Stefan Stern

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Full name: Stefan Stern

Area of interest: Business, finance, management

Journals/Organisation: Financial Times


Personal website:


Blog: | FT Management blog (frequent contributor)


Networks:!/stefanstern | LinkedIn | Facebook


About: Stefan Stern is the director of strategy in the U.K. for Edelman and was the management columnist for the Financial Times for four years prior to that. He has been writing and commenting on business and management for the past two decades. He began his journalistic career at Euromoney, becoming head of Corporate Finance magazine. More here

Education: Oriel College, Oxford: French and German

Career: Freelance writer for The Guardian and Observer, regular contributor to The Daily telegraph and Management Today, and New Statesman. In August 2010 joined Adelman PR as Director of Strategy

Current position/role: management writer and director of strategy, Edelman PR

  • also writes/has written for:

Other roles/Main role:

Other activities: visiting professor at Cass business school



Broadcast media:



Awards/Honours: Won awards for his writing from the Work Foundation and the Management Consultancies Association (Highly commended in the category for Best Management Article); Watson Wyatt Award for Excellence in HR Journalism: Executive Remuneration & Corporate Governance



Books & Debate:

Latest work:




  • No regular column


Financial Times:

Column name:

Remit/Info: Management

Section: Business life

Role: Columnist



Website: FT.Com / Stefan Stern

Commissioning editor:

Day published: Tuesday

Regularity: Weekly

Column format:

