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!



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