October 6. 2011 | Katie Madden Lee
Arthur Andersen Wins Nobel Prize
Well, not exactly. While preparing for my blog, I stumbled across the Ig Nobel Prize, the “Razzie” version of the Nobel Prize that you and I are familiar with. It is given out annually around this time for ten achievements that “celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative – and spur people’s interest in science, medicine and technology.” In most instances, the Ig Nobel Prize is awarded to scientists, researchers, and economists who have made extraordinary, yet hilarious, contributions in their respective fields.
I originally planned to blog about accounting fiascos, as we have, remarkably, reached the tenth anniversary of the infamous Enron scandal, first revealed in October 2001. I remember that time very well. I had just declared my major to be accounting, began wondering what I had just gotten myself into, and was unsure of the future of the profession itself and the reputation that accounting professionals strive to uphold. Did I really want to spend my final college years struggling through the demanding accounting curriculum in preparation to enter an industry that was being ridiculed in the media?
The 2011 Ig Nobel Prizes were awarded last week. Honorees included a Stanford University professor for his work on “How to Procrastinate and Still Get Things Done” (story of my life), and my personal favorite, the professors at Keele University (UK) for “confirming the widely held belief that swearing relieves pain” (I definitely could have been the subject for their award-winning research).
What struck me the most about the history these awards was the 2002 “winner” of the Ig Nobel Prize in Economics: “The executives, corporate directors, and auditors of Enron, Lernaut & Hauspie [Belgium], Adelphia, Bank of Commerce and Credit International [Pakistan], Cendant, CMS Energy, Duke Energy, Dynegy, Gazprom [Russia], Global Crossing, HIH Insurance [Australia], Informix, Kmart, Maxwell Communications [UK], McKessonHBOC, Merrill Lynch, Merck, Peregrine Systems, Qwest Communications, Reliant Resources, Rent-Way, Rite Aid, Sunbeam, Tyco, Waste Management, WorldCom, Xerox, and Arthur Andersen, for adapting the mathematical concept of imaginary numbers for use in the business world.”
A little harsh, but that gentle satire aimed at the accounting industry was nothing compared to jokes on the late night talk show circuit a decade ago. Looking back on my junior year in college, I am thankful that I continued my path in accounting. The industry has not only rebounded from Enron, but remains one of the best careers in 2011 and continues to uphold a strong ethical reputation. I am proud to have spent my eight years in the accounting profession with Watkins Meegan, where I’m surrounded by upstanding professionals and where integrity remains engrained in our foundation.
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