How she blew the whistle: In August 2001, Sherron Watkins, then Enron's vice president for corporate development, sent an explosive, seven-page email to the energy company's CEO, Kenneth Lay. She detailed what she called an "elaborate accounting hoax," which included inflating income and hiding epic losses. Although Lay claimed that he'd launch an investigation, Watkins said that she was immediately punished; her computer's hard drive was confiscated and her desk relocated to the nether regions of Enron. Four months later, Enron could no longer sustain the fraud, and it filed for bankruptcy.
What happened: Five months after she wrote the memo, Watkins was called to testify before Congress and faced criticism for not having notified authorities. By the end of 2002, though, Enron was bankrupt, and Time named Watkins one of the three "People of the Year," and she got a book deal.
What she is doing now: She has since become a public speaker on leadership lessons and problems in U.S. corporate culture. She still lives in Houston but told CNBC that she couldn't continue in business because the label "whistle-blower" made her "radioactive."