Core Values Guiding Careers: John Kroger

When considering your Core Values and how they may impact your career change, it is often helpful to learn how someone else made career decisions based on his/her Core Values. John Kroger’s career choices after graduating from law school is one example.

After graduating from law school, he wanted to help society, always believe in what he was doing, and never compromise his values. He decided to join the United States Attorney’s office as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Almost immediately, Kroger became deeply involved in an important case against the Mafia, and he won. This success immediately resulted in his becoming one of the leaders of the Southern District of New York office prosecuting the Mafia and major drug kingpins.

To prosecute a Mafia leader, a U.S. Attorney typically obtains evidence against a lower-level person in the organization and then gives that person the option of providing evidence against his bosses and receiving a reduced sentence. Kroger did this, but some were identified by the mob and murdered. Furthermore, after a mob leader was sent to jail, someone else would takeover.

Kroger worried about the ethics of manipulating lower-level mobsters and getting some of them killed. Drugs were still being pushed. This did not sit well with him, and he quit. Instead of becoming a highly paid defense attorney, which is the usual track for a successful U.S. Attorney, Kroger joined the University of Oregon as a professor of law.

Kroger was there only a short time when he received a call to join the team prosecuting the Enron financial fraud case in Texas. At that time, Enron was viewed as a symbol of financial crime at the highest levels of corporate America. Kroger agreed and immediately became a part of the investigation into Enron’s chief financial officer, Andrew Fastow. The government team discovered that Fastow had illegally transferred funds under his wife’s name. This action put her in legal jeopardy. When the government team gave Fastow the opportunity to cooperate with them to keep his wife out of the case, Fastow cooperated.

Kroger saw it as little different than what he had been doing against the mob and did not like it. Consequently, he quit the government’s Enron prosecuting team and returned to teaching law.

(Mike Schoettle’s source for this summary: Kroger’s book, Convictions: A Prosecutor’s Battles Against Mafia Killers, Drug Kingpins, and Enron Thieves)

Kroger’s Core Value of Social Consciousness drove his career choices. How do your Core Values impact your career choices, including your impending career change?

If you have not already done so, identify your Core Values, especially the ones that are most important to you.

  1. Think about what your life decisions tell you about your values.
  2. What are the values of your family members, friends, and others whom you respect?
  3. Think about the values on the list above and others that may not be on it.
  4. Identify the three or four Core Values that are most important to you.

This blog is an excerpt from the book, Career Change Guide. You can preview this book on this website or buy it at