When Michael Woodford was made president of
Olympus, the company to which he had dedicated thirty years of his career, he
became the first Westerner ever to climb the ranks of one of Japan's corporate
giants. Some wondered at the appointment, how could a gaijin who didn't even
speak Japanese understand how to run a Japanese company? But within months
Woodford had gained the confidence of most of his colleagues and shareholders.
Unfortunately, soon after, his dream job turned into a nightmare.
The trouble began when Woodford learned about
a series of bizarre mergers and acquisitions deals totaling $1.7 billion, a
scandal that threatened to bring down the entire company if exposed. He turned
to his fellow executives, including the chairman who had promoted him Tsuyoshi
Kikukawa, for answers. But instead of being heralded as a hero for trying to
save the company, Woodford was met with vague responses and hostility, a clear
sign of a cover up. Undeterred, he demanded to be made CEO so he could have
more leverage with his board and continue to search for the truth. Then, just
weeks after being granted the top title, he was fired in a boardroom coup that
shocked Japan and the business world at large. Worried his former bosses might
try to silence him, Woodford immediately fled the country in fear of his life
and went straight to the press, making him the first CEO of a global
multinational to blow the whistle on his own company.
The result is a deeply personal memoir that
reads like a thriller narrative. As Woodford 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.” Download and start listening now!