Friday, October 2, 2009

Jill Perrin - Human Capital Management

Jill Perrin - Human Capital Management

Jill is a Vice President with The Business Talent Group leading the complex process of helping businesses to find the skilled executives they need for defined projects. She has had a career that has included significant roles, principally in the area of marketing, with major corporations such as GE, American Express, Quaker Oats and Altria/Kraft/General Foods.

Jill's undergraduate degree in Economics is from Stanford University and her MBA from Harvard University.


I was born in Texas but went to college in California and graduate school in Boston and I currently reside in New Jersey. I have a 6th and 8th grader who love to read and I have been an avid reader since I was a kid. My love of books was driven in part by spending every night with my dad reading before going to bed. I was an Economics major in college. I bring this up as I really should have been an English major - I far better enjoyed my Literature classes than Economics (thinking about the strength of character possessed by Desdemona or Ophelia is far more interesting than pondering the multiplier effect!). I have had a 25 year business career - my love of books and reading has helped me learn to write well, a skill critical to my current role in Human Capital Management. (I feel certain that I subconsciously sought a work role which requires strong writing skills - skills developed in great part through my love of reading).

Which books did you read (or were read to you) as a child that you remember best and why?

I have a vivid recollection of reading both Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn out loud with my father. (I was about 10). And rolling on the floor belly laughing in the living room over the scene where Tom feeds his medicine surreptitiously to the cat, which in turns goes bonkers and clings to the ceiling etc. I read this scene out loud to my kids a few years ago - to the same affect. The humor was passed down through the generations.! We had tears streaming down our faces. And any of the Dr. Seuss books were great fun. A particular stand out is Oh the Places You’ll Go.

Which books had the most influence on your thinking and character?

Character - a tough one to answer. Female protagonists which were atypical were always neat. Pippi Longstocking comes to mind. And I can remember being enamored with Wrinkle In Time. The Alexander Dumas books have tremendous lead characters and a good deal of excitement - The Three Musketeers, The Count of Monte Cristo (one of my all time favs).

Are there any books you have read to your children which you would recommend?

There are a few magical books / magical moments related to books which come to mind. As toddlers I read the kids the book I'm So Busy Said Busy Bee which has a squeaky bee you push on every page when done reading. To this day I can use the same tone of voice and start saying "I'm so.... " and the kids immediately have smiles on their faces and finish my sentence using the same tone of voice. It was great fun. And it pulled the kids into the center of the book / the process of reading together - it was their "job" to squeak the bee at the end of every page. Ergo they had to pay attention, follow the story, and help catapult us forward.

Some books we loved at our home and read OVER and OVER and OVER again are: The Quiltmaker’s Gift, Harvey Potter's Balloon Farm, Max The Taxi Dog. These 3 are stand outs as the stories are wonderful, the visuals gorgeous, and are books parents don't mind reading time and time again. From school my kids were turned on to the Magic Tree House series (fiction and nonfiction so something of interest for all), Series of Unfortunate Events, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Once they started on any of the series they were on a mission to finish all. It went fast! My daughter (age 11) has a strong interest in plays and acting - I came across a WONDERFUL series called SHAKESPEARE CAN BE FUN which takes key Shakespeare plays, translates them into a rap / rhyming format understood by all and provides pictures drawn by kids with captions related to the story. (Captions can be something like: "Yo Othello! Why are you trustin' Iago - He's mean man! Get a clue!") These have been tremendous read aloud books for 3 - 5th grade.

Are there any books related to your profession or calling that you think children ought to consider reading?

If you want to be an actor or actress the SHAKESPEARE CAN BE FUN series I wrote about above is a must. (And a GOOD time)!

What books are you reading and enjoying today?

Just finished "The Geography of Bliss" - a man's journey to find the happiest country in the world. And am in the middle of "The Piano Tuner", set in Burma in the mid 1800's where a British general living in the jungle commands that a special piano be sent to the jungle. Subsequently he needs a piano tuner to voyage there from London to tune it - the tuner is a shy / non-worldly person who then voyages around the world and into the jungle (and in turn opens up an entirely new life). Am in the middle of The 19th Wife, a novel about Mormons.

