Enron whistleblower

Sherron Watkins, the woman who blew the whistle on Enron, will speak at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 9 in the Memorial Ballroom, Hall Campus Center.

Watkins, who was named Time magazine’s Person of the Year in 2002 along with two other female whistleblowers, is author of Power Failure: The Inside Story of the Collapse of Enron (written with Mimi Swartz). Watkins will discuss “The Lessons of Enron: The Importance of Ethical Leadership.”

Watkins is the former vice president of Enron Corporation who alerted then-CEO Ken Lay in August 2001 about accounting irregularities within the company, warning him that Enron “might implode in a wave of accounting scandals.” She later testified before Congressional Committees from the House and Senate investigating Enron’s demise.

Before its bankruptcy in late 2001, Enron was one of the world’s leading electricity, natural gas, pulp and paper, and communications companies. At the end of 2001 it was revealed that its reported financial condition was sustained substantially by systematic accounting fraud. The scandal also brought into question the accounting practices of many U.S. corporations and was a factor in the creation of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002.

Watkins joined Enron in late 1993, initially working for Andrew Fastow, managing Enron’s $1 billion-plus portfolio of energy-related investments. She held the portfolio management position for more than three years, transferring at the start of 1997 to Enron’s international group focusing primarily on mergers and acquisitions of energy assets around the world. In early 2000, Watkins transferred into Enron’s broadband unit where she worked on various projects until late June of 2001 when she went back to work for Fastow in his new area of responsibility over the mergers and acquisitions group of Enron. She resigned from Enron in November 2002.

The lecture, which is free and open to the public, is part of the Richard P. Gifford Lecture Series sponsored by Lynchburg College School of Business and Economics. A reception and book signing will follow. For more information, contact Paul Kelbaugh at 434-544-8417.