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Michael G. Winston    

Global Business Executive & Whistleblower; Known for Public Trial Against Countrywide Financial Corporation & Bank of America

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.

Speech Topics

Lessons from Legendary Leaders

Throughout history, great leaders have understood that change brings tremendous opportunities as well as fresh risks. In this presentation, you will learn how great leaders throughout the ages…from the ball field to the boardroom, from politics to science, learned to survive- and even thrive- during turbulent times by adhering to timeless principles and maintaining flexible visions. While clearly “the past is not prologue”, we can still learn the characteristics that lead to abiding success from great leaders in all walks of life. They all consistently communicate vision, inspiration, courage and character…critical components for leadership greatness!

Lessons from Legendary Leaders provides a blueprint for the characteristics of true leadership, clearly illustrated with stories that make our understanding of these leaders clear, compelling and worthy of note and, perhaps, emulation.

Developing Human Capital

Today's hyper-competition has eroded many traditional sources of competitive advantage. Technology can be copied or appropriated more and more quickly, economies of scale and scope are less important in a rapidly changing marketplace and a global business environment makes it more difficult to control access to resources or distribution channels.

The ways in which people are managed, in contrast, can lead to competitive advantages that are much harder to imitate. In today's business environment, it is clear that human capital and intellect drive business success. As organizations become more and more dependent on technology, human capital becomes more critical to long-term competitive advantage.

In good times and bad, there has always been, and will always be, a war for talent. You cannot be a top company unless you have top people. Acquiring, building, supporting and leveraging a high-performance workforce have never been more critical for profitable growth...or client satisfaction. Developing Human Capital reveals important ways you can make your organization the premiere talent magnet.

Breakthrough: Organizational Learning

Today’s knowledge explosion and the galloping pace of change demand an unprecedented learning response from organizations. Rapidly evolving technology, diminishing natural resources, increasing global competition, and a more diverse workforce – all are changes requiring organizations to learn more and to learn it faster in order to remain competitive.

To survive and prosper, companies must adopt a way of managing that is based on their capacity to learn and change -- consciously, continuously and quickly. “Learning organization” is not just a buzzword. It is a critical capability for any company that wants to navigate the coming years successfully. This program uncovers the critical success factors discovered and employed by high-performing companies in becoming learning organizations.

Leadership…in the Eye of the Storm!

A changing business environment requires an increasingly high level of human performance within an increasingly complex business world. Leadership…in the Eye of the Storm details cutting-edge tools and strategies leaders use during turbulent times to tap and optimize the talents and skills of those around them - stimulating high performance, sparking creativity and imagination, encouraging teamwork and inspiring loyalty.

The key is stepping up to the task of creating an environment in which people want to, and can, perform at the highest levels of their potential. This program provides participants with the perspectives, strategies and tactics to shape both their personal destinies and their organization’s futures in an age of complexity and uncertainty.

Creating a High Performance Culture

The company that dominates in today’s tough business climate will be the one with the most energizing vision, soundest business strategies, most empowering structure and culture, and most talented leadership team. The key to success is designing a total system of improvement in which these key elements are aligned. This exciting program contains the results of over two decades of research focused on Creating a High Performance Culture to generate world-class performance. Participants learn new strategies for promoting a new structure and culture that will support the quest for ever-higher levels of excellence in anticipating and exceeding customer needs, reducing cycle time, creating flawless product and service integrity and reliability, creating cost-competitive advantage, and developing best-in-class partnerships with employees, suppliers and customers.

Driving Change

Change is occurring at a blistering pace, leaving many businesses unprepared. Wave after wave of technological breakthroughs have revolutionized entire industries overnight. Wrenching political changes around the world are bringing new opportunities and fresh risks. Competition in global markets is growing fiercer by the day. More sophisticated customers expect ever-higher levels of quality, customization, convenience, and timeliness. This is a time of change…a time of tremendous opportunity, but also one of substantial risk. In today’s business environment, where change is necessary for survival, organizations must be willing, able and eager to change. The business climate will likely experience continued turbulence. New regulatory challenges as well as lingering economic uncertainty pose significant challenges. Success will depend not only on size, but also on speed and competitiveness to capitalize on fast-moving changes in markets, technologies, and the general business landscape. Driving Change equips organizations and leaders to dominate in this tough, competitive environment with the tools to anticipate, drive and capitalize on change.


Wall Street's greatest enemy: The man who knows too much
Aug. 28, 2013 - What Michael Winston knows about corporate crimes will horrify you. That's why financial giants want to destroy him...
How a Whistle-Blower Conquered Countrywide
Feb. 19, 2011
A Whistleblower’s Horror Story
Feb. 18, 2015 - Years after blowing the whistle on Countrywide, Michael Winston is bogged down in the courts, and fighting for his life...

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