A few additional comments for both kids and adults alike to foster a love of reading (and guard your time for reading): 1) join a book club - it is fun, pushes you to read things you might never pick up otherwise, helps to keep you accountable; 2)subscribe to a weekly news magazine that also has human interest stories in it such as Time, Newsweek, The Week - there will always be fresh stories of interest to everyone coming to your home each week. This will make it easy to read. (We FIGHT over THE WEEK in our house / run to the mail box, hide it behind beds etc.); 3)under no circumstances allow a TV in the bedroom. It is too much competition with a book. And the TV will always win; 4) if book shelves get sloppy or books are strewn all over the house - BRAVO! You have created a safe place for reading. Don't stress if a room or car is disheveled because of books spilling out everywhere. Call it a success. And pat yourself on the back.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Mary Adams - Management Consultant

Mary Adams – Management Consultant

Mary is a Management Consultant with the global systems and management consulting firm Capgemini. She focuses on marketing and sales to the Oil & Gas sector as well as project management and delivery.


I was born in Beaumont, Texas in 1959. The Great Aunt that I was named after, Mary Edna Bryson, was a high school English teacher and helped to instill a love of the written word in me, my sister and my brother. Just as she had done for my mother and her brothers as her first generation of nieces and nephews, every gift the second generation received from Auntie was a book with our name and the year written on the inside cover. For the past 21 years, I have been a management consultant for an international Information technology company. I currently live and work in The Netherlands.

Which books did you read (or were read to you) as a child that you remember best and why?

When my older sister learned to read before pre-school, I learned too. Maybe that is why the best-remembered book of my babyhood is Frog went A-courtin’ by John Langstaff. The book was based on an old English folk song and also had lovely illustrations. So I could see Froggy in all his finery (sword and buckle by his side) and I could also sing it at the top of my lungs! Double the pleasure, double the fun.

I was also very fond of the now-controversial book, The Story of Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman. I marveled at how clever the little boy was to give the four hungry tigers all his new clothes so they wouldn’t eat him – and then they chased each other around the tree until they turned into melted butter. As a child, I wasn’t really concerned with the color of people, but more the magical nature of things.

In the second grade, I had a teacher (Mrs. Bell whom I adored) who would read the classics aloud. I can still remember being enthralled with Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. Mrs. Bell had a wonderful voice and she transported me into another world. Each day, I could hardly wait to see what would happen next.

Which books had the most influence on your thinking and character?

When I was growing up, reading thrilled me. I was a voracious reader and joined every summer reading club and library that I could find. I absorbed the stories at face value – and I think it fed my innate creative nature of the art of the possible. I went through a number of phases about female empowerment. I was very fond of the girl detective series such as the Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden and the biographies of famous women, especially a series about the wives of the US presidents. Although I can barely remember any plots or details, I felt at the time that life could be mysterious and fun and maybe one day I could even become famous.

Because I had a tendency to swallow books whole and re-invent myself and the world with each one – by the time I started high school, I was really mixed up about who I was and what exactly I was doing here on Earth. I started reading the classic American novel (Ayn Rand, etc. ) and Russian novels (Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, etc.) and felt that life was full of misery and doom. Looking back, the influence of those books made me feel like I had taken on the weight of the world and I staggered through my freshman and sophomore years with my head in the gulag and my tell-tale heart throbbing under Poe’s floorboards. By my junior year, I had discovered Harold Robbins novels and the idea of the international wealthy and wicked. These books had a tremendous impact on me about lifestyle possibilities and that is how I came to spend the summer of 1976 at a study abroad art history program in Rome following in the footsteps of Dante for pre-college credits.

Are there any books you have read to your children which you would recommend?

