The latest read from ex-SAS officer and former Canary Wharf HR director Joff Sharpe is based on the life of real-life rogue financier Florian Homm.
Reciclador: The Recycler follows Joff’s non-fiction read Who Dares Wins In Business, which combined his knowledge from his time as SAS Special Forces officer and his role as an executive at British Land – a £17billion real estate investment company.
The former Trinity Mirror HR chief – who worked with Piers Morgan – gives us the lowdown on his latest read, which follows the love story between medical school drop-out Yessica Sanchez and Swiss backpacker Marcus Hamm in Yessica’s home town of Medellin.
Marcus carries a deadly secret and after someone is murdered outside Yessica’s restaurant, the CIA, mercenaries and Colombian police are competing to secure the huge financial prize that they believe to be at stake.
What inspired you to write the book?
Economically speaking, novel writing is a disease. You work for hours over week-ends, give a lot of yourself and have almost no chance of making much money. But it gives you the chance to weave your own life’s experiences into dreams and have the fun of seeing whether other people can relate to them. Although Reciclador is not autobiographical, it is informed by a wide range of my personal experiences from SAS service to the world of private equity.
What’s the most interesting thing you discovered during your research?
People tend to associate Columbia with civil war, kidnap and narco-terrorism but that’s only half the story. The country has also given birth to Nobel prize-winning authors, prominent artists, film-makers and even Miss Universe 2015! It’s a country full of talent.
Did you visit Medellin as part of the writing process?
I spent time in Central America as a soldier but not Medellin specifically. Research isn’t difficult because so much video and documentary material is available. The narco-heritage of the place has caused it to be well-studied. Bizarrely, I have recently come across Medellin in a study of urban regeneration projects within the context of my “day job” as a real estate investor.
Why did you choose German Florian Homm as the inspiration for the main character?
I’ve researched all kinds of “rogue financiers” for Newsweek and other publications and Homm stands out for me as one of the most complex and outrageously colourful characters. It’s hard to imagine how any one person could combine high finance, thuggery, basketball, Harvard, Venezuela, Nazi relatives, ownership of a soccer club in one lifetime. And that’s just part of his list.
Is the financial world as flawed as it seems?
The City is hugely important to the UK and world economies. There are over one million people employed in the financial sector in the UK alone and the vast majority of these folks draw normal salaries and conduct their daily business with integrity. But for those outside the sector, it must seem that the financial markets sometimes appear weirdly disconnected from daily commercial operations. So, for example, the announcement of an economic slowdown in China can wipe £1billion off the value of a big company overnight, even when that company has almost no direct connection to the Chinese economy.
What can be done to change it?
The key lies in creating a great working culture within the financial institutions. If we have to rely heavily on governance, deterrent and punishment it’s already going wrong.
How have you made the move from SAS soldier, to real estate exec and author?
I like to be constantly learning and pushing myself to try and achieve new things. This may mean I also fail at more things than some people. However, I also notice over time that certain ‘red threads’ – for example, what makes leaders successful – appear to recur in incredibly disparate professions and circumstances. It can be powerful when you learn to harness these things.
How was it working for Piers Morgan?
When he discovered his HR director was ex-SAS he thought it was pretty hilarious. I thought he was Piers Morgan. We got on famously.
Can we expect to see more books from you?
If people enjoy reading them they will get more. The opposite is also true.
Reciclador: Recycler is available now on Amazon for £6.99.