Enron and Business Schools!

You ever wonder what happened to the folks that worked for Enron after it filed for bankruptcy in 2001? The famous ones, like Kenneth Lay, are obvious. Lay passed away in 2006. Jeffry Skilling is still in prison, although his 24-year sentence was overturned as excessive. Andrew Fastow is finishing his six-year term in home confinement and will be released December 17th of this year. What about the regular people? What happened to them? Today’s Columbian looked at several previous employees to see where there were after ten years.

George Maddox was retired when Enron fell. He owned 14,000 shares of Enron stock that one day was worth $1.3 million, and next worth pennies. He ended up moving out of his house, and going back to work. He is very bitter over the whole matter. Deborah DeFforge became a real estate agent. She has gotten over the Enron event, and enjoys her knew career. Lisa Feener now works as a freelance marketer. Some of these employees lament over the fact that Enron is remembered for the bad and not the good. They also are sad because society assumes every Enron employee was greedy, which wasn’t the case.

Reading this article made me think about each of the leaders guilty of destroying this company. Where did they go to school? What did they learn? Did Enron have an ethical reporting system? Did any of them go to grad school? Today grad students at major universities across the country are signing up for social-entrepreneurship classes. They also “intern at non-profits and participate in charitable extracurricular activities.” Did Jeffry Skilling learn about ethics in school? Did Andrew Fastow tell his mother about the off balance sheet process he was using for hiding costs?

The Enron fiasco reminds us how important it is to not only do things well, but do them right. We need to stay on the top of our game both procedurally and ethically. That is if we don’t want to abdicate our world leadership. Today in the Wall Street Journal there was a great article discussing China’s superior economic model. I don’t agree with calling China’s economic system superior to ours, but I do agree with what Andy Grove, previous CEO of Intel, said in July. “As Andy Grove so presciently articulated in the July 1, 2010, issue of Businessweek, the economies of China, Singapore, Germany, Brazil, and India have demonstrated that a plan for job creation must be the number-one objective of state economic policy; and that the government must play a strategic role in setting the priorities and arraying the forces of organizational necessary to achieve this goal.”

China’s twelve year economic plan describes a “7% annual growth rate, a $640 billion investment in renewable energy, construction of six million homes, and expanding next-generation IT, clean energy vehicles, biotechnology, high-end manufacturing, and environmental protection – all while promoting social equity and rural development.” It is nice when you have the money you need to develop and implement a plan. Our work is cut out for us. In my opinion it starts at our business schools. We need to challenge our students to think differently, and we need to give them the skills needed to change the world.

And that is my thought for the day!


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