I don’t have any children, so I am really out of touch with current authors. But If I would read something aloud to a child, I would read Dr Seuss books for the pure pleasure of the words rolling off my tongue like sugar candy. In addition, I would read poetry. I think that living in such a technological age that the art of the poem gets lost in the shockwave of the blog. Just get a big volume like Favorite Poems Old and New Selected for Boys and Girls by Helen Ferris. Kids should know about “Animal crackers, and cocoa to drink. This is the finest of suppers, I think; When I’m grown up and can have what I please I think I shall always insist upon these….”

Are there any books related to your profession or calling that you think children ought to consider reading?

Management consulting is rather like a communication art form that enables people to see their potential and act upon it. For those interested in this profession, I would recommend The Emperor Has No Clothes by Hans Christian Andersen.

What books are you reading and enjoying today?

For 20 years, I had the pleasure of being part of a book club that brought together extraordinary women together to select books and discuss them. Similar to And Ladies of the Club by Helen Hooven Santmyer , the magic of the books fostered friendships and life experiences. Since my move to Europe almost 10 years ago, this is one of the things that I miss most – how reading together brings people together… and sometimes it is the books that someone else chooses that we ourselves have overlooked that have the most impact. Whenever I write or call my friends, the first question is always, “What are you reading?!”

For now, I have returned to my girlhood days of reading mystery books in a series. The ones most frequently on my table from authors Lee Child and Steve Berry.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Andrew Keene - Management Consultant

Andrew is a Partner and Director of The LiTMUS Group in Australia. Prior to working with The LiTMUS Group, Andrew was a Partner in Ernst & Young Management Consulting and a Vice President in Cap Gemini Ernst & Young.

His work with clients in the financial services industry, consumer products, post, utilities, and the public sector has centered around the areas of customer relationship management, knowledge management and business process improvement.

Andrew is a Chartered Accountant with a degree in Pure Maths and Philosophy.


I was born in 1956 in a farming family in rural England. One of the family traditions was to go to the village library on a Saturday morning and choose books for the week, so I learned the art of choosing for myself early.

The books that I read took me to new places, and lead me to study Philosophy at University which left me with limited qualifications for anything useful, so I became a Management Consultant.

I moved to Australia where I became a Partner in Ernst & Young Consulting - and worked with Charles Bayless.

Which books did you read (or were read to you) as a child that you remember best and why?

My main memories were the books I discovered for myself. Although I am sure my parents read to me, I do not remember what. At aged 9 or so, I discovered the "Jungle Doctor" stories, written by a missionary doctor, Paul White working in Tanganyika. I had ten of them lined up on my bookshelf. I would read them all then start over again.

My next memory was discovering the adventure books of John Buchan - first Huntingtower, then The Thirty Nine Steps. There were other similar adventure stories, Masterman Ready by Captain Marryat, and of course Treasure Island - who can forget Long John Silver and the Black Dog. Later John Le Carre filled the same adventure slot.

In my early teens I found Tolstoy, first Anna Karenina then War and Peace - seems strange now, but I was engrossed with them. Then of course Tolkein.

There was of course the obligatory science fiction phase - Dune by Frank Herbert was a stand out from that time.

Which books had the most influence on your thinking and character?

I have a clear memory of a Saturday morning in the library at about 16 or 17 finding Local Anaesthetic by Gunter Grass - and being catapulted into a new world of fiction. I quickly read everything else by Grass -particularly The Tin Drum. Then off to Herman Hesse, Kafka and Sartre. For a boy growing up in a farming community in rural England, books like this opened new worlds.

The next adventure started with Lawrence Durrell and The Alexandria Quartet - still I recall at High School. That took me into the mainstream of English fiction. Graham Greene (I still love "The Power and the Glory") Evelyn Waugh, Somerset Maugham. From there back to classics, Jane Austin, the Bronte sisters, Thomas Hardy and Dickens.

My fiancé - now wife - introduced me to American fiction, first Hemmingway then Scott Fitzgerald.

