Aaron Beam Presents Guest Lecture
Aaron Beam, Jr., author of HealthSouth, The Wagon to Disaster
was a guest lecturer at Northeast Alabama Community College
November 3. Beam spoke to a large crowd of students, faculty,
staff, and community members.
The lecture centered on the untold story of HealthSouth, one of
America’s most successful health care companies and
consequently, the perpetrator of one of its biggest frauds in
history. Beam took the audience from HealthSouth’s humble
beginnings, through its meteoric rise to its disastrous
revelation, subsequent trial and his three-month incarceration
in a Federal prison. Moreover, he reveals the nature of the
fraud and the true personality of the driving force behind
HealthSouth – Richard Marin Scrushy.
Beam ‘s story reads like the "Great American Success Story":
start a company from zero, raise some venture capital, take the
company public in two years, become a millionaire overnight and
see the company become the darling of Wall Street. But this
success story didn't end there when he found himself in the
middle of a corporate scandal, lost almost everything and ended
up in prison. That's not the way success stories are supposed to
end, but that was his harsh reality.
"I think others can learn from my story," Beam says. "From how I
started a major company, how I got involved in the fraud while
serving as Chief Financial Officer, and more importantly, the
human story, the pain of going through a trial and going to
Anguished and guilt-ridden, he resigned from the company in
1997. As the years passed, hearing nothing in the media, he
mistakenly believed that HealthSouth was indeed making its
numbers. In reality, the fraud continued until 2003, when it was
made public by one of Beam's successors. He and each of the
other four CFOs testified against Scrushy when the case when to
trial in 2005. In the meantime, Beam pled guilty to bank fraud.
"You look back and think, 'What was I thinking? Why didn't I
just do the right thing?' But when you're caught up in the heat
of the battle, it didn't seem so simple," he recalls. "I've
learned my lesson. Today, if I was faced with a similar kind of
thing, I know I would do the right thing."
When Beam looks back on his time in prison, he understands how
fortunate he was. "I was only in for three months - that's rare.
Most people there were there for multiple years. If I had been
incarcerated for 5 years or so, that would have been hard to
take. Being in prison is no fun. It was an emotional, tough
thing. The embarrassment to your family and friends - that was
the hardest thing. But my family loved me and stuck by me."
Stressing the positive outcome of an extremely negative
experience is an important part of Beam's story. "It helped me
realize what really, truly is important - your family and your
health. If you've got that, you're okay."
Today, HealthSouth remains a viable company, the largest in its
field. "In a way, I can still take pride in HealthSouth," says
Beam. "It's a great company."
With the HealthSouth turmoil behind him, Beam is focusing on the
future. He believes it's his obligation to share his story so
that others won't be led astray. He understands the pressures
that abound in the boardroom. He wants to educate today's
business leaders - and the leaders of tomorrow - to the pitfalls
to watch for along the road to success.
Beam was available after the lecture for a book signing. For
more information about Beam go to
Pictured at the presentation are (L-R) Haley
Johnson, Instructor of Business and Economics; Aaron Beam,
author/guest lecturer; Sam Dobbs, Division Director of Business
and Computer Science; and Keith McBride, Instructor of Business.