Average length: +/- 850 words

Articles: 2010

Articles: 2009

  • How to raise your game in 2010 -Following a year of high anxiety, Stefan Stern offers three practical ideas to help business leaders hav e a happier time next year - 22nd December
  • Leaves, snow – now the wrong managers - The performance of Eurostar chief Richard Brown is likely to go down as a case study in how not to apologise for a corporate disaster - 22nd December
  • Value added by best CEOs - Research shows that all the leading bosses proved their worth over an extended period, and not just in a brief time of good fortune - 15th December
  • Boardroom battles are breaking out all over - Few will worry if the cosy, country club board of the past is no more. But things may be moving too far in the other direction - 8th December
  • A question all leaders should ask themselves - After meeting Jim Collins, one of the great management thinkers, Stefan Stern dares to ask himself the question all leaders must face - 1st December
  • Drucker’s ideas stand the test of time - On the centenary of his birth, Drucker is still the one management writer that almost everyone agrees is worth reading - 24th November
  • Open your mind to the idea of innovation - Only complacent leaders believe their way of doing things cannot be improved, an attitude that can lead many astray - 17th November
  • Fond farewell to a brilliant thinker - The death of Russ Ackoff at the age of 90 has provoked an outpouring of regret and admiration for a management thinker who remained a too well-kept secret - 10th November
  • Big lessons we can learn from Little Chef - What happens at branches of Little Chef when Blumenthal and his camera crew are not there? That is the question that matters - 2nd November
  • Living strategy and death of the five-year plan - Strategy has changed. While eternal truths – about market position and scale – endure, a more dynamic approach is needed - 27th October
  • Failing to cope with change? - Managers can underestimate the difficulties of turning around business practices - 20th October
  • Blood, sweat, tears and an intense jus - 16th October
  • A new look at age-old questions - There are big prizes to be won by companies that lose the fixation on date of birth and instead focus on what people want and need now - 13th October
  • How to compete in an upside down world - Leading managers do not wait for crises to concentrate their minds – successful strategies will have left them better placed than their competitors - 6th October
  • Coming back from the dead - Bible class may be a distant memory in schools, but the prime minister may still consider the name of Lazarus worth invoking - 2nd October
  • Time for the socially useful manager - Managers might find Lord Turner’s recent remarks about ‘socially useless’ financial innovation a useful prompt to reassess their priorities - 29th September
  • Strengths become weaknesses - We need tough, strong, confident leaders. But how can we prevent them from spiralling out of control - 22nd September
  • Pay attention to employer brand - When it comes to retaining good people, or simply attracting new ones, your image and reputation count - 1st September
  • Masculine women, feminine men - “All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That is his.” – Oscar Wilde. But what would the great literary figure and wit have made of Caster Semenya, the women’s 800m world champion, who got home to South Africa this week? - 27th August
  • A matter of life and death - The public sector has no monopoly on bad procurement. Waste and incompetence beset the private sector as well - 25th August
  • I’m Alain, fly me (window or aisle?) - The writer Alain de Botton is spending the week at Heathrow’s Terminal Five to research material for a book on life at a major airport. Stefan Stern wonders how travellers will react to him - 20th August
  • Ending the healthcare malaise - Organisations should not be trying to maximise revenue but instead should be more customer-focused - 18th August
  • Never too old to flip a burger - Whether by choice or necessity, older workers are staying on at work or taking up new jobs. Now comes news that the hamburger chain McDonald’s is benefiting from some very grown-up employees - 13th August
  • No room for business as usual - What should the priorities for business be as the economic recovery takes hold? It is already clear what sort of recovery some people are looking forward to - 11th August
  • The rules of engagement - All is not fair in love, war and business, and a competitive spirit never hurt anybody - 4th August
  • Will you still fire me, when I’m 64? - Expect to hear a lot more about the ‘default retirement age’ (currently 65) over the next few months - 29th July
  • Change the way you work - Forget call centres, systems thinkers see the world differently: they start with customers and what they actually want - 28th July
  • Time to get your strategy right - It’s not just that markets have changed. Your organisation has changed. You may have all been through a near-death experience - 21st July
  • Ideas from under your nose - While networks of outsiders are a fashionable concept, those looking for innovation may find it closer to home, within the organisation itself - 14th July
  • All the sledging that’s fit to print - “Sledging” – low (and occasionally high) level abuse – is all part of the game. Steve Waugh, the former Australian captain, used to talk openly about planning the “mental disintegration” of his opponents - 10th July
  • Managers who act like owners - Extravagant restaurant bills and huge taxi fares might not endear you to the people you are supposed to be serving - 14th July
  • Survive company mergers - Business leaders will soon see opportunities for mergers and acquisitions even though getting valuation right is difficult - 30th June
  • Effective networks lead to innovation - You need to understand how informal networks can work to your benefit. This is where innovation will come from - 24th June
  • How to rebuild trust - Is trust a renewable resource? We have to hope that it is. If trust cannot be restored from its current sickly condition then leaders will soon find their task becoming almost impossibly difficult - 16th June
  • The undercover boss - The CEO went undercover in his own business, disguised as an office worker - 9th June
  • Successes and soap operas - Family businesses have some advantages, but emotions can run high at times - 2nd June
  • How to manage the clever squad - It is time to reframe the debate about talent and start thinking about clever people - 26th May
  • A model of action or agreement - Some leaders simply tell people what to do, while others try to build consensus - 19th May
  • Soar above the skyful of lies - If we are to manage the increased flow of information, first we have to learn to live with it - 12th May
  • Bully-boy school of management - The verb might conjugate like this: I am assertive, you hit below the belt, he is a bully - 5th May
  • Lasting appeal of interims - These managers can bring a fresh perspective and rejuvenate stale staff - 28th April
  • Four reasons to be cheerful - Leaders should not be moping about, feeling sorry for themselves and spreading misery - 14th April
  • Why a good job is hard to find - For those looking for work in these troubled times, there is good news and bad news - 7th April
  • Entrepreneurship can rescue us - As the risk averse withdraw, braver business leaders will step forward - 31st March
  • Managerial wisdom from the dug-out - “Part of my job is to make sure these lads keep their feet on the ground,” explains Sir Alex Ferguson in an interview in the New Statesman. The Man U. manager was talking about the much-changed life of the professional footballer - 25th March
  • Managing the mood is crucial - Tough trading conditions like these test character as much as business acumen - 24th March
  • Why MBA bashing is unfair - Graduates have made convenient scapegoats for the crisis taking place in world markets - 17th March
  • How to be wise before the event - The future has been postponed. Best Buy, the US electricals group, announced last week that it would not now be opening its first large-format UK store this summer, as originally planned - 10th March
  • Pubs can call time on last orders - Urgent action is needed to attract customers at a time when markets and tastes are changing - 3rd March
  • Not only Anglo-Saxons erred - One Anglo-Saxon size does not fit all, but nor does one Japanese, German or Indian one - 24th February
  • HR must raise its game - CEOs and other senior managers should focus more carefully on what they want from HR - 17th February
  • Engaging a worried workforce - Instead of splurging cash on employees you could try telling them the unvarnished truth - 10th February
  • The hot air of CSR - The truly responsible thing to do is to run a good business competently - 3rd February
  • Forget about popularity now - Doing what is necessary doesn’t make you callous, whatever colleagues say - 27th January
  • Doomed search for balance - We should rub out that firm black line that separates our lives and our careers - 20th January
  • Great leaders have great teams - Leaders cannot do everything on their own – no one should be truly indispensable - 13th January
  • Give me your attention - Everyone is wrestling with the problem of winning mindshare to support the growth of market share - 6th January

