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The Women of Enron

Four women, four experiences: before, during, and after the Enron debacle.

This isn’t what you think. (We’ll leave that to Playboy.) Nor is it another story about the collapse of Enron or the rise of a new era of scandal, malfeasance, and mistrust. Instead, this collection of profiles is about life after corporate death. What happens when the company that built your reputation, that made you rich, that gave you an identity you reveled in turns out to be a sham? How do you grieve? Which life lessons do you take with you? Which do you toss? How do you move on?

To find the answers to these questions, we turned to four women who, each in her own way, played a role in the rise — and in some cases the fall — of Enron. Why only women, you ask? For starters, we decided that Kenneth Lay, Jeffrey Skilling, and Andrew Fastow have gotten quite enough ink already, thank you very much. So we approached both men and women who we thought had interesting tales of survival. As it turned out, the most intriguing, introspective, and thoughtful ex-Enron folks we talked to were women.

Apart from their gender, the four women profiled here have little in common beyond the fact that they all worked for a company that changed their lives, and they all have had to deal with the consequences. Two you’ve undoubtedly heard of. There’s Sherron Watkins, who spotted wrongdoing and tried to bring it to the attention of others. And there’s Rebecca Mark, who in her 19-year tenure rose nearly to the pinnacle of the company, only to fall all the way back down. Two you probably don’t know: Margaret Ceconi, who also tried to blow the whistle, and Deborah Perotta, who found her true identity only after the company disappeared. Each of these women has dealt with the fallout from Enron differently. Some are trying to forget it ever happened, while others are trying to build new careers from the smoking ruins of the disaster itself. Yet as new books on the company hit the presses (see page 38) and trials fast approach, it’s fascinating to hear these women remember much of their experiences at Enron with a nostalgia that borders on the wistful. “Important,” “sexy,” “alluring,” “fulfilling,” “a rush” — these are just some of the words that they used to describe their past lives. So how have they coped, and what have they learned? Read on to find out.

The Women of Enron