Shelf Life

Ousted Olympus CEO on becoming a whistleblower

Jeremy Hobson Dec 6, 2012

It’s been just over a year since Michael Woodford was ousted as the CEO of the Japanese camera and medical device maker Olympus. He had been in charge of the company for just two weeks when he started asking the board tough questions and was ultimately fired.

Woodford, who fought for months to find the truth about mysterious acquisitions made by the company, says he didn’t contemplate regret: “You start walking along that bridge, you know you can’t walk back.”

Through the experience, which he has detailed in his new book, Exposure: Inside the Olympus Scandal: How I went from CEO to Whistleblower, Woodford says he gained a new understanding of the Japanese business culture.

“A month following my dismissal, the share price of Olympus was down 81.5 percent, yet the Japanese institutional share holders would not utter one word of criticism,” he says. “That silence, that deafening silence, tells you everything you need to know of why the Japanese capital markets are dysfunctional.”

 

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