Articles: 2008

  • Wave goodbye to complacency - It is too late to avoid the now-deepening recession. But it is not too late to learn important lessons from 2008, and resolve to do better next year. Here are five thoughts to bear in mind in 2009 - 30th December 2008
  • The secret to survival in 2009 - The seemingly dreary business of car hire holds valuable lessons on customer service - 23rd December 2008
  • Messages lost in translation - Leaders’ ideas need to start flowing through businesses, and with minimal fuss - 16th December 2008
  • What’s the big idea? - Not everyone can be a leader. It follows that not everyone can be a thought leader either - 9th December 2008
  • Workers ready to deal - Strike action now will bring about mutually assured destruction for employers and employees. Pragmatic deal-making is the order of the day - 2nd December 2008
  • Slash ’n’ burn is not enough - Some companies are strong because of their market position, which is down to their people - 25th November 2008
  • Sales people must get smart - The old concept of the hard-toiling, road-warrior salesman has lost all relevance - 18th November 2008
  • Leadership lessons from 1955 - Some old officer training notes offer clear, purposeful and persuasive thoughts - 11th November 2008
  • Let’s meet when it’s over - Executives need to act now to forge a recession survival strategy - 6th November 2008
  • Stamp out those decisions that are too risky by half - Understanding risk, and responding properly to it, requires maturity and sobriety - 4th November 2008
  • Network like no tomorrow - Is your approach ineffective when you should network as if your life depended on it - 27th October 2008
  • The challenge of straight talking - Managing conflict can win a company greater staff engagement and boost strategy - 20th October 2008
  • What failed? Ask management - It cannot just be greed or stupidity that has led financial institutions astray but a lack of control and understanding and an unwillingness to heed warnings - 13th October 2008
  • A foolish race to the bottom - The recent sight of (former) Masters of the Universe hurriedly gathering up their possessions and heading for the exit brought the reality home - 6th October 2008
  • Stay onside with Wenger - Thoughtful and measured, the Arsenal boss has built stylish and successful teams - 29th September 2008
  • No hiding in misinformation age - These last few weeks have shown how vulnerable any company can be to the latest tittle-tattle and rumour - 22nd September 2008
  • Bosses with a thirst for change - East German breweries hold valuable lessons about understanding local markets - 15th September 2008
  • How to wipe out whistleblowing - Employers would do well to listen to the legitimate concerns of their workers - 8th September 2008
  • Gurus to one-hit wonders - Some enticing addresses can be as flimsy as a three-minute pop song - 1st September 2008
  • Beware of fad-loving analysts - With little real experience in business, some of the financial wizards in investment banks have been criticised for leaning too heavily on standardised solutions - 18th September 2008
  • Hell and high water with the light blues - A glimpse of the birth, development and management of an elite team getting ready to perform pressure in the university boat race - 13th August 2008 (book review of The Last Amateurs)
  • We should recognise value of BS - Ever since a verbal assault in the small hours a long time ago the BS word has held a special meaning for me - 11th August 2008
  • Keep up motivation levels through long summer days - Motivation levels are low, but this summer’s bumper edition of the Harvard Business Review contains an article promising to reveal ‘a powerful new model’ to buck up employees - 4th August 2008
  • Why I’m still backing Britain - It is no longer always clear that the great lurch to the east makes financial sense - 28th July 2008
  • Presentation skills on the slide - Today I am going to tell you about... This, the experts tell me, is the worst possible way to begin a presentation - 21st July 2008
  • The right place for mavericks - It has been a very disappointing year so far for the cause of innovation and entrepreneurshi - 14th July 2008
  • Diversity gurus must try harder - Is Siemens too German? Should a supposedly multinational corporation allow itself to be dominated by its home culture? - 7th July 2008
  • Put a lid on it, Boris - I am deeply concerned about the health and general well-being of Boris Johnson, the new mayor of London. I wonder if the pressures of the job aren’t getting to him? - 30th June 2008
  • The nature of ownership - You could hear the squeals of agony all over Mayfair. Whatever next? The UK markets regulator, the Financial Services Authority, had had the nerve to toughen up the regime on short-selling - 23rd June 2008
