Lead Left Interview – Thomas A. Stewart

This week we chat with Thomas A. Stewart, executive director for the National Center for the Middle Market. The Center is the leading source for knowledge, leadership and research on midsized companies, based at the Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University. Mr. Stewart is an influential thought leader on global management issues and ideas: an internationally recognized editor and publisher, authority on intellectual capital and knowledge management, and a best-selling author.

The Lead Left: Tom, thanks for making time for us. First, tell us how you got to the position you’re in.

Tom Stewart: I was in the publishing business. In 1989 I left the book business and started working for Fortune magazine. I was there for 13 years—for the last two of which I wore another hat that included Business 2.0 magazine. I was mainly writing about big companies and their management issues. That had me increasingly involved with issues surrounding intangible assets and intellectual capital. I also wrote two book on those topics.

In 2002, I became editor-in-chief of the Harvard Business Review. I was there for six years. And then – in either a case of exquisitely bad or good timing, depending on how you look at it – I left in June 2008 just before the sky fell. I went to Booz and Company, the commercial consulting business that had split from Booz Allen Hamilton. I was their chief market and knowledge officer. I left just before that business was sold to PwC in 2014.

So I’ve been in the business arena for 20-25 years, almost entirely focused on big companies both global and public. Booz’s clientele were no exception.