What I'm reading interview: Newgate Communications and Porta Communications boss Emma Kane on the book that changed the direction of her career

 
Francesca Washtell
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Emma Kane

As chief executive of Newgate Communications, co-CEO of Porta Communications, chair of Target Ovarian Cancer and chair of the Barbican Centre Trust, Emma Kane has an impressive roster of titles.


City A.M. spoke to Kane about the book she's reading, what's on her reading list for this summer and the book she was given as a gift that changed the trajectory of her career.

What book are you currently reading?

Damaged Goods by Oliver Shah. A very well written book that gives an insight into what happens when relationships and trust break down. It is a fascinating read although I feel there are many more chapters as yet unwritten.

What was the last book you read?

Sapiens, a Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari - this captivating book provides great insight into how we came to be who we are.

Do you have any books lined up for holiday reading this summer?

As chair of Target Ovarian Cancer, I am looking forward to reading Ursula Martin’s book One Woman Walks Wales, her astounding reaction to a life-changing moment when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and walked 3,700 miles... For late summer, it will be ‘Reading Between the Lines: What Your Handwriting Says About You by Emma Bache. Her book is out in September and, having used her skills in my business life, I will be fascinated to read more from one of the most perceptive, talented and hilarious women I know. I had the pleasure of listening to Jeff Immelt speak at the Global Financial Leaders Conference 2017 in Naples, Florida. I admired his boldness of turning up on the day that GE was under fire – I was given a copy of his book The New GE Way: Innovation, Transformation and Winning in the 21st Century by David Magee and hope that it will be fascinating too. And then there will be several books in my suitcase by Stefan Zweig who I am obsessed with. I may be being ambitious because it will be our first holiday with our two grandchildren, both under one year of age, but if there’s time, I’d love to reread ‘The Glass Room’ by Simon Mawer.


What's the best book you've read in the past five years?

How to Own the World: A Plain English Guide to Thinking Globally and Investing Wisely by Andrew Craig – I have read so many books and guides to finance over the years and this is without doubt the best. I bought a copy for each of our five children – so far two of them have read it and have put its wise words into action.

When do you tend to read?

I also read a lot in my role as chair of the Barbican Centre Trust such as Antigone by Sophocles or The Testament of Mary by Colm Toibin. Weekday night time reading tends to be copious amounts of poetry – currently it’s Let them Eat Chaos by Kate Tempest although I read it very softly so I don’t drive my husband crazy as it is meant to be read out loud!

What genre of books do you enjoy reading most and why?

Anything that gives an insight into the way someone else thinks and can inspire me to tackle an issue or embrace an opportunity in a more effective and creative way (or avoid making specific mistakes). I think it would be non-fiction though.

How many books would you say you read in a year?

Around 35 read ‘properly’, many more are skimmed.

Is there a book (or books) that have influenced your career?

Dine Out & Lose Weight by Michel Montignac – not because it is a great read (the spine remains intact) but because it was an unwanted gift from the chairman of somewhere I worked... he left it on my desk with the charming inscription – “pile on the profits, not the pounds”. It was the defining point of my career – the moment I decided to take my destiny into my own hands and start my own agency.

What book have you not read that you feel you should?

Our eldest, Dr Ben Rosenblatt, is the lead performance coach of the England football team. In 2014 he completed his PhD on “A biomechanical analysis of the principles of training in strength and conditioning for sprinting”...

What book, fiction or non-fiction, do you most wish you'd written?

It would either be Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase & Fable which has been in existence since 1870 and is full of wit and wisdom, culture, myth and legend… or perhaps the Harry Potter series because then I would be JK Rowling, a totally inspirational, talented woman and phenomenal philanthropist.



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