Ronald A. Rasband learned a lot from Jon Huntsman Sr. He learned that marriage is a partnership. He learned how to treat people fairly. But most importantly, Rasband said Tuesday during a devotional at Brigham Young University, he learned about integrity.
“I learned Jon was a strong, powerful and fair businessman who lived by clear-cut rules,” said Rasband, recently called to be a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “He could compact two days of work into one. He expected me to work just as hard, get results and be moral, ethical and honest.”
Tuesday’s devotional marked the first speech Rasband has given at BYU since being appointed to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 2015. His devotional, titled “Integrity of Heart,” was centered on the life of Huntsman, a Utah businessman and philanthropist, who died in February at the age of 80.
Rasband’s devotional detailed Huntsman’s rise from poor beginnings and how Huntsman gave Rasband a job with his company before Rasband earned a degree. Rasband was later named the president of the Huntsman Chemical Corporation.
Rasband shared in his devotional a story of how he was the elders quorum president in his campus ward when Huntsman was the high council advisor. Huntsman gave Rasband a $1,000 check and told him to use it to help those in the quorum in need, but not say where it came from.
Rasband detailed other stories about Huntsman, including when Huntsman agreed to sell 40 percent of the company during a recession.
The economy turned around, the company’s value skyrocketed and Huntsman still agreed to the original price — despite only shaking hands on the deal.
Another time, Rasband said Huntsman lost millions when he sold a factory after refusing to give a kickback to a foreign government official.
“Many of you will be asked in the years ahead to bend the rules, to grease the wheels, to look the other way, to compromise,” Rasband said. “It may not be a million dollar deal, and some may assume that is the way things are done these days. But your integrity will be on the line and the price is never worth it.”
He encouraged students to defend their faith, have integrity and told them their morality, ethics and honesty are defined by how they treat others.
“I saw that in Jon Huntsman,” Rasband said. “He was as much a friend to a homeless man in a soup kitchen as to a dignitary at a state dinner.”
He also encouraged them to make decisions now on how they’ll live their careers.
“When you leave this sacred school setting, what will you be known for?” Rasband asked the students. “The time to decide your epitaph is not at the end of your career but at the beginning. Right now. Will you be moral, ethical and honest?”