By Eric Lam
Enron whistleblower Lynn Brewer has some simple advice for any enterprising Ryerson students looking to make a name for themselves by blowing the lid on corporate corruption.
Brewer, on campus Wednesday as the keynote speaker at Ryerson’s 20th annual Business Forum, wasn’t planning on being a hero when she exposed the financial mishaps of Enron executives, leading to the energy conglomerate’s bankruptcy in 2001.
“I did it to protect myself,” Brewer said on the phone from Seattle, Wash. on Monday. “I loved the company, I was loyal, but ultimately I had to cover my back.”
Becoming a whistleblower is something that can leave a permanent mark on you, Brewer explains.
Brewer was hired by Enron’s legal department about three years before the company’s implosion. She oversaw risk management for the company’s deals, and discovered the massive accounting discrepancies that brought Enron down.
“I was getting very wealthy off of stock options,” Brewer said. “Every person has a price, and my price was $250,000. On some level I was choosing to turn a blind eye, (But If) we have a society of people that don’t (expose fraud) how can we hold CEOs accountable?
If I don’t tell (founder) Ken Lay, how do we hold CEOs accountable?”
Brewer chose to do “the right thing,” and lost her retirement savings along with most Enron employees when the company folded.