This past week an analyst at the Institute for the Study of War, Elizabeth O’Bagy, was fired for lying about her education. Starting as an intern for the Institute, O’Bagy had been hired full-time as a research analyst. Then this past week, she admitted to having lied about her education. She had told her boss and coworkers that she had been working on (and finished in August), her dissertation at Georgetown University. However, she had only completed an undergraduate degree in Arab Studies at GU. How the information that her PhD could be false came out, is unknown. However, she has now been fired and her career is in jeopardy. Other organizations that she was involved in, in particular Syrian Emergency Task Force, have not yet realized any statement of whether or not she is still employed. During her time at the Institute for the Study of War, O’Bagy was cited by many top politicians and appeared on many national news stations such as CNN, Fox, BBC, and more.
Unfortunately, O’Bagy’s boss, the President of the Institute, Kagan, stated that she trusted all of O’Bagy’s work and that she would’ve hired her regardless of her having a PhD or not. So, whey then would O’Bagy have lied? Today, especially with access to all sorts of information, being truthful and transparent is key. Reputation is everything. Although, many people have come back from career downfalls it often is never returned to how successful they were, or could have been. Once trust has been broken between an organization, company, or an individual, it often is difficult to, or impossible to destroy. Communication and public relations for companies and individuals is often similar. Once the trust is broken, business or career can take a huge hit. It takes a lot of relationship building, or public relations, to gain the trust back.
In the end, was it worth it for O’Bagy to lie? Clearly not. But what was her motive? She must have seen something to gain. So, when you are thinking about lying on a resume, or plagiarizing a paper, think to yourself – how much do I have to lose…is it really worth it?