A furiously busy week, with several days in Leverkusen alongside Amanda (Feldman), with Bayer MaterialScience. Great meetings with their CEO, Patrick Thomas, and new CFO, Frank Lutz. They are going through an IPO and searching for a new name and branding, which has been proving challenging, though the ‘People, Planet & Profit’ proposition is likely to be central.
Fascinating couple of days, working with Stephan Koch and a small group of key BMS sustainability and related people. Then a frustrating flight back, with delayed flight, endless lines for passports at Heathrow and then almost a shutting down of the M4 into London, though my lanky, white-haired Indian driver, Lofty, managed to sneak around just before the road closed.
On Saturday, we went across to London Fields, to see Simon Pemberton, an artist whose work we have enjoyed in the Financial Times. We had bought a new print of his, which is titled, ‘Preparations for the Next Life,’ showing a couple in or by a river, at night, probably in New York. I love artist’s studios, so had a field day, prowling around. Then on to Hania’s, just around the corner, for a lovely lunch, following a visit to Broadway Market which is at the foot of her road.
Have been working much of the weekend, meanwhile, on The Breakthrough Forecast, which is due to publish (or launch, given that it’s designed to be a website) in a couple of weeks, alongside our dramatised Board meeting, The Stretch Agenda.
Today, Andrew Winston came to lunch – and I enjoyed it immensely. First met him when we were both members of an HP Advisory Board, then flagged his latest book, The Big Pivot, as my top sustainable business book of 2014 in a piece I did for strategy + business. Failed to get him on a bus back to town at Barnes Pond, because they only take TfL cards now. So drove him up across Hammersmith Bridge, in a car that refused to work yesterday, needing yet another new battery. I love the Volvo V70, which must be around 15 years old now, albeit with just 45,000 miles on the clock, but there’s a gremlin in it, somewhere.
Another highlight of the week was re-reading Lionel Davidson’s stunning novel, Kolymsky Heights, first published in 1994. I must have read it around that time, though it seems to me that it was much longer ago. One of those books that continues to suffuse your brain when you’ve finished. Not surprised to see that Philip Pulman, another of my favourite authors, considered it the best thriller he had read.
Next, Philip Kerr’s latest, The Lady from Zagreb. Love his Bernie Gunther novels: have read them all. rarely read novels a second time, but could imagine reading them all a second time round. Inescapably, some of that era in my mind while in Leverkusen this week.