Stories by Susannah Patton

When crisis strikes: why staying in touch is vital

On the morning of July 7, 2005, Kenneth McCrae left his hotel in central London and headed for Baker Street Underground station. It was a warm day and he remembers looking longingly across the street at the green grass and trees in Regent’s Park before heading down to catch his train. McCrae boarded at 8.42 am along with the millions who jam the city’s famous subway system each day. On a whim, he decided to take the Metropolitan line instead of the Circle line. It turned out to be a good choice. At 8.50, a series of powerful bombs exploded underground, and one of those seriously damaged a train on the Circle line, just two trains ahead of McCrae. Above ground, another blast would rip apart a bus in Tavistock Square nearly an hour later.

In sync with his CEO

In August 1998, with the energy industry reeling from a sharp drop in oil prices, British Petroleum PLC's CEO made a daring move. John P. Browne, the cigar-puffing, Cambridge-educated chief executive took over Chicago-based Amoco in a deal worth $52 billion, turning his midsize British company into one of the world's energy giants, in a league with Royal Dutch/Shell and number-one Exxon Mobil. Browne promised that he would slash US$2 billion a year from expenses--and that half a billion would come from IT, where he saw cost-cutting opportunities from overlapping staffs and systems. The acquisition set off a wave of industry consolidation as U.S. business magazines compared Browne to General Electric Co.'s then-CEO Jack Welch.