Michael Winston is a former global business executive, best know for his impact as a whistleblower against the Countrywide Financial Corporation. Winston had a career of distinction in executive positions for over three decades in five Fortune 100 companies across three industries. As global head of leadership and organization strategy he worked closely with C-Suite Officers to develop business models, craft strategies and structure, create cultures and develop leaders.
Serving in executive positions for Motorola, Merrill Lynch, McDonnell Douglas, Lockheed and Countrywide, Michael held the senior-most position in the organization in his discipline. Michael was hailed many times by Leadership Excellence Journal as one of the “100 Most Influential Thinkers on Leadership in the World.”
As Managing Director and Chief Leadership Officer for Countrywide Financial, Winston hired and led the team that designed, developed and implemented the company’s first-ever organization strategy, development and integration initiatives. Under his lead, Countrywide went from being unranked to number eight on a long list of international corporations for being the “Best in Leadership Development.”
Previously, Michael Winston served as Global Head, Worldwide Leadership and Organization Development for Merrill Lynch & Co., during one of the most challenging periods in the history of the financial markets…before and after 9/11. Michael also spent 11 years at Motorola as VP and Managing Director, Global Leadership and Organization Strategy during the company’s meteoric rise from $6B to over $30B. Prior to that, Michael held top strategic human resources positions at McDonnell Douglas and Lockheed Corporations. during seismic shifts in the industry. At Lockheed Corporation, he reported to the Office of the President. Holding a Top Secret Clearance from the U.S. Government, he worked closely with the world-renown “Skunkworks” and successfully scaled their warp-speed cycle-time and quality initiatives throughout the company.
Michael Winston holds a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois, a Master’s Degree from the University of Notre Dame and attended executive programs at Stanford University and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.
As a speaker he has addressed executives from several hundred companies and lectured at Harvard, Stanford, University of California, Berkeley, INSEAD (France), Management Centre Europe (Belgium). Serving as Distinguished Adjunct Professor at Stichting deBaak (The Netherlands) for 16 years, Michael has delivered many presentations on organizational ethics, change, and principled performance. Winston published his book, World-Class Performance, in 2015.
-As a Whistleblower-
Michael Winston was recruited heavily by Countrywide to help them build a “Goldman Sachs on the Pacific.” He served as Managing Director, Enterprise Chief Leadership Officer from 2005-2008. Michael built the strategy, leadership, and culture and tried to stop the fraud, corruption, and deception he observed at Countrywide. His frequent warnings were dismissed or ignored by executive management at every level and Winston was later fired as a result.
In 2008, when it was clear no action would be taken to amend the illegal actions at CFC, Winston approached the SEC, Justice Department and District Attorney with evidence of wrongdoing, but to no avail. With little being done, Michael decided to take Countrywide and Bank of America to court to expose their unlawful business practices and extreme retaliation.
Winston was thrust into the public eye in 2011 when his trial commenced. The trial lasted nearly a month as a jury reviewed compelling evidence of unlawful actions against Winston after his efforts to reform the corruption inside Countrywide. Then, after three days' deliberation, they rendered a verdict in Winston's favor, granting him a $3.8 million award.
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Gretchen Morgenson of the NY Times profiled Michael Winston’s courage and integrity in an article entitled, How A Whistleblower Conquered Countrywide and Salon Magazine’s David Dayen profiled Winston’s story in a piece called Wall-Street’s Greatest Enemy: The Man Who Knows Too Much.
Dr. Winston’s experiences in confronting Countrywide executives about fraud, market manipulation, and insider-trading are highlighted in the television special by Frontline entitled The Untouchables.
However, over two years after winning the jury verdict that was described as “overwhelming” by the trial judge, it was controversially “tossed out” by an Appeals Court. Though pronounced illegal and unjust by various prominent lawyers, Winston's case went back to trial. Rather than another month-long review, the new verdict was reached after just a 12-minute review. Winston's lawyers described the new verdict as a "travesty of justice."
Michael is a founding member of Bank Whistleblowers United.
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