Dr. Mark Whitacre, Fortune 500 executive turned FBI informant, spoke to over 1,600 business students at the Lied Center for Performing Arts on the importance of making the right decisions. The event was held as part of the UNL College of Business Administration Business Ethics Program’s Spring Ethics Day Lecture.
Whitacre, who spoke earlier in the day at the inaugural “Beyond the Bottom Line” luncheon, spent nearly nine years in a federal prison for crimes he committed at Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) in the 1990’s. Prior to his time in prison, he also spent three years as an FBI informant against ADM for a price fixing scandal. His story later became a Hollywood movie called The Informant starring Matt Damon.
“My primary message to students is to always do the right thing,” Whitacre said. “They are going to come to a fork in the road at some point in their business careers. I want them to reflect on their decisions and chose the action that has the best long-term positive consequences.”
Mark Whitacre shares his story at Lied Center
Whitacre believes students will enjoy life the most when their career decisions line up with their passions.
“Choose the career path and company that is most fulfilling,” he said. “Don’t choose a path where you’re just going to climb up the corporate ladder the fastest. If you work to just make a lot of money you’ll become a prisoner to your job. I chose that path and then I was trapped in a situation that I could never leave.”
Whitacre now works as the COO at Cypress Systems, Inc. and also travels with his wife, Ginger, telling their story to audiences throughout the country.
The talk and luncheon were sponsored by the Lincoln CBMC.