Attendees of the RVI Leadership Prayer Breakfast during the National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky., this year will hear the story of a man who went from leadership of a Fortune 500 company to more than eight years behind bars – and how he found his true wealth when he was destitute.
According to a news release, Mark Whitacre earned an Ivy League doctorate in nutritional biochemistry. He conducted extensive international business in Europe and Asia, lived in Germany for four years and was fluent in the language. Then he became a corporate vice president of Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) at age 35, the youngest divisional president in the history of the company and the leading candidate to become its next president. He appeared to have everything.
His next significant milestone was to become the highest-ranked executive of any Fortune 500 company to become a whistleblower.
ADM was engaged in price-fixing on a global scale, and Whitacre went to the FBI without prompting to expose his own company. He wore a wire for almost three years to gather the evidence that would end up costing ADM hundreds of millions of dollars in damages and sending several executives to prison – including Whitacre.
It was there at rock bottom, Whitacre has said, that he found the true meaning of wealth.
“My life before Christ was a train wreck, even though I had everything imaginable materialistically,” he says. “My life became so much better with a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, even during my time in prison when I had zero.”
Whitacre’s story has been the subject of hundreds of articles, three books and the movie “The Informant,” starring Matt Damon as Whitacre.
“We all understand what the pressures to succeed in business can do to you. It’s good for us to help each other refocus on keeping the right priorities,” said Carl Pletcher, RVI Leadership coordinator. “Even and maybe especially when our temporary circumstances and possessions might seem perfect, we have to remember that God’s definition of a perfect life may be different from ours. Mark’s story about that will give us some things to take away and think about as we go about our business at the show.”
Whitacre will give his tale and testimony at the Crowne Plaza Hotel at 7 a.m. on Nov. 28. Individual seats are $17 and tables of 10 are $160. Tickets and sponsorship information are available from Pletcher at (574) 215-7173 or firstname.lastname@example.org.