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Exposure: From President to Whistleblower at Olympus [Kindle Edition]

Michael Woodford
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews)

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Book Description

President, whistleblower, crusader. Exposure is the story of how Michael Woodford exposed the dark heart of Olympus.



When Michael Woodford was made President and CEO of Olympus, he became the first Westerner ever to climb the ranks of one of Japan's corporate icons.



Then his dream job turned into a nightmare.



He learned about a series of bizarre mergers and acquisitions deals totalling $1.7 billion - a scandal which if exposed threatened to bring down the entire company. He turned to his fellow executives but was met with hostility and a cover-up. Within weeks he was fired in a boardroom coup that shocked the international business world. As rumours emerged of Yakuza (mafia) involvement in the scandal, Woodford fled Japan in fear of his life. He went straight to the press - becoming the first CEO of a multinational to blow the whistle on his own company.



Exposure is a deeply personal memoir that reads like a thriller. As Woodford himself puts it, 'I thought I was going to run a health-care and consumer electronics company but found I had walked into a John Grisham novel.'



'Tells his tale like a thriller. A fine book by a fine man who did the right thing' -The Times



'A brilliantly gripping book, with a great hero at its heart' -Evening Standard



Michael Woodford grew up in Liverpool and joined Olympus as a medical equipment salesman, rising through the ranks to run its UK, MEA and European businesses. In April 2011 he was appointed President and COO of the Olympus Corporation - the first Western 'salary-man' to rise through the ranks to the top of a Japanese giant. That October he was made CEO, but only two weeks later was dismissed after querying inexplicable payments approaching $2 billion. He was named Business Person of the Year 2011 by the Sunday Times, the Independent and the Sun, and won the Financial Times Arcelor-Mittal Award for Boldest Businessperson of the Year. He lives in London with his wife and two teenage children.


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Review

With as much suspense as most thrillers, Michael Woodford's story has the hallmarks of a John Grisham novel. Even those without much knowledge of business should find it easy to follow and enjoyable to read. A brilliantly gripping book, with a great hero at its heart. His story is all the more frightening for being true. (Evening Standard)

Michael Woodford's rapid ascent and downfall for doing the right thing is nicely told in this first-person whodunnit. The kind of integrity and courage that Woodford displayed is unusual. Exposure should be seen as compulsory reading for company directors and MBA students.... Woodford stands tall as an example of leadership. Read his book and ask yourself: would you do the same thing - or would you just shut up and go to Davos? (Economist)

Brace yourself, for this is a rare tale of integrity and probity in business. Woodford tells his tale like a thriller, uncovering fraud piece by piece... He triumphs with a pacey narrative [and] a storyteller's eye for detail. A fine book by a fine man who did the right thing. If it does get the Hollywood treatment, Woodford should get a George Clooney at the very least. (The Times)

Michael Woodford had everything the corporate world could ever offer. Yet when he discovered rampant corruption at the core of one of Japan's most prestigious companies, he did not hesitate: This is a sensational personal account of a man of great courage and principle who got to the top, and blew the whistle to glorious effect. In the corporate world Michael Woodford is too rare and exceptional a breed (Jon Snow Channel 4 News)

If Michael Woodford follows through with his threat to write a book on the events leading up to his dismissal by Olympus it promises to be a real humdinger along the lines of Too Big To Fail or Barbarians At the Gate (James Moore Independent)

Michael Woodford took a considerable risk in exposing wrongdoing. He was a study of boldness in action (Lionel Barber Financial Times)

The most celebrated international whistleblower of recent times... his story is filled with mystery, suspense, duplicity and betrayal (Management Today)

The business book of the year has to be Michael Woodford's Exposure (Rosamund Urwin Evening Standard)

The first westerner to work his way to the top of a Japanese corporation discovered a few months later a £950m secret eating away at its heart. ... when he blew the whistle [he] learned of potential plots to take his life. (Independent)

In a world increasingly dominated by global multinationals, he just felt someone had to speak out (Sunday Times)

He lost his job for his integrity (The Economist)

Michael Woodford could have spent years turning a blind eye to the shady dealings of executives at Olympus. Instead he dove headfirst into allegations of corporate misconduct (Time)

Michael Woodford has proven himself a hero, though he never wanted the battle. He risked everything (Clive Stafford Smith)

A gripping chronicle by a corporate whistle-blower who achieved a stunning victory (Kirkus)

He is one of the few foreign businessmen to have penetrated deep inside a Japanese corporation and to report back unflinchingly on what he saw. What he found was not pretty (Financial Times)

