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Today J.A. Warnock reviews The Closer by Shaz Kahng. A physical copy was reviewed, it is 540 pages and would suit lovers of literary fiction and women’s fiction.
💫 Back of the book
The decision was irreversible, Vivien would become either the most remarkable female executive in the sports industry or the biggest failure. Vivien Lee has spent her entire consulting career helping CEOs look good, so when she finally has the chance to go after her dream of running a business, she grabs it. A lifelong athlete, Vivien arrives at the Smart Sports campus in Portland, Oregon and is introduced as the first female president. It’s one of the highest-profile jobs in an industry inhospitable to women. Principled but slightly naïve, Vivien believes her male peers will give her a fair shot. Stumbling early, Vivien makes a series of rookie mistakes. With guidance from the Ceiling Smashers, a secret society of successful professional women, Vivien learns to navigate the treacherous business terrain. A tight-knit group of male sports executives is determined to show that an industry outsider cannot prevail. The challenge is all too clear: will Vivien triumph in the sports industry against impossible odds? You’ll want to stay up all night to find out what happens to Vivien and share her inspiring story with your friends. This is a fresh, riveting tale about a strong woman endeavouring to succeed with smarts, scruples, and style.* 2017 Beverly Hill Book Award Finalist* Selected for Bustle’s “9 Fall Debut Books By Women Authors You’ll Want To Read Immediately”
Shaz Kahng has led teams in a few male-dominated industries. She is a retail/apparel chief executive who has previously worked as a research scientist, a global consulting partner, a builder of e-businesses, and a brand strategist. Shaz was one of a handful of female senior executives at Nike. She also ran Lucy Activewear and made the company profitable for the first time in history. She graduated from Cornell University and has an MBA from the Wharton School. Shaz lives in San Francisco with her husband and twin daughters.
💫Review by J.A. Warnock
I don’t often read the sleeve notes of books sent to me for review but must confess flipping straight to the back cover of Shaz Kahng’s ‘The Closer’ to try to work out what an ice-encrusted training shoe and ceiling smashers could possibly be about. Interestingly the author and her character are presented side by side and, given the similarities between them, I began to suspect that there may be some interesting insights and truths presented as fiction in the pages ahead. As a relatively senior female working in a male-dominated industry, my curiosity was immediately piqued by the promise of Vivien Lee’s journey through her own corporate shark infested custard. Despite some interesting experiences in my own career, I can assure you that my back catalogue of anecdotes has nothing on the stories that newest Smart Sports executive could tell.
‘The Closer’ is a pacy read that covers a fair amount of ground with no fluff or wordiness. At times I felt the acronyms, brashness, whoops and high fives were a bit much for my taste but, as they are probably spot on for the American corporate culture in which the book is set, I cannot really criticise Kahng for their inclusion. I enjoyed her style of writing which struck a nice balance between portraying various characters’ thoughts and motivations while pressing on with the story. It is refreshing to read a book with a strong female character who is both likeable and successful so the hours spent following the ups and downs of Vivien’s career in Smart Sports were most enjoyable. There are definite heroes and villains in the supporting cast so you may find yourself booing and cheering as the story unfolds. Well worth a read. Four Stars.
Some questions for Ms Kahng from J.A. Warnock.
- How many of the events in the book did Shaz Kahng experience in her own career? Specifically, do I need to start trawling the Discovery Channel?
- The book cover is as apt as it is unusual. What was the inspiration?
- What advice would she give to any budding entrepreneurs who find themselves inspired by Vivien Lee’s triumphs?
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