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Exposure: Inside the Olympus Scandal: How I Went from CEO to Whistleblower (2012) Hardcover – 27 Nov 2012
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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) --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
From the Inside Flap
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.
Some wondered at the appointment - how could a gaijin (foreigner) who didn't even speak Japanese understand how to run a Japanese company? But within months Woodford had gained the confidence of colleagues and shareholders.
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 - including the chairman who had promoted him - for answers. But instead of being heralded as a hero for trying to save Olympus, Woodford 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.
Following his departure Woodford faced months of agonizing pressure that threatened his health and his family life. But instead of succumbing he persisted, and eventually the men who had ousted him were held to account.
Exposure is the story of how Michael Woodford chose the truth over a multimillion-dollar salary, and exposed the dark heart of the company he had dedicated his life to. He also paints a devastating portrait of corporate Japan - an insular, hierarchy-driven culture that prefers maintaining the status quo to exposing ugly truths.
The result 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.'
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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.
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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