The Financial Times (FT) has named former Olympus CEO Michael Woodford ?Person of the year? at its annual Boldness in Business Awards.
Woodford lost his job as the camera maker?s newly appointed boss last October after confronting boardroom colleagues with his suspicions over high fees Olympus had paid for acquisitions.
His actions led the company to admit to a £1.1 billion accounting cover-up and the arrest of top officials including ex-chairman Tsuyoshi Kikukawa and former executive vice-president Hisashi Mori.
FT editor Lionel Barber, one of the award’s judges, 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.?
Earlier this month Japanese authorities charged six men with breaching Japan?s financial laws, as inquiries into the scandal continue in the UK and the US.
Woodford is currently suing Olympus for unfair dismissal, an issue the firm?s Tokyo HQ declined to comment on in view of the ongoing legal action, when approached by Amateur Photographer (AP).
In an interview with AP last month, Woodford spoke about his plans to attend an extraordinary general meeting for Olympus shareholders in Tokyo on 20 April.
He also talked about his soon-to-be-launched book about the Olympus affair, and its implications for global corporate governance.
[Picture credit: Chris Cheesman]