As the first non-Japanese head of the century-old camera manufacturer Olympus, Michael Woodford’s blew the whistle on internal financial irregularities, leading to the termination of his post. a keynote speaker who is adept at speaking about overcoming adversity, business strategy and ethical capitalism, Michael is an excellent addition to the corporate circuit.
As the first non-Japanese head of the century-old camera manufacturer Olympus, Michael Woodford’s unearthing of significant financial irregularities led to the termination of his post, and to an international scandal. Named by four UK newspapers as Business Person of the Year, Michael’s courage has shaped his reputation as one of the world’s most popular keynote and motivational speakers.
Michael’s career began at the age of 16 when he left school and embarked on a management training course at Lucas Aerospace and Millbank College of Commerce. His first job was with Cadbury Schweppes, and he then joined the sales force at KeyMed, the UK division of Olympus. For thirty years, he worked his way up through the company ranks and eventually headed the American and Russian businesses before becoming Executive MD of Olympus Europe. Two years later he took the helm of the global Japanese corporation.
Shortly after taking the post as President and CEO, Michael made the shattering discovery that hundreds of millions of dollars were being transferred to unknown bank accounts, many in the Cayman Islands tax haven. As soon as he brought the irregularities to the attention of his Chairman and board, he was relieved of his duties.
Heading back to London after being told to fear for his safety, Michael went straight to the Serious Fraud Office, setting in motion an enormous investigation involving the SFO, the FBI and the Toyko Police. The scale of fraud is estimated to be $1.7billion, over twenty years. Michael hoped to return to the business and to show shareholders that he was acting with the best interests of the company at heart, but he was turned away.
Michael is now a consultant on corporate governance, business in Japan and workplace cultures.
Since blowing the whistle on Olympus, Michael has made a name for himself as a speaker on risk, ethical capitalism and social responsibility, his keynotes have been acclaimed globally as he can discuss business strategy, overcoming adversity and risk with real-life examples.
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What people said about Michael Woodford
- "Michael was quite simply the rock star of the meeting. It was a thrill and an honor to have him at the meeting."
- Council of Institutional Investors