Mark Ledden (1986, graduate) is a scholar of British Romanticism, and the founding Principal of Kenning Associates.
After gaining an M.Phil in British Romantic Studies at Oxford, Mark went on to a complete a Ph.D. in English at Emory University in 1996.
As a Professor of English at Emory, he taught courses on business communication and public speaking as well as on British literature. He also made a significant contribution to scholarship as co-editor of Romantic Circles, a refereed scholarly website devoted to the study of Romantic-period literature and culture.
After leaving Emory, Mark became a senior communications specialist for McKinsey and Company, an international consulting firm, where he served a variety of Fortune 500 companies in a broad spectrum of industries. Subsequently he founded Kenning Associates, a management consultancy based in Atlanta, Georgia.
Mark thinks that universities in the States could do a better job at cultivating relationships with non-academic employers and linking students with alumni working outside academia. ‘At a minimum’, he says, ‘they should drop the active antagonism some faculty feel towards business.’ While at McKinsey, he reached out to Humanities departments at schools like Duke and Vanderbilt, and even recruited at a South Atlantic Modern Language Association meeting. He also served as a mentor for a Woodrow Wilson Foundation program at Emory, to help Humanities Ph.Ds find non-academic careers.
Mark’s own academic background has served him well in his work as a consultant. He uses speech act theory and narratology as part of his executive coaching.
Mark Ledden on the importance of narrative:
“A lot of my executive coaching and organizational change work comes down to discovering and making explicit the stories people and groups have about themselves and others. A thing I have been saying recently to explain our interest in “stories” is this: Actions matter because they have consequences. Intentions matter because they are the only thing fully under our control. Stories matter because they make the connection between action and intention visible and malleable.”
“Stories matter because they make the connection between action and intention visible and malleable”