Charlie Giesting: Interdisciplinary engineering with integrity

Charlie Giesting (BSE IDE, Engineering Management, 1979)
Charlie Giesting (BSE IDE, Engineering Management, 1979) is the founder of Integrity Leadership Partners and a senior consultant there.
Thirty-five years after leaving Purdue with a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary engineering, Charlie Giesting (Engineering Management, `79) is forging a new career path.

He and several colleagues recently launched Integrity Leadership Partners (ILP) in Plainfield, IN. The firm has a mission to promote ethical leadership at any organization, no matter its size.

“I realize small and medium sized companies’ budgets often do not cover a full time person devoted to Ethics and Compliance,” Giesting says, “but that’s where ILP can come in and collaborate with the top management or the Board of Directors to first understand the current situation and organizational culture before helping to install, refresh or support a program in this area.”

He formed ILP after spending years working in ethics and compliance for Rolls-Royce North America and, prior to that, the Allison Division of General Motors.

“I loved working in the Ethics and Compliance field and knew from my experience that there was a need to educate others on what is Ethical Leadership, what it means and how to put a formal program in place that helps all stakeholders of an organization.”

At Rolls-Royce, Giesting says he developed and oversaw code of ethics and business conduct policies, ethics and compliance training and communications, and auditing and monitoring of the ethics program. Through reports from the whistle-blower line and other calls received, he managed and helped to resolve more than 1,000 ethics investigations.

“As one company president shared with me after a single, very serious fraud issue was resolved,” Giesting recalls, “‘Having the Ethics and Compliance Program in place was worth every penny we ever spent on it and then several times over that!’”

Giesting transferred to Purdue from Indiana Institute of Technology in Fort Wayne, thinking he would enroll in agricultural engineering, because of his farm heritage. His advisor was in mechanical engineering and told him to wait a semester or two before committing to the agriculture program. Instead of taking that advice, Giesting realized he would rather have some real-world experience. Over the next 18 months, he held jobs as a material handler and a machine operator at a plastic extrusion factory, an associate manager at a fast food restaurant and as a draftsman and process-routing writer at a metal working plant. He says all those jobs taught him that he liked working with people and in particular, the manufacturing industry. Co-workers at his last job urged him to return to Purdue for his degree.

“I was so happy that the Interdisciplinary Engineering (Program) existed and had the Engineering Management major,” Giesting says. “It seemed to fit me perfectly. I was able to use my earlier core engineering courses while now loading up on Industrial Engineering and Krannert Management courses. I loved it!”

He credits his successful career, in part, to the Interdisciplinary Engineering Program that allowed him to individualize a learning plan that fit his needs – a characteristic of the program that still holds true for students today.

Purdue’s School of Engineering Education now offers bachelor’s degrees in Multidisciplinary Engineering (MDE) and Interdisciplinary Engineering Studies (IDES). The MDE degree program prepares students to practice as engineers, while the IDES program is for those who may or may not choose to enter professional practice.

Dr. Mary Pilotte, associate professor of engineering practice, is the new director of the School’s undergraduate degree program. She says Charlie Giesting’s career is a great example of what a student can do with a similar education in engineering.

“His success in the workplace is proof that the job market for great interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary engineering talent is insatiable,” she says. “Purdue’s IDES and MDE programs are and have been uniquely positioned to help students find a customizable pathway toward professional success for the long-term.”

 “My Purdue education has served me very well over the years,” Giesting says. “I believe the best is yet to come!”