I do recall worrying that I might run out of good books to read, when I discovered that there could be contemporary books worth reading. First for me was Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie, then Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey and A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth. The list goes on - Echoes of War, William Riviere, White Teeth by Zadie Smith, The Sportswriter by Richard Ford, Happenstance by Carol Shields, My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok……..I could go on and on…...

Are there any books you have read to your children which you would recommend?

An early favourite was Jesse by Tim Winton.

Harry Potter books work because they are good stories well told, I loved reading them to my children (then carrying on when they went to sleep).

One of my golden memories of parenting was reading Lord of the Rings in its entirety out loud to my children, who were then aged about 8 and 10. It took about six months of bed time reading. At the time my work was quite stressful, and I lived for the evenings with the nine companions.

My children learned to read themselves with books like Holes by Louis Sacher. There are some good Australian writers for children such as Morris Gleitzman and Paul Jennings. Misery Guts by Morris Gleitzman was a particular favourite.

I just surveyed my son (now 19) on what he remembers being read to him… Peter Rabbit, Winnie the Pooh, Roald Dahl, Lord of the Rings .

I have a great memory of a long car trip where we got To Kill a Mockingbird on tape and played it - with children about 12 or 14. They loved it.

Are there any books related to your profession or calling that you think children ought to consider reading?

I do think that The Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge has enough timeless truth to be appealing to at least teenagers who are prepared to think for themselves.

What books are you reading and enjoying today?

Right now I am re-reading The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien - according to Wikipedia, it was written between 1939 and 1940, but not published until after the authors death in 1967. So that must prove something - maybe we all have a great work hidden away somewhere.

I recently read The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak and The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini and was moved by both.

And of course I am hooked on the Number One Ladies Detective Agency!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Dr. John Jordan - Technologist

Dr. John Jordan is a clinical professor in the Department of Supply Chain & Information Systems at Penn State University, where he teaches IT Strategy in the MBA and undergraduate business programs. Formerly a principal with Ernst & Young/Capgemini, he directed research at the Center for Business Innovation then in the Americas Office of the CTO.

His work has been cited in the International Herald Tribune, Investors’ Business Daily, the Wall Street Journal, and Fast Company. John holds a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan as well as a master’s from Yale University, and graduated magna cum laude from Duke University. He is currently completing book manuscripts on global business model innovation, and on human-centric information fusion.

Which books did you read (or were read to you) as a child that you remember best and why?

Dr. Suess was brand new and we wore through at least two copies of The Cat in the Hat. My favorite, then and now, was Paddle-to-the-Sea, a gorgeously illustrated yet richly factual story of a hand-carved wooden canoe put into the water in the Canadian north woods that makes its way eventually to the ocean. I still know that Lake Huron looks like the silhouette of a fur trapper with a heavy pack on his back and Lake Superior is shaped like a west-facing wolf's head.

Which books had the most influence on your thinking and character?

Supermarkets used to sell encyclopedias a volume per week, but we never bought any. Since volume 1 was the teaser and we had freebies from two or three series, I read a lot about things that begin with A; atoms were a big favorite, but I had a harder time with astronomy. In 6th and 7th grade I also went to the big public library and read World War II books about the Normandy invasion particularly, but cannot remember any by name. Getting a PhD in history was no surprise given that start.

Beyond kids' books, Donald Hall, Fathers Playing Catch with Sons is truly wonderful and sticks with me as I transit parenthood. Walker Percy, esp. The Last Gentleman, so affected me that we named a son for him. James Agee, both fiction and non-fiction, was a vast stylistic talent who raised hard questions.

Are there any books you have read to your children which you would recommend?

Bill Bryson (In a Sunburned Country, Thunderbolt Kid, A Walk in the Woods); Artemis Fowl; Eva Ibbotson; The Runaway Bunny; Little House on the Prairie; Hello Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle; Roald Dahl; Where the Wild Things Are; Friday Night Lights; Ender's Game; Eppie M. Says; Leo the Lop; Eloise; The Happy Prince; Muffin Pigdoom and the Keeper; I Love You As Much . . .; Love You Forever. In young adult, we named our daughter after the girl in Catcher in the Rye, so it has to be included.

