Post-Enron Job Seeking: 'Know Your Ethical Boundaries,' Says Business Prof

March 7, 2002

by Alan Hunt

In the wake of the Enron collapse, faculty members of Baylor's Hankamer School of Business had some advice Feb. 27 for young graduates about to enter the job market.

"My advice to young people would be," said accounting professor Charlene S. Budd. "'You need to really know what your ethical boundaries are and be well grounded in your own beliefs so that you don't get sucked into some of these shady deals, even though they may be very glamorous and tempting and may look like a short cut to get ahead.'"

Budd, along with four other business school professors, focused on "The Impact of Enron" during a faculty panel discussion attended by graduate business students. Dr. Patricia M. Norman, assistant professor of management and panel member, told students, "I'm not sure job hunting is any different than it always was. What's going to be attractive? I think the very culture that was at Enron is going to be very attractive still. You find a company that is very entrepreneurial, where you can go in and make a difference. That's going to be an exciting place to work."

She cautioned, however, that job seekers should carefully examine the culture of the firm. "Find out what the culture is really like, not just what it seems like on the surface," she urged, suggesting contact with the people who "work there day in and day out." She added, "Find out what the leadership is like, and look at the competence level."

Dr. John D. Martin, professor of finance, said over the years he had interviewed a number of top Enron executives during his research. Amid laughter from his audience, he held up a copy of the National Enquirer featuring the Enron episode, saying it was the first time the topic of one of his studies had "made the front page of the Enquirer."

Martin said the Enron chapter would undoubtedly change the way people plan their retirement. "What it has done has heightened our awareness of the need to diversify our investment," he said. "That's abundantly clear."

Panel mediator, Dr. P. Blaine McCormick, assistant professor of management, asked faculty members whether the collapse of a company that was the seventh largest in the nation really mattered. "Everyone's electricity and water is still flowing," he said.

Budd said it mattered in terms of what it represented and how it might influence future corporate behavior. "They did something that was perfectly acceptable," she pointed out. "Now, there's that specter that we don't know what's coming down the pike." Norman said there seemed to be "a lack of trust in things that were perfectly legal before."

Looking for more news from Baylor University?