About the Author

Michael Woodford grew up in Liverpool and joined Olympus as a medical equipment salesman, rising through the ranks to run its UK, MEA and European businesses. In April 2011 he was appointed President and COO of the Olympus Corporation - the first Western 'salary-man' to rise through the ranks to the top of a Japanese giant. That October he was made CEO, but only two weeks later was dismissed after querying inexplicable payments approaching $2 billion. He was named Business Person of the Year 2011 by the Sunday Times, the Independent and the Sun, and won the Financial Times ArcelorMittal Award for Boldness in Business. He lives in London with his wife and two teenage children.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 5563 KB
  • Print Length: 255 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio Penguin (29 Nov. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009K6DLAQ
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #66,586 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Born in 1960, Woodford grew up in the British port city of Liverpool, and after moving to the south of England spent the next 30 years of his professional life working at Olympus. In April 2011 he was appointed President and COO of the Olympus Corporation - the first Western 'salary-man' to rise through the ranks to the top of a Japanese giant. That October he was made CEO, but only two weeks later was dismissed after querying inexplicable payments approaching $2 billion.

Woodford is married with two children and lives in London. He now spends his life writing and talking on the issues of business culture, and the frailties of human nature. This includes two books, the Japanese language 'Terminated' and 'Exposure,' which both have at their heart the issues of loyalty and betrayal.

Drawn from his experience of being the first president in history to become a Whistleblower of his own corporation, Woodford talks around the world on subjects covering everything from improving corporate governance, to how we can achieve a more moral form of capitalism.

Aside from his desire to share the lessons of the Olympus scandal, Woodford dedicates much of his energies to his charities promoting road safety and human rights. Perhaps as result of his humble beginnings, Woodford does not believe in inherited wealth and expects his children to make their own way in the world. To this end, he and his wife Nuncy are bequeathing the majority of their estates to charity.

The Sunday Times, The Independent and The Sun all made Woodford their 2011/12 'Business Person of the Year', and he also received the prestigious Financial Times "Boldness in Business" Award. Last year, Woodford was the winner of the 'Association of Certified Fraud Examiners award' "For Choosing Truth Over Self", and in March 2013 was the winner of the inaugural Contrarian Prize.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you can keep your head... 30 Nov. 2012
Format:Hardcover
"IF" by Rudyard Kipling is Michael Woodford's favourite poem, but it is more than that - it is a beacon for the way he conducts his life. His story of 'triumph and disaster' is heartfelt and honest. 'Exposure' gives an extraordinary insight into the otherwise closed, aloof world of Japanese corporate culture and into the corruption and self interest at the top of one of Japan's finest technology companies - Olympus. Having worked his way up the organisation over 30 years, Woodford thought he was taking control of Olympus when he was made worldwide President in April 2011 and he was lauded, praised and further promoted by the company Board - 6 months later he was fired. The company said this extraordinary action (nobody gets fired in Japan) was for a lack of understanding of the ways Japanese business works - the truth is a very different and sinister tale, told in fast moving narrative of twists and turns, hopes and disappointments.

A true story published immediately following the events, this is Woodford's first book and it is clearly written by someone used to using the written word to get his way...it's a cliché, but I couldn't put it down.

Kipling's poem starts with the line: "If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you"...Woodford kept his head (and his integrity), he was blamed but ultimately the wrongdoers (or some of them) have lost their heads. This isn't just a book for those interested in corporate governance or business ethics, it's a book about human nature and how Japan still struggles to cope with openness and reality. It's a story of good versus evil, and the results are not what might be expected.
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38 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Christmas Present Brilliant Business Read 26 Nov. 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Great present for the man/woman who reads and your not sure what to get them. This book is a great read. It is a real insight into how business operates in Japan. I must admit to being a bit ignorant about all this, just caught snippets of the story on the news. But this book is very readable, ordered on Friday, delivered on Saturday, read by Sunday!!1 What a page turner. It would make a brilliant film!!! If you like John Grisham well read a true story with the same excitement only for real!! It reminds me of Adams versus Roche - another great book that was turned into a film with David Suchet. It is not just a book for men (sexist comment) but I am a woman - it really is a great and inspiring read about whistleblowers and how a story just takes on a life of its' own. I urge you to read this great true story. Would that there were more men like Michael Woodford, if only to write great books.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
An extraordinary account by probably the most morally incorruptible man I have ever met. Back when I was a salesman at Keymed, "MCW" as we knew him was our big boss. He once declined to accept my letter of resignation when I made a mistake necessitating a visit to his corner office on a Saturday morning for what I thought was my judge and jury. He accepted my honest apology, saying he too had one had the same experience, with AHR aka Albert Reddihough. He told me then that it is always best to be honest. This book truly displays the integrity and character of Mike Woodford. I urge you to read it.
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By Ladyv
Format:Paperback
Wow! What a gripping and fast read! I was gripped from the first page until the last and had so many feelings towards this story. Since the start of the recession we have seen CEO after CEO frogmarched from various boardrooms across the world for their corruption, greed and inadequate management of the companies in which they represent and about time too. I also work in the corporate sector and whilst I am not immune to what really goes on in these types of companies this story is truly shocking beyond words and I bet this sort of thing is rife in almost most corporates. The only difference here is that they don't have a brave CEO to expose it!

