

Steve Knowles has spent 25 years in business and practice in the UK, but he also worked in the states and the years haven't dulled his way of seeing an alternative view to everyone else, and every day is a new adventure.


Joel M. Ungar, CPA is a lifelong resident of the Detroit area and a graduate of The University of Michigan. He is a principal with Silberstein Ungar, PLLC, a Top 15 auditor of SEC public reporting companies.


Allan Boress, CPA, with over 25 years as a practitioner and consultant to the accounting profession. Mr. Boress is the author of 12 published books in 6 different languages, including a best-seller, The "I-Hate-Selling" Book.


Larry Perry, CPA, CPA Firm Support Services, LLC, is the author of accounting and auditing manuals, author and presenter of live staff training seminars, and author of webcast and self-study CPE programs. He blogs about small audits, reviews, and compilations.

Sandra Wiley, COO and Shareholder, is ranked by Accounting Today as one of the 100 Most Influential People in Accounting as a result of her prominent role as an industry expert on HR and training as well as influence as a management and planning consultant. She is also a founding member of The CPA Consultant's Alliance. Sandra is a certified Kolbe™ trainer who advises firms on building balanced teams, managing employee conflict and hiring staff.

Maria Calabrese, CIR, Human Resources manager for Fazio, Mannuzza, Roche, Tankel, LaPilusa, LLC in Cranford, New Jersey, Maria's topics revolve around the world of: Mentoring, Performance management, and The "Y Generation," a.k.a. "The whY generation".


William Brighenti is a CPA, Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, and Certified [Business] Valuation Analyst, operating an accounting, tax, and QuickBooks consulting firm in Hartford, Connecticut, Accountants CPA Hartford.


Ken Garen, CPA, is the co-founder and President of Universal Business Computing Company (, a software development firm of high-volume, high-productivity accounting and payroll technology.


Eva Rosenberg, MBA, EA, is the publisher of, and author of the weekly syndicated Ask TaxMama column. She provides answers to tax questions from taxpayers and tax professionals worldwide.


Amy Vetter, CPA, CITP is the CPA Programs Leader for Intacct Corporation responsible for leading the CPA/BPO Partners nationally.

Brian Strahle is the owner of LEVERAGE SALT, LLC where he provides state and local tax technical services to accounting firms, law firms and tax research organizations across the United States. He also writes a weekly column in Tax Analysts State tax Notes entitled, "The SALT Effect." For more info, visit his website:
Scott H. Cytron, ABC, is president of Cytron and Company, known for helping companies and organizations improve their bottom line through a hybrid of strategic public relations, communications, marketing programs and top-notch client service. An accredited consultant, Scott works with companies, organizations and individuals in professional services (accounting, finance, medical, legal, engineering), high-tech and B2B/B2C product/service sales.

Rita Keller is a nationally known CPA firm management consultant, speaker, author, mentor and blogger. She has over 30 years hands-on experience in CPA firm management, marketing, technology and administrative operations.

Stacy Kildal is the mom of two fantastic kids, an Advanced Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, Certified Enterprise Solutions ProAdvisor, Sleeter Group Certified Consultant, a nationally recognized member of the Intuit Trainer and Writer Network, and co-host of RadioFree QuickBooks.
Michael Alter's blog specializes in providing practical advice to those who seek greater profitability and practice management tactics that enhance deeper client relationships.

Sally Glick, CMO, Principal, Marketer of the Year in 2003 and AAM Hall of Famer in 2007, leads a lively discussion of the constantly expanding roles of marketing and the professional marketers that drive this initiative in accounting firms of all sizes.


The IMA Young Professionals Blog features the insights of IMA’s Young Professionals Committee. Committee members share advice and experiences on careers, continuing education, work/life balance, and other issues affecting young accounting and finance professionals.


FEI Financial Reporting Blog provides highlights from SEC, PCAOB, FASB, IASB, and other regulatory news, including reporting under Sarbanes-Oxley Sect 404. It is written by Edith Orenstein, Director of Technical Policy Analysis at FEI.


Sue Anderson has 30 years of experience in continuing education for accountants. Currently she is the program director for online CPE provider CPE Link.


Jim Fahey is COO of Apple Growth Partners, a regional CPA firm in Ohio. His focus is on the effective and efficient use of technology within the firm by all team members.

Caleb Newquist is the Editor-in-Chief of Sift Media US, overseeing content for both AccountingWEB and Going Concern.

Leita Hart-Fanta, CPA, CGFM, and CGAP is the author of "The Yellow Book Interpreted" and owner of a website devoted to training for governmental auditors.


AccountingWEB is more than just a U.S. team of journalists and financial and technology experts - we have an international side, too! Members of our British team who publish share their ideas, insights, and perspectives from across the pond.