Business

Here's how I'll be reading things this summer . . . .

‘Until Victory Always’ by Jim McGuinness shows that he’s clearly a high-quality leader - and a successful one at that

I WAS casting around at the end of last week thinking of the subject for this column. Little inspired me, even though there was at least one obvious candidate, the detail of the DUP-Conservative ‘deal'.

In my view, and making no comment about how the two parties found themselves in the position they were in, I see the deal as a good piece of political opportunism from the DUP that we all, in business terms at least, should benefit from. That's as far as I feel like taking it though.The bigger picture (for this wee place) is at Stormont and at time of writing, that vista is a lot less rosy.

So, what else then? Well, as seems to happen, I get to mark another significant moment with the timing of this column. On this occasion, it's the first column of the summer months. And so, I thought I'd tell you about my summer reading ambitions.

My second favourite paper on a Saturday (after the Irish News of course) is the Financial Times. The FT Weekend as it is titled is a brilliant read and a very different paper from the weekday version. The magazine ran a feature story a few weeks ago about the head of emerging markets and chief global strategist (you're nobody unless you have at least two big roles in the same company it seems) at Morgan Stanley, Ruchir Sharma.

Sharma is a best-selling writer and his second book ‘The Rise and Fall of Nations, Ten Rules of Change in the Post Crisis World' has just been printed in paper back. This wasn't any normal interview. The setting was Central Park in New York where the interviewer went to Sharma's sprint training session (he does four a week when he is in the city).

Of course, given that he works for an investment bank and is a best-selling author, you wouldn't expect Sharma's personal sprint coach to be anybody less than a former Olympic sprinter in the shape of Andria Lloyd, who won a bronze medal with the Jamaican relay team in Atlanta in 1996. Sharma was a sprinter in India where he grew up and despite being 43 years of age, he is still at it.

I wasn't aware of it at the time but Sharma's first book ‘Break-out Nations: In Pursuit of the Next Economic Miracles' was a best seller for its questioning of the hype around the ‘Bric' (Brazil, Russia India and China) economies. In it, he critiqued the idea that the long-term fortunes of disparate states can be usefully grouped together (a construct normally credited to the Goldman Sachs chief economist, Jim O'Neill, who coined the term ‘Bric' back in 2001).

Sharma's new book and one part of my summer reading ambition looks at emerging markets again, using some interesting filters such as people, the role of billionaires, how much a country gets hyped and the use of debt. It has been reviewed as a classic, I hope it lives up to expectations.

My second book is a very unusual one for me since I generally discount sports biographies. I love sport, but my experience of sports biographies is that they are usually badly written, self-indulgent and generally boring.

However, I've now reached the conclusion (without reading it yet) that this one may be different. It's ‘Until Victory Always' by Jim McGuinness (with Keith Duggan). A number of people have recommended it to me and even though it was published two years ago, it's still being talked about which says something about its quality, I hope.

I may be wrong, but Jim McGuinness, it seems to me, has trod a very single-minded path and his successful switch across to another sport (unlike for instance, Clive Woodward after he won a Rugby World Cup and failed to make it in soccer) makes him a very interesting character.

He's clearly a high-quality leader and a successful one at that. In the end though what moved me to actually buy the book and intend to read it is McGuinness' impending departure for Beijing as assistant coach to one of the biggest soccer teams in China. Fair dues to him - what a journey he's been on and he's still young, who knows where he might end up.

This summer I have a bit of a business journey to go on myself which will create some real challenges and hopefully open new doors too. Right now I'm not thinking about holidays but the work needed to make this forthcoming challenge a success, though I'll still do my best to get my reading done, and hopefully it will give me some fresh perspective or even inspiration.

:: Paul McErlean (paul@mcepublicrelations.com) is managing director of MCE Public Relations

:: Next week: Claire Aiken

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