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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 30 November 2012
"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'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
on 26 November 2012
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 3 February 2014
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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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 4 December 2012
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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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 9 December 2012
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.

His comments on and observations of the misguided Code and Manner under which business is conducted in Japan are very perceptive and useful and pinpoints where the fundamental weaknesses are to be found in the ingrained conventions of Japanese culture, with reflexive obedience, a reluctance to question authority, a devotion to 'sticking with the programme' and an abiding and unhealthy insularity. These negative characteristics coupled with a preponderance of 'cross shareholdings' between the major commercial companies and institutions together with completely ineffective regulatory bodies and compliant accounting firms, has the effect of keeping any improper activities away from the gaze of the smaller individual shareholders, the public at large and financial media. This was a concern that Gillian Tett voiced in her excellent book "Saving The Sun" but which some years after seems to have gone unheeded by the Japanese authorities. This is extremely worrying and does not augur well for the future of the Japanese economy and inward investment. Frankly this reluctance to run business transparently means that there could be many hidden time bombs (for example undeclared massive bad debts in Banks) which when they eventually 'surface' could well plunge the Japanese Business and Financial model into total meltdown, and in turn destabilize the whole region's economy with dire knock-on consequences globally.

Woodford was successful in bringing the full extent of the fraud into the open, the removal of all and the criminal prosecution of some of those responsible, and although this was not mentioned in the book his lawyers secured compensation of £10 million for wrongful dismissal.

Whistleblowers are a rare species, have to be very single-minded and impervious to all the derogatory slurs cast in their directions by those on whom the whistle has been blown, and the inevitable loss of their job and income, but deserve our respect and admiration, none more so than Essex Boy Michael Woodford. They are fervently driven by the conviction that to see a wrong and not to expose it, is to become a silent partner to its continuance. Woodford's courage in his endeavours to right the Olympus wrongdoing was very courageous and resulted in him losing a job that he loved and caused serious difficulties in his marriage which thankfully were happily resolved.

A very good book, readable, eye opening, and yet worrying in terms of the possibility of an implosion of the Japanese financial system causing contagion worldwide.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 5 December 2012
This book can be read by so many people. Business people with an interest in Japan and how they would react if they were caught up in a similar situation of wrongdoing. Those simply interested in how situations test people to the limits and the effects on their family. My favourite part of the book is the surreal moment where Mr Woodford decides not to call the police on some rowdy neighbour's children who are home-alone because of a fear that the armed police who had been allocated to protect him would be sent!Real page turnning stuff.
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on 27 March 2015
I've listened to Woodford speak and I can see how he go where he did before Olympus came crashing down around him. I found his talk fascinating, hence the purchase of the book - he knows how to captivate an audience.

Woodford's account gives a very interesting insight into corporate Japan and their apparent failings at the most senior level, mainly attributable to management structures based upon age, status etc rather than ability.

The scale of the corruption, even as a seasoned investigator is quite staggering. If i were still an Olympus shareholder I'd be very concerned, what Woodford was informed of and blew the whistle on may just be the tip of the iceberg.

I'd highly recommend the book, wrote from the heart, no doubt (and referred to at the end) edited by lawyers but a very worthy read. The man loved his company and his job but had to fall on his sword at immense personal and probably financial cost to himself to right a wrong.

Order it now!
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on 29 January 2015
This is Michael Woodford's account of his exposure of a massive long-running fraud at Olympus, the company he ran (briefly). I came away from it staggered that such a deception could endure for so long and also hugely impressed at Woodford's personal courage in tackling it. At times it seems a little melodramatic with his concerns about the involvement of Japanese gangsters in the affair and the threat to his personal safety, but he was there and I wasn't so who is to say if this was paranoia or a legitimate angle to the crimes committed.
But an absolutely riveting read all the same. If it was a novel you would say it was far-fetched, but the fact that this all actually happened shows truth is stranger than fiction. It is also well-written, and steers clear enough of the pitfall of getting into the technicalities and jargon of how the fraud was perpetrated, making it a book accessible to all. Essential reading for anyone interested in international business and corporate governance.
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on 6 April 2014
How to judge a real-life book about the photography industry (well, sort of), that reads like an all-out crime triller? It was a very pleasant read, for sure, and rather exciting to boot, but I've got to say; I doubt a person is able to climb their way from salesman to CEO of a multinational without ever having mis-stepped: I can't shake the feeling that we're not getting the full story (great as it is), and the carefully crafted 'I never did anything wrong ever' taste of this book just doesn't ring true.

Interesting, exciting, and fun... But a little bit of a dud nonetheless, even though I can't fully put my finger on why.

Still, if you're interested in CEO-ing, Japan, or the photography industry, you could spend a lot more time reading a lot less interesting books than this - so give it a whirl!
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on 12 July 2014
I attended a guest lecture where Michael Woodford spoke about his experience as a whistle blower and I bought the book to learn a bit more about his experiences.

The book is a very personal account of Woodford's experiences whistle blowing in a company he worked for for 30 years and the consequences of highlighting financial irregularities. For a book with major themes of corporate governance, business and financial practices it is a surprisingly engaging read and isn't dry at all. I enjoyed the insight into Japanese culture and it's clear that despite his experience Woodford holds the country in high regard.

Overall a very interesting read about the consequences for a man who stuck to his principles and stood up for what he believed in.
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