John Abram began his career selling industrial textiles to major customers in industries as diverse as mining; water treatment and pollution control. He was promoted to head the firma s business development functions in the UK, where he was responsible for introducing one of the earliest examples of automated customer management systems used in the UK. He was recruited by American Express in 1978 and appointed Marketing Manager, with responsibility for Cardmember recruitment and retention, as well as cross--sales of complementary products and services. In 1981, backed by a leading publishing firm, he started his own business promoting a range of products and services to entrepreneurs and business managers. In 1984, he bought out his original backers and took the business on to become a significant innovator in the promotion of investment products by phone and post, being the first in the country to sell personal pension plans direct to consumers. Paul Hawkes joined American Express Card Division in 1975 and subsequently became Marketing Manager for the merchant network in the UK and Ireland. In 1979, he moved to Time--Life Books and was promoted to become European Mark eting Vice President. In this role, he was responsible for mail order and retail marketing and sales, new product development and co--publishing relationships across 14 countries within Europe and Africa. He was a director of the British Direct Marketing Association and a Council Member of both the Association of Mail Order Publishers and the Mail Order Publishersa Authority; and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing. He is now a director of the Virtual Partnership Ltd. John and Paul co--founded Abram, Hawkes plc in January 1987. Over the next 13 years they built and managed the company to become the UKa s foremost consultancy specialising in marketing and customer management; or, more simply, advising and assisting organisations on how to grow revenues and build customer profitability. They sold the company at the beginning of 2000 to Valoris, a major European consulting firm. Their clients included many of the countrya s largest and most successful organisations, such as Norwich Union, Centrica, Switch Card Services, Thomas Cook, Lloyds Bank, MBNA, Visa, Barclaycard, Axa Sun Life, GUS Catalogue Order, and many others.