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The Power Chase: A novel by Paul Batshedi More

TITUS MBUYA
The Power Chase
The Power Chase is a work of fiction. I must confess I have not read novels in a long while.

Lately, the little time that I get, I would rather use it to read an autobiography. Fiction is a genre that I am very fond of though, because of its entertainment value but also the escapism that it provides to the reader, especially during such challenging times as the current one that is characterised by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which dominated our lives over the last 12 months.

The Power Chase is the type of book that once you start reading, you don’t want to put down. What makes The Power Chase riveting, besides the twists and turns of the storyline, is the writer’s flair and the richness of the diction. The eloquent and elegant narration of this fast-developing story of a 30-something-year-old “young upward mobile urban professional” (yuppy), Sean White is what makes The Power Chase a captivating read. The storyline, which could easily have covered Sean’s lifetime, captures just under five years of his career as an executive in the cutthroat dog-eat-dog corporate environment in the commercial capital of the world, London.

Besides the central moral of the story, which is that the end does not always justify the means, and that ambition destroys the possessor, The Power Chase is a lesson in business management and leadership.

The writer has tapped into his wealth of knowledge and experience as a top-notch business executive and motivational speaker to canvass the application, or lack thereof, of the principles of those disciplines in The Power Chase. This is what makes The Power Chase a must-read for captains of industry, but also up-and-coming executives and even students of business and management studies.

It is self-evident from the storyline that the writer has travelled the world. There is no doubt that he has intimate knowledge of the various places and locations mentioned in the manuscript, whether it is in Europe, the Americas, the Caribbean, Asia, etc. As you traverse the compelling prose of the ‘The Power Chase’, time and again, you are taken on an adventure of some of the breathtaking sights and sounds across the globe and with the granular detail and impassioned descriptions of these features you can actually visualise them in your mind and be there, virtually! Actually, the ability of the writer to describe phenomenon, both animate and inanimate, in such vivid, spirited and distinct terms gives life and a sense of freshness to the ‘The Power Chase’ as a literary work.  

The writer successfully depicts the fast-paced impersonal lifestyle, especially in the corporate world, in that sprawling metropolis of London. Sean White, who is the main character, works for JVM, a multinational hospitality company with a global footprint. The company has regional offices in Dubai and Shanghai, China.

JVM, which is the ‘theatre’ where the story unfolds, is a 21st-century company in terms of how it functions and runs its business.

One way in which the writer projects this image is by infusing the utilisation of modern technology and means of communication as part of the culture of the lived experiences of the characters and the environment they operate in. This includes the use of video-conferencing platforms like Zoom, WhatsApp, as well as the use of various gadgets that are now part of our apparel, like mobile phones, phablets, etc.

The protagonist, Sean White is a young exuberant and gifted visionary leader whose main flaw is unbridled ambition. The much sought after Sean is employed as chief financial officer (CFO) by the multinational hospitality company, JVM, effectively making him the second in command after the chief executive officer (CEO).

White is well-connected and socialises with the ‘who is who’ of the corporate elite in London. One of his close associates, and mentor, is Sir Alfred King, the executive chairperson of Riley’s Properties, a multi-national real estate company. King is so fond of White that he intimates to him that he would like him to lead his company as CEO. White has everything going for him. It does not take long for him to be viewed favourably by his boss, the CEO, Andrew Smith because not only is he competent but also

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because he exudes strong leadership qualities. Like King, Smith sees White as his potential successor, and he actually tells him that in not so many words.

White is manipulative as he is calculating. He already sees himself as heir apparent to both King and Smith should they retire or decide to quit their positions. To say White was ambitious is an understatement. On one occasion, in a mother-to-son conversation with his mother, who was counselling him to take it easy and not be overly ambitious by wanting to be CEO too soon, White’s reply was, “Mum, I agree with you, the CEO position is not everything. In fact, for me, the CEO position is the only thing.” So, he would do everything he could to ascend to that position at JVM, even if it meant stepping on some toes. The writer weaves the storyline very well as he builds up to the climax. As fate would have it two mishaps take place which have serious ramifications for White’s dream to be on top.

White seems to have hit a dead-end in his quest to become a CEO. So what does he do? He is undeterred. He has his eyes firmly fixed on the prize and he is not going to allow anything to distract him away from his cause. He is not amused that the director of human capital division, Alexis Carter, is appointed acting CEO at JVM.

White is a genius and visionary but lacks emotional intelligence. He could not hide his disappointment over Carter’s appointment. Unbeknownst to White, there was a lot of goodwill towards him in the company, and in fact, Carter was already putting a proposal together for the Board meeting to recommend White to be acting CEO. But White was anxious. He desperately wanted the job. He lobbies the chairperson, Mr Blake and everybody else who mattered.

White undermines Alexis and projects him as incompetent and as someone who is out of his depth. Matters come to a head during the Board meeting when White distanced himself from the report presented by Alexis on behalf of management. Not only does this cause embarrassment to other managers, but also outrage amongst some directors. Some of the directors do not see anything wrong with White’s behaviour, but the chairperson and others are not amused at all.

It was after that meeting, which endorsed Carter as the acting CEO, that White showed his true colours as he engaged in all manner of shenanigans to dislodge Carter.

He tries, in vain, to organise a mutiny by senior managers. Carter, who obviously enjoys the respect and loyalty of some of the managers foils the insurrection. He threatens to take disciplinary action against White. But White, who thrives in conflict and controversy, is unfazed.

The Power Chase brings into sharp relief the intrigue and betrayal that are so common in the corporate world, something that Carter, and the most vocal director on the board of JVM, Dr Alyson Miles, soon realise. With all his faults, there is no denying the fact that White, who was such a polarising figure at JVM, had what it takes to grow the business to another level.

In The Power Chase, the writer has successfully woven a compelling account of a young gifted executive who had everything going for him in the corporate world but got consumed by an unbridled ambition to be at the top at all costs along the way creating many enemies.

The storyline in The Power Chase is brought to life through an infusion of first-hand accounts of travel and adventure, which are related most eloquently and elegantly that enable the reader to visualise the features and phenomena described, and I personally derived satisfaction from that experience.

In conclusion, The Power Chase provides a profound lesson in business management and leadership. The corporate world is replete with examples of companies, which have gone under because they failed to observe corporate governance principles.

The Power Chase highlights some of the do’s and don’ts, especially in the boardroom to ensure wealth and value creation for shareholders.



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