When I speak, I tell the story of the “former” Healthsouth and its failed corporate culture, but more importantly, I focus on why this story is relevant in today’s business world. I talk about the fraud’s small beginnings, the deceptive rationalizations, and how and why it grew exponentially.
I don't view this as an accounting story, or even necessarily as a business story. Unethical, and even fraudulent activities are cancerous and hurt innocent people, and only through education, disciplined leadership, and effective internal governance, will we hope to cure it.
With accounting and auditing professionals, I thoroughly review the mechanics of the fraud and how detection was missed by auditors, analysts and the SEC, but most importantly, how to detect fraudulent activity. I point out not just financial red flags, but non-financial ones as well. In university settings, the needs of each class are different. For example, with MBA students I may focus on leadership principles and ethics, while with auditing students I may study the debits and credits of the Healthsouth fraud, and how to effectively audit those areas. Whether students are in business or not, my goal is to stress principles of honesty and long term direction and discipline.
With all groups, whether it’s professional or academics, I provide a unique perspective, and I challenge attendees to work with ethics, integrity, and a strong moral compass and how to identify people who don’t share those virtues.