With a Ph. D. in Nutritional Biochemistry from Cornell University in hand, Mark Whitacre worked for Fortune 500 companies Ralston Purina and Degussa (Evonik) before he was hired at Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) at age 32 as president of the BioProducts Division. He was the youngest Divisional President in the history of the company, and in just six years their fermentation complex became one of the largest in the world. He became a Corporate Vice President of ADM and was the leading candidate to become the next company president until poor judgment and high-level corruption brought his world crashing down.
Now Executive Director of t-factor of Coca Cola Consolidated, Inc., Whitacre is the guest speaker at a special Christian Business Men’s Connection (CBMC) Zoom event on Wednesday, June 17 from 12 – 1:30 p.m. where he will speak on “When Good Leaders Lose Their Way.” (Register at bit.ly/CBMCMark) Drawing from his unique history, Mark provides one-of-a-kind insight into corporate ethics, corporate greed and the warning signs of a flawed corporate leadership.
Losing the Way
Here how this rising executive became an FBI informant and wore a wire for three years as a whistleblower responsible for uncovering the ADM price-fixing scandal in the early 1990’s. His undercover work with the FBI was the inspiration for the major motion picture, “The Informant,” starring Matt Damon as Mark Whitacre. Originally given full immunity, Whitacre’s missteps still landed him in prison where he served an 8 ½ year sentence, but it was during that time that his life was transformed.
Looking back on the experience now, Whitacre said, “It’s amazing. Going to prison and getting turned into the FBI actually saved my family. I would have done everything I could to keep that job, but I didn’t have God – that was my god. I was obsessed with that position and that livelihood. I think I would have become the number two executive there, but I would have lost my family. In my case, the journey of incarceration actually saved my family.”
What is most remarkable is that his wife Ginger stood by his side when Whitacre worked undercover for the FBI and when he served time in federal prison. She even moved to each state where he was incarcerated and visited him every weekend.