Lessons from corporate scandals

This post was written by Editorial Assistant, Bethan James.

People love a good scandal. If it isn’t evident in the daily news, it becomes crystal clear in our pop culture. There is dark, high-drama media everywhere. The internet is rife with conspiracy theories. There are multiple well-known podcasts about murder investigations. Recent UK television programmes such as Bodyguard and Killing Eve which graced our screens this autumn are only the beginning of what will be a long autumn/winter filled with crime and drama series. There has also been an influx in recent years of business books that recount corporate scandals. It seems many people are out to expose the darker side of the corporate world, perhaps to show that there is often more than meets the eye. So in recognition of 5th November, the English annual commemoration of Guy Fawkes’s failed attempts on King James I’s life, I thought it would be interesting to pick the best of the bunch of conspiracy theory business books. Let’s see if we can ‘spark’ (sorry, I couldn’t resist) some questions about what we can learn from the scandalous.

Red NoticeRed Notice

Russia has been a point of interest in current affairs for a while now. It will come as no surprise therefore that one of my recommendations centres on it. Red Notice is Bill Browder’s account of how he became an activist against Putin’s regime. In this exposé, Browder uncovers the truth about a skirmish the Russian government did everything in its power to cover up. This book epitomizes what it means to stand up for what you believe in – even with the odds stacked against you.


Billion Dollar WhaleBillion Dollar Whale

This book was number eight in September’s top ten. If this one teaches anything it is the dangers of greed and arrogance. Wright and Hope tell the extraordinary true story of the ‘modern Gatsby’ (according to Booklist), Jho Low, and how he pulled off one of the greatest heists in history. Back in 2009, this unassuming graduate from Wharton set up a scheme to commit fraud on an international scale, using the takings to buy luxury real-estate and fund The Wolf of Wall Street. This book tells Low’s incredible rise and crippling fall. Money can’t get you everything after all.


Bad BloodBad Blood

Bad Blood is another rise-and-fall story, this time of Theranos founder and CEO, Elizabeth Holmes. At number two in September’s top ten, this book has been very popular. John Carreyrou tells the full story despite both Holmes and her lawyers attempting to stop him. Holmes was a Stanford dropout who set up Theranos, a company providing a machine that would revolutionise blood testing, making it faster and easier. However, the technology behind it didn’t actually work – news that came too late to those that had bought shares in the company that ultimately saw it valued at $10Bn. This tale proves the dangers and consequences of lying in business.

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