From P.O.W. to C.E.O.

As a newly liberated POW of the Japanese, Loet Velmans returned from the Far East to Europe, and shortly thereafter set out for the U.S., where he was hired by John Hill, the founder of Hill & Knowlton, America’s largest PR firm. In telling the story of his rise to the position of Chairman and CEO of Hill & Knowlton, Velmans shares his unique perspective on the “culture gap” between nations. More

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About Loet Velmans

After surviving many narrow escapes during World War II and winding up a prisoner of war of the Japanese in Asia, Loet Velmans made his way from his native Holland to America with his young family. Starting as a young executive in the New York based public relations firm Hill & Knowlton, he was sent to Paris to establish a presence for the firm in Europe and eventually the rest of the world; in doing so he had to grapple with having to do business with his former Japanese captors. He was eventually called back to New York to become his firm’s Chairman and CEO. Upon retiring, he turned to writing; his war memoir, Long Way Back to the River Kwai, was hailed as a valuable contribution to the history of the war in the Pacific. His wife, Edith Velmans, is the author of the acclaimed Edith’s Story. They live by a lake in Sheffield, Massachusetts.

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