Juan Jose Carrillo asks three IMD MBA professors for their book recommendations – and discovers a surprising range of inspirational titles to complement his academic reading.

If, like me, you love to read, you’ll know it isn’t always easy to choose a good book. As I browsed the shelves at my local bookstore at the start of my marathon preparation, I was spoilt for choice. Luckily for me, Nicolaas Heemskerk, friend, classmate, and an avid reader, recommended Born to Run by Christopher McDougal. It has been an enormous source of inspiration and has helped me push my limits – both in my marathon training and in life.

Receiving a good book recommendation is like receiving a fantastic present. Given that we are studying for our MBA and have so many inspiring classes from our faculty, I asked three of our most beloved professors to answer the question: “What is the best book you have ever read, or which book you would recommend to the cohort, and why?”

Book One

I started with someone who cares just as much about our personal growth as our professional development: Omar Toulan, Professor of Strategy and International Management and MBA Dean, who said, “One of the most influential books for me has been The Idea of a University by John Henry Newman. In it, he argues for the benefits of liberal education at a time when the industrial revolution and the rise of technical training were challenging the idea of a broad intellectual formation.”

Book Two

The second professor was Amit Joshi, Professor of AI, Analytics, and Marketing. “Wow, this is an incredibly hard question for me!” he laughed. “I love reading, so finding one single book is almost impossible!” After some thought, he recommended Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond. The reason? “It’s an amazing theory that tries to capture human development and history in one framework.”

Book Three

Finally, I asked Arturo Bris, Professor of Finance and Director of the IMD World Competitiveness Center. Again, he thought carefully about his answer. “The most influential book and the one I remember the most has been The Good Earth by Pearl S Buck,” he said. “I read it as a kid when I knew nothing, and it impacted me a lot. You will discover that it gives a great message at the end.”

At IMD, we already know we are required to read many books about business, but it is also good to complement those reads with literature that has another impactful life meaning.

I hope you get the chance to check out some of these titles. Happy reading!

Juan Jose Carrillo

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