Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010


There is a bit of role reversal in our books section, where Lord Hanson enjoyed the opportunity to write about the work of Sir Geoffrey Owen, the former FT editor. Hanson, in his time at the helm of Hanson plc, was one of the acquisitive corporate swashbucklers of the 1970s and '80s. He retired as chairman at the end of 1997. His famous takeovers included Imperial Tobacco, Allders, Ever Ready, Consolidated Goldfields and a similarly impressive list of US companies.


At 25, Mark Leonard lives up to that overused and rarely merited label of wunderkind. He is director of the Foreign Policy Centre, a new think-tank that seeks 'to revitalise debate over foreign policy in an increasingly interdependent world'. He won this posting after publishing a groundbreaking Demos pamphlet, Rebranding Britain, that caught the prime minister's eye and helped fuel 1997's talk of 'new Britain' and (not Mark's phrase) 'cool Britannia'. This month he reviews Oliver August's new book on Germany.


Acclaimed for her portraits and offbeat reportage, UK-based Australian Polly Borland is in demand among a host of British and US publications including the New Yorker and Fortune. Her work has been widely exhibited and in 1994 she won the John Kobal Award. Next year she will have an exhibition of prominent British-based Australians at The National Portrait Gallery and her first book, The Babies, a photographic study of infantilists, will be published by Powerhouse.


When not writing our Silicon Valley dispatch, Roger Taylor is US technology correspondent in San Francisco for the Financial Times. Before taking up West Coast living in the US in 1988, he spent over three years with the FT in London reporting on business and finance. A lover of music and sailing, he says it took him a week back in Frisco after his last London visit to stop putting on a tie for meetings, and another week to stop fretting about P/E ratios and start focusing on whether a business plan may be cool or not.


As MT's agony uncle, Jeremy Bullmore advises readers on topics ranging from recruitment to dealing with colleagues' lax personal hygiene. When not helping British managers to sleep easier, he is a director of the Guardian Media Group and WPP. Earlier he enjoyed an extremely long and distinguished career at the J Walter Thompson ad agency, where he was London chairman from 1976 to 1987; his views on the industry can be found in his book Behind the Scenes in Advertising.


Visitors to Clare Short's office normally get the sofa and she takes the right-hand armchair. But for this interview, the disarming Richard Woods (pictured here with his daughter) bagged the chair so she could have a fresh perspective. However, it was Woods, a regular Sunday Times contributor and former editor of its Focus section, who got a different view - finding not a left-wing firebrand but a cool customer with a global mission and a strong streak of pragmatism.

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