Incubating the Infidels!

The collapse of Enron in Houston left around 4,500 employees without a job. Enron was known for hiring some of the best and brightest candidates in the country, so despite involvement in the fraudulent downfall of this corporate giant, these jobless employees were very smart, accomplished individuals. However, their association with Enron after the collapse tainted their reputations making it very difficult for them to obtain jobs in the Houston area. Without an income, these employees realized that re-locating might be their only option if they wanted to continue supporting themselves and their families.

However, one Houston man named John Elder looked past the tainted reputations of these individuals to see the intellectual genius and value that they all possessed. He felt strongly that Enron’s employees were its greatest asset and he wanted to devise a plan to keep them in the Houston area. “There’s no way those people are going to be absorbed, especially not at the compensation levels they were getting at Enron,” says Elder, a principal with the executive placement firm of Devine & Christopher, which specializes in the power industry. “Every (energy) company across the country wants to pick off that talent. We don’t want them to leave because of the financial impact on the community” (Houston Business Journal).  Elder was extremely adamant about keeping these people, and their ideas, in Houston.

Consequently, Elder and some of his established peers founded The Resource Alliance Group, a non-profit incubator organization with the purpose of providing funds and resources specifically to ex-Enron employees interested in starting their own entrepreneurial ventures in the Houston area. The Houston Technology Center, the University of Houston Bauer School of Business and many other professional organizations were very willing to lend their time and resources to help Enron employees start their own companies.

The Resource Alliance Group’s first success was Mobius Risk Management, a company that helps large businesses cut energy bills by replacing light bulbs and by helping match them with contracts for natural gas and low-cost electricity.  The company is run by 2 ex-Enron executives who worked in the retail energy services division at Enron.

The Resource Alliance Group is no longer in operation because after a few years they felt that they had a done a superior job to help ex-Enron employees jump-start their entrepreneurial ventures in Houston. The only question remaining is: will these employees learn from Enron’s example and steer clear of risky behavior? What do you think?

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3 Responses

  1. I wonder what the general sentiment is among employers looking at hiring ex-Enron employees. Most of these former employees are brilliant, but are their reputations heavily tainted by the scandal? I would be curious to see what everyone in the class thinks…

    If you were an employer hiring an ex-Enron employee would you view them any differently?

  2. I wonder if anyone tried to measure the benefits of this project. Given their concern about the brain drain on Houston if they had not acted, it would be nice to know how much return they got on the investment int he non-profit (of money and time).

  3. […] Incubating the Infidels! […]

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