She was Time magazine’s co-Person of the Year and the inspiration for Congress inserting whistle-blowing protections into the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Now, Sherron Watkins, the former vice president at Enron, tells her story in the book, Power Failure: The Inside Story of the Collapse of Enron, co-written with Mimi Swartz, executive editor of Texas Monthly magazine.
Power Failure joins the already more than 60 books that have been written about Enron, the Houston-based energy-trading company that filed for bankruptcy in December 2001. Watkins says she wrote the book so that outsiders would understand why employees loved working at Enron even if they weren’t always comfortable about what was going on at the company. The book interweaves Watkins’ story with those of the usual list of Enron characters, including Jeffrey Skilling, Andrew Fastow, and Kenneth Lay. Watkins describes the corporate culture as constant pressure to network and close big deals.
Watkins worked at Enron from 1993 until November 2002. Prior to that, she had worked in the Houston office of Arthur Andersen. In the summer of 2001, while working in the finance department, Watkins became aware that the company had created complex, sham partnerships. She sent an anonymous memo to CEO Lay about the suspicious transactions and saying that she feared Enron would "implode in a wave of accounting scandals." Watkins says she approached Mr. Lay because she trusted him to do the right thing.
Not everyone hails Watkins as a hero. Articles in both Business Week and Forbes magazines point out that Watkins’ behavior doesn’t fall within the true definition of a whistleblower because she failed to notify outside authorities, such as the press or the board, about what she knew.
Order your copy of Power Failure: The Inside Story of the Collapse of Enron at Amazon.com.