Thomas A. Stewart is the Chief Marketing and Knowledge Officer (CMKO) of the global management consulting firm Booz & Company. Stewart most recently served as editor and managing director of Harvard Business Review, and is a best-selling author, an authority on intellectual capital and knowledge management, and an influential thought leader on global management issues and ideas.
During Stewart’s six years with Harvard Business Review, the magazine was a two-time finalist for general excellence in the National Magazine Awards, and received an “Eddie” in 2007 from Folio Magazine.
Previously, Stewart served as the editorial director for Business 2.0 and as a member of Fortune’s Board of Editors. He is the author of two books, Intellectual Capital: The New Wealth of Organizations, and The Wealth of Knowledge: Intellectual Capital and the 21st Century Organization, published by Doubleday Business in 1998 and 2003, respectively.
Stewart is a fellow of the World Economic Forum. He is a summa cum laude graduate of Harvard College, and holds an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Cass School of Business at City University, London.
Question: Who are you?
Tom Stewart: I’m tempted to say I’m an American, Chicago-born … said that better. I was born in Chicago. I’m a classic boomer, you know, sort of background. I was born in 1948. When we were six …When I was six years old … I was the second child of what became four. But when I was six, we joined the great American Diaspora to the suburbs. I was born in and around the University of Chicago. We moved … we moved to the suburbs. I had a fairly classic, suburban 50s upbringing with, you know, Boy Scouts and … and … and … and the desire to do the right thing and get to the right college, and so on and so forth. I like to say that because of the way I grew up outside of Chicago, I knew all of that great city’s museums and none of its bars.
When I was a junior, my father and I made this sort of the … the trip east to look at colleges. And we started at Oberlin and we started working our way east from Oberlin to Williams to Amherst … and came into Cambridge, Massachusetts on a March day when it was slushy and gray. And, you know, there were these streets that were not perpendicular and this dirty slush and buses. And we joined a friend of mine – who was a freshman at Harvard – for dinner and went to a place that still exists called Bartley’s Burger Cottage. And there, sitting down the … you know, four or five tables away, smoking a cigarette, was a woman in a dark top and a light skirt which was the shortest miniskirt I had theretofore seen in my life. And at that point I was set. You know, I wanted to be in the east, and … and be at Harvard and be a city kid. And really in a sense, in a funny way, that was the … I did get into Harvard. I was lucky enough to do that. But the transforming thing was … was that image of cities. Having had a, you know, a city childhood – I mean an early childhood – and then a suburban, middle childhood, that was the moment when I realized cities turned me on in every possible way.
Recorded on: 6/22/07
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