Two weeks ago I attended a lecture at the Center for Business and Society, Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College. The speaker was Andrew Fastow, the former chief financial officer of the Enron Corporation, the seventh largest company in America at the time of its collapse. It was a scandal that cost investors and employees over one billion dollars and saw Fastow incarcerated for his crimes.
The demise of the Enron Corporation and those involved was documented by Oscar award-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney in the 2005 film, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room.
Fastow was sharing his experience with students under the banner of ethics. He asked students how they would act in a series of hypothetical situations. For example, if the culture of the company called for activities that are not technically wrong but are morally wrong, would you do it?
Recording the lecture was not allowed, but I was pleased to see this summary of the lecture online.
This was not the first time that Fastow reviewed his experiences in the business world through the lens of ethics. This Bloomberg Businessweek article outlines Fastow’s outreach to other colleges. Fastow “conveyed contrition and deep regret for what he did without making excuses,” the Leeds School of Business Dean wrote. He also conveyed this sentiment during the Dartmouth lecture. In a chilling start to the talk he said, "I am here for one reason only, because I went to prison."
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