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SECRETS AND LIES
IN A SILICON VALLEY
BY JOHN CARREYROU
ALFRED A. KNOPF, 2018 $26
Elizabeth Holmes was a
dedicated young CEO who
built the revolutionary
biotech empire Theranos, making her the
youngest female self-made billionaire in 2015.
Theranos’ technology was slated to perform
multiple tests on a single drop of blood in a
record amount of time. The company’s mission
statement, still present on its website, pledges
to “make actionable information accessible for
everyone at the time it matters”.
Unfortunately, it was all built on a house of
cards. The single-drop-of-blood technology
wasn’t what it seemed. To secure investors,
Holmes grossly oversold Theranos’ capabilities,
and the duplicity this required caused her
workforce to suffer. One founding member was
even driven to suicide.
It’s not surprising it was former employees
who ultimately brought her down. Wall Street
Journal reporter and Bad Blood author John
Carreyrou had several sources who were chewed
up and spat out via Theranos’ relentlessly high-
Carreyou’s exposé is full of tales of workplace
secrecy, bullying and on-the-spot terminations.
Overworked, morally compromised and actively
threatened with legal action, Carreyrou’s
sources – once so enamoured with Holmes and
her vision – one by one realised that the company
was dangerously toying with people’s health on
its impossible mission.
The lessons for employers and leaders are
many. For one, listen to what the people on the
ground are telling you. They are privy to the
day-to-day machinations of a company, and if
something isn’t up to speed, they are often the
first to know.
The unwillingness of Theranos’ board to look
deeper into the company’s actions, financial
health and capabilities is astounding – despite
it being made up of former statesmen such
as George Shultz, and Stanford chemical
engineering professor Channing Robertson.
Also, beware the overarching organisational
mission. Holmes was unwilling to compromise
her rigid vision in spite of its impossibility, which
ultimately rendered the Theranos technology
ineffectual and unusable.
By documenting an extreme example,
Bad Blood shows how losing perspective
can have devastating consequences for an
organisation and its workforce, and potentially
the public at large. •••
GOOD PEOPLE, BAD
HOW WORK CULTURE
SAMUEL A. CULBERT
OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS,
Samuel A. Culbert, a UCLA management
professor and frequent author, examines the
systemic nature of management problems
and their roots in cultural habits. Reading the
first two parts of his manual may make you
cringe at your own behaviour – or at your
boss’s – but these difficult sections provide a
meaningful set-up and context for Culbert’s
recommendations for positive change. The not-
so-subtle title calls for initiating a productive
conversation with your boss when you’re ready
of Silicon Valley
John Carreyrou takes aim at the
biotech startup built on lies.
BY CHLOE HAVA
to implement the changes Culbert suggests.
getAbstract recommends Culbert’s intelligent,
workable method for H R managers seeking to
improve corporate morale, culture and internal
communications; to self-aware leaders and to
young professionals intent on moving up the
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a maturity, a
work, as well
Sarah Marshall, Engineering
Executive General Manager of
Nagham arrived in Australia in 2016 after fleeing Iraq,
with experience as a translator and business manager.
Since completing a CareerSeekers internship, she has
joined the Office of the Government Architect NSW.
23/8/18 4:40 pm
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