Media April 2012

Whistleblower Woodford Named Person of the Year

Michael Woodford was named Person of the Year by the Financial Times (FT) at its annual Boldness in Business Awards on 20 March.

The 50-year-old Liverpudlian and newly appointed boss of Olympus was sacked last October after confronting board members over high fees the firm had paid for acquisitions. After initial denials, the firm later admitted to a £1.1bn accounting cover-up, leading to the arrest of top officials.

One of the judges, FT Editor Lionel Barber, said: “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”.