Enron-trained executives lead other energy firms.
If Ken Lay has one attribute that has led to Enron Corp.'s rapid rise into the forefront of worldwide energy companies, its his ability "to surround himself with outstanding people," declares long-time colleague Stanley Horton, chairman and CEO of Enrons Gas & Pipeline Group. "He picks the best people he can and gives us a lot of autonomy in running our businesses."
Although Lay pays well, Horton says, "he expects results. He's mild-mannered and quiet, but he can be stern and demanding."
The high expectations Lay sets, in fact, is one reason analysts give for Enron's high executive turnover.
Lay himself acknowledges, "Initially a lot of our people who were very good at managing in a regulated market couldn't make the move to a competitive environment."
Still, he notes, at least one-third of Enron's present management committee has been with the company since its regulated days.
Also explaining Enron's executive turnover is the fact that as the company has ventured into new businesses. Lay hasn't hesitated to bring in top people from outside the company to run them.
"He has assembled a fine group of professionals," says Stephen Moore, vice president and senior analyst at Moodys Investors Services.
A third reason: Lay hires such high-caliber executives and provides such a valuable training environment that other energy companies regard Enron as prime recruiting ground. Among Lay-trained executives are James E. Rogers, president and CEO, Cinergy Corp.; Oliver G. (Rick) Richard III, chairman, CEO, and president, Columbia Energy Group (until recently Columbia Gas System); and Charles R. Crisp, president, Tejas Gas Corp.
Another Lay protg, Ronald Burns, is former president of both Union Pacific Railroad and Entergy Corp.