Are there any books related to your profession or calling that you think children ought to consider reading?

Foer, How Soccer Explains the World; McCourt, Teacher Man; Studs Terkel, Working; Chouinard, Let My People Go Surfing

What books are you reading and enjoying today?

Atul Gawande (esp. Better); foodie lit (Ruhlman, Buford, Bourdain, Pollan); Crawford, Shop Class as Soulcraft; Jan Morris, Coast to Coast; Coram's biography of John Boyd; Thaler and Sunstein, Nudge; Zakaria, The Post-American World.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

What were you reading and how did you become a reader?

Please let us know. See the Sample Submission for an example and a description of what we are looking for here. Respond in the comments section with your answers. Many Thanks

Sample Submission: Charles Bayless - Management Consultant

I was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma in October 1959. My father's career was in the international oil industry and so, after a couple of months, my mother and I returned to Venezuela where we were actually living at the time. With an older and younger sister, we lived all over the world while growing up: Venezuela, Houston, Libya, Nigeria, England (several times), and Sweden. My own career has been in management and systems consulting and included stints in Australia and again in the UK. I have three children.

Which books did you read as a child that you remember best and why?

For all that we moved a great deal and never had a large volume of household possessions, we did have a core collection of children's books that went everywhere with us. Among the earliest that I recall were Watty Piper's The Little Engine That Could, Judy Varga's The Dragon Who Liked to Spit Fire. Seuss' The 500 Hats of Bartholemew Cubbins was also a favorite. The anchor to our family collection of books was a multi-volume, Children's Encyclopedia which was divided into volumes of Folk and Fairy Tale, Tales from Distant Lands, Famous People, etc. Other picture book favorites flit at the edge of memory. Certainly there was a beautifully illustrated children's book of Bible stories at my grandparents which was happily reread over many summers. Also a realistically illustrated book of a chipmunk? squirrel? Something on that order. A realism which included, if memory serves, the rodent or one of its siblings being consumed by a hawk. Gripping! Finally, there was some much loved version of The Night Before Christmas.

As I grew older and could read to myself and pick my own books from the libraries of wherever we were living, I particularly recall reading and rereading Pippi Longstocking, Coral Island and Jules Vernes' Mysterious Island. Doyles' Sherlock Holmes was a hot streak of reading for a good long while as well. A handful of reference/science books also were solid standbys including the Time Life series and another book with a title along the lines of Can Elephants Swim? Bridging the gap between fiction and non-fiction, I can't overlook the Ripley's Believe It or Not! books.

Somewhere in here I also came across Walter Lord and his books, starting with his account of the the sinking of the Titanic, A Night to Remember.

As a young adult, in my mid teens, my father's favorite author was P.G. Wodehouse who in turn became a staple in my reading. I also read my way through all the works of the animal collector Gerald Durell. In these young teen years, I also read my way through any book on archaeology, or Egyptology in particular, on which I could lay my hands. Other favorites included Heyerdahl's Kon-Tiki and true adventure books of that ilk.

Which books had the most influence on your thinking and character?

Honesty wrestles with embarassment. While every book influenced me in some way and sometimes I can even remember in which ways, there was one book in particular that lured me into considering just which limits I might wish to accept of myself. Richard Bach's Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Not deep philosophy I know but it came across my horizon at just about the best age to make the most impact on me, perhaps thirteen or fourteen. I was fascinated by the implied idea of not accepting limits imposed by others.

Are there any books you have read to your own children that you would recommend?

Both I and the children have enjoyed most of the books by William Joyce such as Rolie Polie Olie, Bently & Egg, Santa Calls and The Leaf Men. Also books by the illustrator Paul O. Zelinsky such as Rumpelstilskin and Rapunzel. Others: When Jessie Came Across the Sea, and The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey.

Are there books related to your profession or calling that you think children ought to consider reading?

