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Exposure, Michael Woodford

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

I remember the day Woodford blew the whistle on Olympus back in 2011.  The announcement made headlines across the world and sent Japanese equities into a frenzy.  As the story unfolded I recall being shocked at the size and breadth of the fraud at the heart of the scandal, and the fact that so many of the executives and board members had been complicit for over a decade.  Woodford’s first-person account of the events reads like a Bond film, I flew through the book in a few days, a memorable story from a business leader that should be an example of corporate governance for the rest of the business community.

Publisher’s Weekly: Woodford’s first-person narration sweeps the reader along as he’s brought in as CEO of Olympus, a prominent Japanese company, just as suspicious company activities are becoming public knowledge.  When top company officials resist his efforts to uncover the truth, and ultimately dismiss him in an almost unprecedented move, Woodford goes public.  He emphasizes cultural differences, corporate and social, as a causative factor in his own situation.  Yet Japanese business is not the Japanese people, for whom his admiration is manifest.  Individual encounters highlight the contrast between the ordinary “salaryman” and the corporate hierarchy at Olympus.  He suggests the initiative of Japanese muckraking magazine Facta and the hostile reaction at an outgoing board of directors meeting are signs that new business practices may someday change Japan.  Woodford effectively interweaves individual and cultural themes.  If his depiction of events sometimes includes the trite, self-important, and exaggerated, his insights into Japanese culture, international business practices, and the importance of personal integrity make this a memorable read.