I am also used to supporting people at this level and believe me the CEO position can be one of extreme loneliness in situations such as these and it would be very hard to know who to trust. These men may be parachuted into these positions but you can very quickly lose your new power and wealth and most of the time for wrongdoing which cannot be said for Michael Woodford. Sacked for doing the right thing... beggars belief quite honestly.

Michael Woodford is the most sincere and honest CEO we have in Great Britain and what a wasted talent in all honesty. Just wish he would have been a CEO of a British company as we could certainly have done with people like him leading our companies back here in Britain especially through some very difficult years.

I wish Michael and his family every slice of happiness they get. They certainly deserve it after everything they have been to and the threat to their family life.

You would think that lessons would be learnt from this and the stories that came through during the recession but sadly I think we are due to see some more Olympus's of this world in the next decade and I think corporate greed and corruption will only increase but let's hope there are some brave soles like Michael to expose us to the truth!
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars DOGGED PERSISTENCE 9 Dec. 2012
By DOPPLEGANGER TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Michael Woodford joined a subsidiary of Olympus in 1981 and rose through the ranks until 2011 when he was appointed CEO of Olympus Corporation making him one of a handful of foreign businessmen running a Japanese company. Alas his successful run in the company came to end after a few weeks in charge of the company when he discovered that hundreds of millions of dollars had been transferred from Olympus to advisors and companies in the Cayman Islands arising from a number of 'flaky' companies that Olympus had purchased for huge sums but which were worth little and unprofitable.

"Exposure" relates Michael Woodford's horror at these discoveries and his dogged determination to reveal the full extent of the fraudulent activities that had been prevalent in the company for some years. He did so not to bring the company down but out of a sense of loyalty to a company he had worked hard for 30 years in the sincere hope that the wrongs could be put right, a new management put in place, and a return to proper trading thus ensuring the future of the many staff not caught up in the malfeasances. However, within days of his confronting the chairman of the board and previous CEO Tsuyoshi Kikukawa and demanding an explanation, he was summarily dismissed and fearing for his safety in view of possible underworld crime involvement in the swindle immediately left Japan and flew back to London where he orchestrated an effort to publicly out the truth and the executives and directors responsible sacked. This book gives a gripping account of his campaign for achieving this involving a frantic round of numerous visits to Japan, New York, and London consulting with lawyers, the media, law enforcement and regulatory agencies, all funded by Woodford personally.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping real life drama
I was not expecting to be so enthralled by this book, it's well worth a read, and would make a great film
Published 11 days ago by Andy Rayner
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic read, couldn't put it down
Fantastic read, couldn't put it down. Modern corporate world meets and clashes with Japanese ingrained culture, at points reads like a thriller. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Mr M B Lanstone
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for CEO/CFO/Board Members
Excellent book for all Senior Management and Board to read!
Published 3 months ago by Ashish Sharma
4.0 out of 5 stars Exposure
Still yet to read this book. However i watched the documentary on bbc and it was very intresting.
Published 3 months ago by Mr. Andy
5.0 out of 5 stars Unbelievable, gripping, insightful, inspirational
Gripping as a good thriller, unbelievable (about the way Japan operates) as a good science fiction book, insightful as a how-to manual and definitely inspirational.
Published 4 months ago by Roman
4.0 out of 5 stars Woodford's account of corporate Japan & Olympus is fascinating, this...
I've listened to Woodford speak and I can see how he go where he did before Olympus came crashing down around him. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Allan Maund
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
A very good ream and exposes the Japanese way of business
Published 5 months ago by owen edwards
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Just as described
Published 6 months ago by Kate
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A fabulous non fiction read which demonstrates the integrity and resilience of the author.
Published 6 months ago by Scott
5.0 out of 5 stars Non-fiction as gripping as any thriller
This is Michael Woodford's account of his exposure of a massive long-running fraud at Olympus, the company he ran (briefly). Read more
Published 7 months ago by Christopher Sleight
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