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Books to get you back on track Back  
With days spent lying by the pool reading ‘The Da Vinci Code’ now just a distant memory, this month, to help you ease back into working mode, we take a look at some of the top business books on the shelves at the moment, including FT columnist Lucy Kellaway’s hilarious look at today’s office workers, ‘Martin Lukes: Who Moved My Blackberry?’, which almost qualifies as a pool-side read. This month’s reviewers: Gavin Hickie and Fiona Reddan.
Martin Lukes: Who Moved My Blackberry? - Lucy Kellaway, Viking Books, 2005
In Martin Lukes: Who Moved My Blackberry?, a satire on modern working life, we follow the story of a life in the year of Martin Lukes, a senior director in a mythical company, A-B Global.

Lukes was created by Financial Times columnist Lucy Kellaway, who has established a dedicated following for her column every Thursday in the FT, in which she pokes fun, through e-mails written by Lukes, at the ever-changing management fads and buzzwords of today’s business world, as well as offering a riotous look at the mundanity of office life.

The books presents a year’s worth of emails written by the personification of the highflying, management theory victim. Helped along the way by his career and lifestyle coach Pandora, Lukes applies all imaginable lingo and management techniques to both his job and his family. The trouble is that all of it is divorced from reality, and doesn’t help with the problems bursting forth on all fronts.

Lukes, who readers will find themselves comparing with David Brent from BBC’s ‘The Office’, soaks up management jargon like a sponge and regurgitates it to hilarious effect.

The only downside is that the book’s style of continuous emails can become slightly tiresome to read after a while. But all in all, it is a thoroughly enjoyable read, which anyone who has ever worked in an office should read.

The Greed Merchants - How the Investment Banks Played the Free Market Game - Philip Augar, Penguin, 2005
In the early years of the new millennium investment banks were on their knees. Beaten by the initial boom and subsequent bust of the dot.com bubble, mixed up in corporate scandals as well as being accused of uncontrolled and rampant conflict of interest, it seemed that the sun was setting for the masters of the universe. Then the banks bounced back. Pressure was taken off them by promises of new rules, higher levels of vigilance as well as the global rising markets. The investment banks had learned their lesson, paid their dues and worked hard to ensure a thriving market dominated by capitalist ideology was created and maintained for the benefit of everyone.

The Greed Merchants dissects the systematic transfer of wealth giving an incisive, well-informed and intriguing insight into the moneymaking industry while answering some important questions. Do the investment banks add value through their advice? Is there a cartel? Are there any alternatives? What will happen next?

Author Philip Auger has worked in investment banking for over twenty years. Among other notable achievements he was a member of the team that negotiated the sale of Schroders investment bank to Citigroup in 2000 before quitting the banking industry to write full time. His previous books include ‘The Death of Gentlemanly Capitalism’ and ‘The Rise of the Player Manager’.

The Unsinkable Entrepreneur - Enda O’Coineen, Mercier Press, 2005
Once a troubled teenager and eccentric sailor, now an entrepreneur and financier, ‘The Unsinkable Entrepreneur’ is the story of how Enda O’Coineen made millions in the financial services, telecommunications and information technology sectors of Central and Eastern Europe.
Desperate to get off the dole during the recession of 1980s Ireland, O’Coineen started his first publishing business, with yachting magazine, Afloat, as its flagship title. Since then he has refined his formula into a distinct business philosophy, applying it over and over again to more than 15 separate enterprises. He is now an established financier and presides over his own investment banking company and venture capital firm, Kilcullen Kapital Partners, whose activities include asset management, broking, corporate finance, mergers & acquisitions and advisory services. One of his interests is Irish mortgage firm, Simply Mortgages.

The book is part biography/part management theory, as O’Coineen draws on his own experiences to give potential entrepreneurs a taste of what is needed to hit the big time.

Some words of wisdom from O’Coineen include:

‘If the people aren’t right, either change them or get out.’

‘The moment you become over-confident and lose your fear is the moment you take a fall. Fear is healthy when channelled in the right way, and fear and nervousness even in a business situation is good because it makes you sharper’.

‘The entrepreneur is often more of a coach than a big chief. For starters, you’re trying to attract people better than you in particular areas, and therefore it can’t be a direct command structure, as in ‘I speak, you do’. That’s why organisations have many specialised executive posts in marketing, finance, human resources, administration, and so on. As the chief executive you cannot start issuing orders to specialists when you aren’t as qualified as they are’.

All You Need to Know About the City – Who Does What and Why in London’s Financial Markets - Christopher Stoakes, Four by Four Publishing Ltd, 2005
All You Need To Know About The City is a designed to help anyone who needs to know not just how the City works, but the global financial services markets in genearl. No matter whether you work in the markets, or are an interested bystander, the international markets affect you. But few people understand how they work or what the principal players do. This book demystifies them using very simple language.

An essential reference book, for both new entrants into the financial services sector and experienced professionals, All You Need to Know About the City explains everything that goes on in the City (and hence in the global financial markets in general) from alternative risk transfer, to dynamic hedging, and financial covenants.

The author Christopher Stoakes, is well placed to write such a guide, as he has worked in the City for 25 years, as a financial journalist, a partner in a City law firm, and latterly, a management consultant who advises City institutions on strategy and trains their staff in how the financial markets work.

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