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!