Unfortunately I cannot call to mind any books that have a management consultant as the heroic protagonist. Kind of a gap in the market I would say. But in terms of the path not taken, for many years up to the time of college when the practicalities of supporting oneself intruded, I wished to be an Egyptologist. While I read everything I could find in the field with unbridled enthusiasm and probably as little discernment, three books stick in my mind: C.W. Ceram's Gods, Graves, and Scholars, Desrosches Noblecourt's beautifully illustrated Tutankhamun, and Heyerdahls Aku-Aku.

What books are you reading now?

Books that I am reading right now and enjoying? There is always a stack of 20-40 books beside my bed, all to be gotten to at some time. A couple of books by Bill Bryson, Thomas Sowell's Conquests and Cultures, David Landes' The Wealth and Poverty of Nations, Dan Gardner's Risk, and I am in the process of re-reading the mysteries of Raymond Chandler and several of Georges Simenon. At least those are the books on the top of the stack.

Submitting your story of reading

Through the Magic Door is an internet children’s bookstore and community of readers with the overarching mission of making it easier for parents and teachers to identify those books most likely to appeal to a particular child at a particular time and with their particular interests such that the child wants to read yet another book. It is our belief that the sustained habit of reading is built by a sequence of books that are just right for a child at that point in time in their life. Our goal is to try and broaden the culture of reading (10% of the population accounts for 80% of books read or purchased today). Through its book sales, Through the Magic Door funds a range of programs and free services which support parents to grow a reading culture in their home and helps them to find the books that are just right for their child.

One of the demonstrated success factors for cultivating a reading culture is for children to see their parents and others that they respect valuing books by reading them. Through the Magic Door is launching a program, of which this blog is a part, where we ask people from all walks of life to identify the books that have been most pivotal in their lives. We hope to have answers from all the range of people doing the kinds of jobs and producing the kinds of things in which children might be interested: doctors, musicians, lawyers, firemen, artists, policemen, farmers, architects, nurses, secretaries, soldiers, mayors, teachers, scientists, politicians, mailmen, astronauts, athletes, etc. The responses of these individuals whom children look up to and admire will be posted on our site on a weekly basis. We hope to establish a sense among children of their being part of a greater community of readers.

At its easiest and most minimum, I would appreciate it if you might take five minutes to jot down the books that you best remember, found most entertaining or that had the most influence on the development of your thinking and character as a child or young person. If you would like to write any comments or observations that describe those books, the context in which you read them, or why they made such an impact on you, that would be most appreciated as I think it adds substance to young readers beyond a simple list. Any suggestions you have of books that you think might be of particular interest to children intrigued by your profession or calling would also be useful in steering them to a greater awareness of the opportunities they face.

We focus on children from newborns to young adults, ages 0 to 18, the time period in which the culture and habit of reading is most easily established. Your memories of books probably fall into three rough categories: Picture Books (ages 0 to 5 or so), Independent Readers (ages 6 to 12 or so), and Young Adults (roughly 13 to 18).

I very much appreciate if you would be willing to help support building a culture of reading by answering any of the following questions and allowing us to post those answers on our site for our members to share with their children. Please let us know how we can get in touch with you.

Which books did you read (or were read to you) as a child that you remember best and why? (picture books, independent reader, young adult)

Which books had the most influence on your thinking and character?
(picture books, independent reader, young adult)

Are there any books you have read to your children which you would recommend?
(picture books, independent reader, young adult)

Are there any books related to your profession or calling that you think children ought to consider reading?
(picture books, independent reader, young adult)

What books are you reading and enjoying today?

If you are willing for us to share your response with young readers, please let us know any biographical information you are willing to share that will give them some sort of context. When (year or decade is fine) and where were you born?, What do you do or what is your profession?, What are some of the highlights or adventures of your life? Do or did you have children with whom you read?

To provide your recollection of books please send an e-mail directly to or feel to respond in the comments section. I will format it for a post in the blog. If there are enthusiastic readers whom you know whose biblio-biographies you think might be of interest, please bring this to their attention.

Many thanks