What business leaders are reading for the summer


There’s a mix of fact, fiction and fantasy for any downtime our company leaders can find.
Image source: Getty Images

David Ramadge, Managing Director, eBay Australia:

This summer, I’m going to be reading the fourth novel in an epic fantasy series, The Stormlight Archive. The book is Rhythm of War by American author Brandon Sanderson, published by Tor Books. The plot line would probably take 5,000 words to summarise but I love that he has invented multiple new complex magic systems and that it is intensely character driven. This appeals to me as both an engineer (great products appears magical!) and a people leader. Sure, I read business books and I learn a lot, but they have a tendency to burn me out. I like the escapism, mental health reset and amazing creativity of true fantasy and science fiction. Plus people can fly and conjure swords and stuff!

Ben Hutt, CEO and Managing Director, Evergen

Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life by Dr Jordan Peterson

Since childhood I have believed that ‘people make the world go round’. I studied psychology as an undergrad and have spent the last 20 years building or fixing companies, encountering people on every frontier. A couple of years ago, I read Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. I was shocked by how much the work validated experiences and perspectives on a wide range of aspects of life. Some of the insights are so simple yet powerful and can readily be applied in all aspects of our lives. This summer, I am excited to read Peterson’s follow-up, Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life. Together, I consider this essential reading for me as an individual, parent, employer and as a part of the community, and thoroughly recommend both works to everyone.

 Caroline Bowler, CEO at BTC Markets

The Accident, by Katie McMahon

“I read her first book, The Mistake, in one sitting. Reading is how I relax, and Katie McMahon writes clever storylines filled with fresh characters. Another great pager turner.”

Kristi Mansfield, Co-founder & CEO, Seer Data

The Creative Act: A Way of Being by Rick Rubin

I am excited to read The Creative Act: A Way of Being by legendary music producer Rick Rubin this summer. The work shares wisdom from a vibrant career supporting the creativity and innovation of others, something that is so relevant to today’s business leaders. We need to prioritise deep understanding of our people—their needs, wellbeing and personality traits—and build safe spaces for them to return to innocence from which innovation can flow.

Rubin has thought deeply about where creativity comes from and argues that being an artist is about your relationship with the world. He believes creativity has a place in everyone’s life, and everyone can make that place larger.

For those wanting to know the power of creating moments—and lifetimes—of exhilaration and transcendence for your customers and business, this book may offer insight into how that might be possible through the creative genius of people.

Gillian Savage, CEO of Acadian Asset Management (Australia)

Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen. I’m really looking forward to reading Jonathan Franzen’s 2021 novel Crossroads over the summer holidays.  Already a big fan of his writing (Freedom and Purity), the recent reviews explain how the book explores the idea of what it means to be good. In this day and age, I’m drawn to the ideas the book explores, such as the fragility of human life and the almost ‘sliding-doors’ type moments that occur in everyone’s life.

Systematic Fixed Income: An Investor’s Guide by Dr Scott Richardson. With the upcoming launch of Acadian’s Systematic Credit offering, I’m keen to read up on the strategy by the guy who is leading the charge in this space at Acadian: our new Head of Systematic Credit, Dr Scott Richardson. Scott’s book offers a powerful and practical framework for identifying the relevant sources of risk and return in public fixed income markets and explains the tactical and strategic roles played by fixed income in typical portfolios.

    Andre Viljoen, CEO Fiji Airways

    Vertical Growth by Michael Bunting with Carl Lemieux

    This is about how self-awareness can transform leaders and organisations. Since joining the company in 2016, Viljoen has transformed Fiji Airways by emphasising a “service culture” among other strategies. He says he is keen to know more to help further develop his growth mindset and the use of deliberate practices for better, more effective leadership.

    Cara Morton, Group CEO of leading global travel insurance provider Cover-More

    Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout – There is a certain something about some American writers where they’re able to capture the essence of life in small coastal towns and do so in a compelling way through the lives of the people who reside there. I understand Strout is one of those writers and I’m looking forward to seeing how the short stories on these characters brings the town of Crosby, Maine, alive.

    Surrender by Bono – Despite striding the world stage for decades, the U2 frontman, Bono, has always been a bit of an enigma to me and I am keen to understand his life story in his own words.

    The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt – The Secret History, Tartt’s first novel is in my Top 10 of all-time books.  The Goldfinch won the 2015 Pulitzer prize for fiction – it’s long and I understand challenging and I have been saving it up for when I can read it uninterrupted on a beach holiday 

    Joe Fussell, Chief Executive, AS White Global

    Building a Cyber Resilient Businessa cyber handbook for executives and boards, Dr Magda Lilia Chelly, Shamane Tan, Hai Tran

    “With daily news of cyber breaches flooding the headlines, boards are sitting up and asking, not if this will happen to them, but are we prepared to deal with it when it does happen. Building a Cyber Resilient Businessa cyber handbook for executives and boards, written by global cyber security leader Shamane Tan together with her co-authors Dr Magda Chelly and Hai Tran has helped make our jobs easier as CEOs.

    This practical handbook is great for CEOs or business owners to get up to speed on the key essence of building a cyber resilient business. It’s also a solid tool to gift to executives and boards; the set of questions at the end of each chapter is helpful to equip them on the crucial cyber risk questions they should be asking themselves and their peers. It can be quite revealing to an executive’s position and mindset when it comes to their maturity in thinking or dealing with cyber risks. CISOs or aspiring CISOs would also find this handy in navigating their relationship with different stakeholders.

    The chapters are written in a way that challenges the perspectives of each executive, with the goal to educate them on the keys in building a cyber resilient business. Effectively managing your organisation’s cyber risk requires the whole ecosystem and it is essential for all executives and boards to collaborate in this mission. I really enjoyed this book – it’s such a timely summer reading.”

    James Boyle, CEO Liberty Financial

    Leadership: Six Studies in World Strategy by Henry Kissinger

    I’m currently reading Leadership: Six Studies in World Strategy by Henry Kissinger. I wonder if any other living person would be able to write about such significant moments in global history and present them with first-hand personal insights of the individuals and circumstances involved.

    Kissinger has made a real gift with this book in sharing his experiences and observations on events that have shaped the world we live in today. It’s an exceptional account of history, but also a compelling story of six inspiring leaders that took on seemingly insurmountable challenges and prevailed. Whether you’re a leader, a learner, a history buff (or all of the above), it’s well worth a read.

    And when you get tired of reading, get moving

    How can you reconnect with activity if you have been stuck working all your life? Dr Gordon Spence makes it sound obvious – go back to the things you loved doing before you stopped moving.

    Get Moving Keep Moving recognises that mid-life is an intense, busy and productive phase of life, when concerns about career, finances and family can relegate physical activity and health goals to the backburner. From a healthy ageing perspective this is problematic because our ability to function well beyond 50 is based in large part on the platform we set before 50, says Spence. The book offers four stages to get sedentary people enjoying movement again enough to continue doing it and reignite their enthusiasm for activity. The sequel, 26 Ways to Keep Moving, is written by Spence and his son, Riley. It’s a book about people who love their chosen physical pursuits, says Spence. “They don’t think about their physical pursuits as ‘exercise’… they do them because they are an expression of who they are, fill their lives with meaning & purpose, & allow them to show up well in other areas of their life, most especially work.” Both books published by Longueville Media.

    It’s a book about people who love their chosen physical pursuits, says Spence.