Former Enron Exec Talks about Ethics at Benedictine College

Former Enron Exec Talks about Ethics

Classroom Lecture Offers a Different Kind of Advice for the Workplace

Published: Thursday, March 17, 2016

Ryan Siurek, former Director of Transaction Support at Enron, spoke to the White Collar Crime class taught by adjunct instructor and Kansas City area lawyer Christopher E. Kopecky on March 16, 2016. Siurek addressed ethical business questions in his presentation, “Ethical Relativism – Developing a Culture of Ethics and Integrity.”

Although facing scrutiny from the SEC and FBI at Enron in the early 2000s, Siurek was never under criminal investigation and helped federal authorities with their case. After his experiences at Enron, he reshaped how he views business. 

Siurek began the evening that he was drawn to accounting because he thought it was a “black and white” subject. However, when he entered the workforce, he learned there were many grey areas and many political processes that often influence business professionals to make ethical compromises.

“If you’re searching for earnings, earnings at any costs, you have to ask yourself if you’re in it for the right reasons,” Siurek said.

He stated that the culture of Enron blurred the lines of what was ethical, from the promotion system and unrealistic management to abusing accounting transactions as a means to an end. Siurek noted that the positive company cultures he has worked in developed him as a professional as much as his negative experiences. He believes that students entering the workforce need to pay attention to the work environment and those with whom they work.

“We live a divided life,” Siurek said. “There is often a split between our faith and our daily lives. You need to take pride in the work that you do and be sure that your work is in line with your values.” 

He encouraged students to not only live their values in the workplace, but to encourage others to work and live with integrity. Siurek stressed the importance of ethics, saying that a successful organization establishes a culture with a foundation of teamwork, empowerment and profitability. He says this is developed by organizations that have a living conversation about ethics, values and the creation of value for stakeholders.

“The difference between working for someone with ethics, with a moral background, and someone that doesn’t is huge,” Siurek said.

Siurek is currently Chief Financial Officer for Sprint’s Prepaid & Wholesale division, one of Sprint’s three business units. He received his Bachelor and Master degrees from Texas A&M University. He said the best part of his college experience was meeting his wife of 18 years, Kimberly. Together they have eight children ranging in age from 16 months to 17 years and live in Overland Park, Kansas. The Siurek family is active in their parish, volunteering as altar servers, lectors, pianists, cantors and on church committees. Their Catholic high school children cover the spectrum of extracurricular activities, including volleyball, basketball, baseball, choir and band. 

Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas.  The school is proud to have been named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report as well as one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by First Things magazine and the Newman Guide.  It prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging.  It has a mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.