Paperback: 288 pages

Publisher: Lightning Books (7 Sept. 2015)

ISBN-13: 978-1785630057

Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.5 x 19.7 cm


Douglas Board


Why is so much of the world managed by arseholes?

Why is so much of the world managed by arseholes? When workaholic business school hot shot Ben Stillman is fired, he has the chance to find out. Not a guy to sit still, Ben jumps head first into turning his former business school into a world-class madrassa of capitalism.

Ben has ten days to rescue the launch of its spectacular glass tower, and his own career – ten days during which he will have to confront terrorist plots, undercover police, the extravagant demands of the super-rich, and the only woman who can save him from this madness.

A satirical thriller, a love story, and a wry look at modern management ideology all rolled into one – MBA is a piercing yet hopeful enquiry into the meaning of success.


And the fight was over. While a shrug of Dianne’s shoulders re-arranged her breasts, her scent enveloped and re-arranged both men as if they were pieces on a chessboard. Now they were her two fighting cocks, presumably fighting over her. She smiled at Ben, and then Alex, resting one forefinger on each.

‘Ben is a very nice young man. Of course on a bad day that’s three strikes down – nice, young and man – but today he is our absolute hero. I won’t hear a word said against him. Now, Alex, come with me. London’s top colour specialist has come down. No pouting – you’re going to look your very best for the television cameras if it’s the last thing I do.




 London is being re-made. In 10 weeks the city’s mop-topped mayor, a one man Beatles revival with added bleach, will wave the Olympic flag in Beijing’s Bird’s Nest Stadium. Back home the construction of a twenty-first century stadium, velodrome and swimming pool has already begun. But the city’s re-making is much more than this. 

The first re-making is up. Skyscrapers are sprouting on the city’s face like a fungus. Southwark Towers − 24 floors of offices next to the south-east rail terminus − is being demolished. In four years’ time the 87 floors of the Shard will take its place. If you’re going places in London, you’re going up.

Ben Stillman is going up. He’s barely thirty and he’s chief of staff to a billionaire.

The city is being remade is back towards its centre. Everywhere people with money have been pushing out beyond their cities’ corsets, in London’s case the M25 orbital. In places like Johannesburg, after they moved they sent the removal vans back in to take their jobs with them. But most of the jobs that matter in London are still in the centre, and the people with money have come back to hug those jobs more closely. In London, the centre is the place to be.

Where Ben’s at in his career could not be more central. He is the hub of 26,000 people labouring worldwide in everything from chemicals and agriculture to re-insurance. Ben is Alex Bakhtin’s right hand.

The third re-shaper of London is glass. All the new towers are glass from top to bottom. Welcome to a new kind of power, which sees all and displays all. It has no need to hide.  Perhaps this power is modern and clean, democratic and accountable. But then a gust blows, a cable slips and a window cleaner’s fingers get caught in the winching gear. As detergent and blood smear the glass, we glimpse something older. The cable that once suspended a human halfway between heaven and earth was the divine right of kings.  

All-glass palaces: London’s new way to tell passers-by that they count for shit. You’re welcome to look in, because you’re so lowly that what you see has no consequence.


Given their role in shaping and propagating the ideas that govern all our working lives, business schools have for the most part unjustly escaped the attentions of fiction writers. All the more refreshing, then, to read Douglas Board’s wonderfully enjoyable dissection of the swirling currents of ambition, dissembling, power and fortune that are all too often rationalised away in textbook accounts of ‘leadership’. Witty and deeply informed, Board’s rich satire is nearer the bone of business than a lot of people would want you to think. – Simon Caulkin, management writer in Management Today, Financial Times Business Education and at

When the mindless, probably male, manager in your life puts you down, pick this up. Hilarious and spot on. – Sandra Burmeister, CEO Amrop Landelahni

Douglas brings years of deep business experience and breathtaking wit to a La Cage aux Folles-like storyline where a cast of capricious characters comically converge in a crazed climax. MBA never lets the reader go longer than a paragraph without a smile … and more often, a guffaw. – John C Beck, president of North Star Leadership Group Inc and author of Good vs Good, Japan’s Business Renaissance and The Attention Economy

Douglas has done what many great artists do: reveal truths accessibly. Read MBA once for the fun of it, and then again to ask yourself the hard questions it poses about leadership and success. – Fields Wicker-Miurin, board director and social entrepreneur


A must read for anyone who enjoyed Franzen’s Freedom or Eggers’ The Circle. MBA challenges and amuses with equal measure and makes you wonder about the impact of the Anglo-American dream. – Felicity Wood, deputy features editor, The Bookseller

This satirical novel is not just thought-provoking, it pokes your brain with a sharp pointed stick to get an explosive reaction. And the right reaction is laughter, constant chuckling coupled with a sheepish admission to self that MBAs are as full of bull as bureaucrats. Buy it, read it, then set a multiple answer exam on it. It’s a hoot. – Peter Sullivan, former Group Editor-in-Chief of Independent Newspapers South Africa

By focusing his farce on the business schools he knows so well, Douglas updates the campus novel and takes a big swing at the insincerities inherent in the ideology of neo-liberalism. – CM Taylor, author of Premiership Psycho,Group of Death and Cloven

A virtuoso plot and unrelieved bass-note of suspense whisk the reader through MBA with no time to fasten a seat-belt. Iconoclastic and LOL hilarious, this story unpicks the fabric of leadership and interrogates the murky motives of the über-‘successful’. Irresistibly funny and deliciously uncomfortable, MBA is a seductive cocktail of politics, human relating, banking, feminism, the dangers of intelligent underwear and so many other unusual bed-fellows. – Rosemary Lain-Priestley, author of Does My Soul Look Big In This? and Unwrapping The Sacred; blogging at

Thought provoking and very entertaining – a book every MBA graduate should read before going out to work. –Graeme Cooke, prize-winning MBA graduate

Douglas Board has produced the next instalment of a great literary genre: the campus novel. Instead of following thwarted historians, faux-radical sociologists or cynical literary scholars, Board uncovers a cauldron of corporate clap-trap, hubris and hard lessons which anyone who has been to business school will instantly recognise. –Professor André Spicer, Cass Business School


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Douglas Board

Douglas Board is the author of the campus satire MBA (Lightning Books, 2015), which asked why so much of the business world is Managed By Arseholes. Time of Lies, his second novel, is a timely exploration of the collapse of democracy.

Born in Hong Kong, he has degrees from Cambridge and Harvard and worked for the UK Treasury and then as a headhunter. He has also had a distinguished career in public life, serving as treasurer of the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund and chairing the British Refugee Council.

As well as writing fiction, he is the author of two applied research books on leadership, which was the subject of his doctorate. He is currently a senior visiting fellow at the Cass Business School in London. He and his wife Tricia Sibbons live in London and Johannesburg.

His most recent work is a free-to-download novelette, The Rats: A White House Satire.

Follow him on Twitter @BoardWryter.

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