  • Success at work is a drug - “To every thing there is a season,” says Ecclesiastes, “and a time to every purpose under heaven. A time to be born, and a time to die...a time to kill, and a time to heal...a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance...” What would that gloomy old soul have to say about the life of the modern manager? “A time to work, and, er, that’s it.” - 16th June 2008
  • Change we can believe in - Profound and powerful forces are shaking and remaking our world, and the urgent question of our time is whether we can make change our friend and not our enemy - 9th June 2008
  • At last, some good news for leaders: you are not alone - It used to be the Ewings who livened up the boardrooms (and saloon bars) of Dallas - 2nd June 2008
  • Focus on value or pay the price - Hard-pressed brand manager, come on down! And welcome to tonight’s fun-packed episode of The Price is Right - 26th May 2008
  • When service comes with a snarl instead of a smile - You might think, with the growing threat of recession and with the constant arrival of new competitors, that businesses would be trying to improve their customer service at the moment. You might think that... - 19th May 2008
  • The write stuff - It is a familiar sight: the colleague who is forever working away at some lengthy document, which mysteriously never gets to see the light of day. But the alternative scenario is worse: the colleague who pulls open his bottom drawer, takes out a fat manuscript, and says: “Actually, I’ve been writing a book.” - 15th May 2008 (about the Business Book of the Year 2008)
  • No respite on the beach - What are holidays for? Most people would probably say “for rest and recuperation”. You take time out from work to get out of a rut... - 12th May 2008
  • Kipling’s wise words - A wise colleague once said: “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs, you have probably failed to grasp the seriousness of the situation.” - 28th April 2008
  • Y’s and wherefores of a multi-generational workplace - Matthew was one of my favourite colleagues. In the slightly drab office where I used to work, the arrival of young Matt at the corner of my desk usually meant the chance to relax for a moment with a frivolous comment or laconic quip - 14th April 2008
  • M&S shareholders should think before they speak - Dear Shareholder, You have asked me to explain my outburst of a few days ago, when I threw down my copy of the Financial Times and declared, to no one in particular: “Why don’t some of these shareholders just shut up?!” I am now writing to provide some detail of my deliberations prior to making that outburs - 7th April 2008
  • How to score a winning strategy - There’s a certain type of man – middle-aged, brought up in a Commonwealth country – who, when things are going really well, will get up from his desk and (when no one is watching) dispatch an imaginary cricket ball to the cover boundary with an elegant swish - 31st April 2008
  • Desperate sales measures - It’s getting bad out there. Banks have stopped lending. Customers have stopped buying. Toshiba, Siemens and EasyJet have all issued profits warnings in the past few days. Chrysler is shutting down for two weeks in July - 24th March 2008
  • Be yourself – but know who you are meant to be - When in doubt, turn to La Rochefoucauld: “Nous sommes si accoutumés à nous déguiser aux autres qu’enfin nous nous déguisons à nous-mêmes.” (Maximes 119) - 17th March 2008
  • The art of stretching employees - “What, me worry?”, asked the cheerfully gap-toothed and freckle-faced Alfred E. Neumann from the front cover of Mad magazine all through my youth. I wonder how long his outlook would last if he spent any time reading today’s newspapers - 25th February 2008
  • Lofty view from Davos could just be a mirage - Last week, some of the world’s most important people headed to Davos in Switzerland for intensive high-level debate and supercharged networking. I went to a presentation near Smithfield meat-market in London - 28th January 2008
  • Deception proves to be the real enemy of trust - You can’t always get what you want. No need to tell Guy Hands that. The new owner (through his Terra Firma private equity business) of the EMI music group found out last week that the Rolling Stones would not be releasing their next album on his label. The band may end its long-standing association with the company altogether - 21st January 2008
  • Time to toughen up and embrace the joys of conflict - OK, so it was early in the morning and they were very busy and I probably was in the way and perhaps the woman in question was having a bad day, but did she really have to shout at me like that? - 14th January 2008
  • May the forces be with you in 2008 - So, one week in, how is this “year from hell” 2008 going for you? Share price heading south as consumers start cutting back? Perhaps your senior team is even now planning a series of belt-tightening measures, bracing the organisation for the next miserable few months - 7th January 2008

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