Biography

Michael Woodford grew up in Liverpool in the north of England, beginning his working life at Lucas Aerospace as a commercial management trainee. He is 53 years of age, married to Nuncy, a Spanish national, and they have two children, Edward 20 and Isabel 18. As to hobbies, he is a keen runner and enjoys sailing.

Mr Woodford worked for Olympus for 30 years, initially for the UK subsidiary, Olympus KeyMed, joining as a Surgical Salesman, progressing to Sales Manager and Sales Director before being appointed the company's Managing Director in 1990, at the age of 29.

Following a period of dramatic growth for the UK based group, in October 2004 Mr Woodford became a main Board member of Olympus Medical Systems Corporation, and was appointed Executive Managing Director of Olympus Medical Systems Europe, where he implemented a radical programme of change within the organisation which resulted in a doubling of the operating profit within three years.

In this same three-year period, he was also responsible for Olympus' Surgical and Industrial businesses in America, during which time both sales and profitability increased considerably. April 2008 saw his appointment as Executive Managing Director and Chairman of Olympus Europa Holding, with overall responsibility for the European Medical, Industrial, Life Science and Consumer Products businesses, and became an officer of the main Board of Olympus Corporation in Japan. During his tenure of this role, the operating profit of the European business increased by approaching 50%.

In April 2011, Mr Woodford was appointed President and COO of the Olympus Corporation, one of only four 'gaijins' to run a large Japanese company, but was the very first Western 'salaryman' to rise through the ranks to the top.

On October 1 2011, Mr Woodford was made CEO, but only two weeks later on October 14 was dismissed after querying inexplicable payments in excess of $1.5 billion and demanding the resignation of the company's Chairman and Vice President.


Accolades

During Mr Woodford's career, there have been many highlights:

  • In March 1997, he was asked by the United Kingdom's Department of Trade & Industry (DTI) and British Foreign Office, to represent British industry at the 'Asia Europe Young Leaders Symposium' held in Miyazaki and Tokyo.
  • In July 1998, he was invited by Ian McCartney, the then Minister of State at the UK's Department of Trade & Industry, to become a member of the DTI's Working Party to formulate a Code of Practice on Workforce Development.
  • In November 1999, he was honoured to be chosen by the Lord Mayor of London as one of 400 people in the UK who had made an outstanding contribution to British Society in the 20th Century. This was celebrated at the Mansion House, in the presence of Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh.
  • Mr Woodford was an early pioneer in the context of the Olympus 'Social-In' Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy, with his work to reduce casualties and deaths on the roads in the UK and around the world, and was appointed by Her Majesty the Queen as a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the New Year's Honours list in 2002 in recognition of this support of the community.
  • Between 2004 and 2008, Olympus KeyMed, of which Mr Woodford was then the Managing Director, received the highly prestigious Queen's Award for Enterprise, firstly in 2004 in the category of Sustainable Development, then in 2006 for International Trade, and again, in 2008 for Innovation. To receive three Queen's awards in such a short period is a testament to both the high standards and entrepreneurial ethos of the organisation he headed.
  • After his bravery at Olympus, in the United Kingdom, The Sunday Times, The Independent and The Sun, all awarded him the 2011 'Business Person of the Year' and on March 20 2012, he received the prestigious FT/ArcelorMittal 'Boldness in Business' 'Person of The Year '
  • This was first time in history that four national newspapers all chose to honour the same individual. In the same year, Time magazine recognised him as one of the People who mattered. Mr Woodford was the winner of the 2012 Cliff Roberston Sentinel award "For Choosing Truth Over Self" by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE). In March 2013, he was awarded the inaugural Contrarian Prize.

The quotation below is from Lionel Barber, the revered Financial Times editor,

"If there was one person who captured the spirit of boldness in business in 2011, it was Michael Woodford. His selection was a matter of serious discussion among the judges. There were concerns that it might be misconstrued as an incitement to whistleblowers and a broader insurrection against business. But these concerns were allayed once the logic of the choice became clear. Woodford took a considerable risk in exposing wrongdoing. As chief executive, he was arguably acting against his self-interest, since his job was obviously in jeopardy. Yet he did the right thing. He campaigned for proper accounting and persuaded the Japanese authorities to act. He was a study of boldness in action. By choosing him, the judges followed suit."

Lionel Barber, FT Editor, London March 21 2012