Editor's Choice

Beyond the Boardroom – What are CEOs reading?

By Business & Finance
26 March 2024
Stack of open and closed books on a table, with sunlight illuminating the pages, representing CEOs Favorite Books to Read

Successful CEOs are always interested in learning more about what motivates people and gleaning insights into the world around them. While much of their reading matter might consist of primers in market strategies, leadership and economic theory, their personal reading habits reveal a variety of genres and themes. Here, we take a look at some of the favourite, non-business, books recommended by our recent CEO interviewees which include gothic horror and a 1960s cult classic. 

Denise Charlton, Chief Executive Officer
Community Foundation Ireland

Denise Carlton headshotIn an increasingly divided world, Denise Charlton likes “The Persuaders – winning hearts and minds in a divided age” by Anand Giridharadas.

She said, “The book presents strategies used to bring people on a journey to change their mind, on a range of social issues. In an increasing polarised world, it is of great interest to read the various experiences. It highlights the need to listen and hearing where people are at, what is behind their beliefs and being ready to engage in real conversations to understand what informs and influence these views. It seems like an important book in the context of protecting democratic rights”. The book’s focus is on communication strategies for social change.

Click here to read the full interview with Denise Charlton.

Mike McGrath, Chief Executive Officer

Pictured Mike McGrathMike McGrath, CEO of Kwayga, turns to “Bounce” by Matthew Syed for a fresh perspective on talent and success.

He said, “Finding a non-business book in my collection is a challenge! As I spend time myself coaching kids, and Bounce shows you that training trumps talent every time, by explaining the science of deliberate practice. As a parent, it was also enlightening to learn from Syed that we need to adopt the attitude of praising commitment and perseverance, rather than defining skill as a natural talent. Over years, research has demonstrated that children who are encouraged and told that their persistence will pay off, are more likely to solve complex puzzles and problems”. 

In “Bounce”, Matthew Syed, an award-winning journalist and Olympian, examines our innate competitive nature—why we win or lose across various arenas, from sports to politics. In the book, he delves into how competition shapes our understanding of topics like biology, economics, psychology, and more, offering fresh insights into life’s complex games.

Click here to read the full interview with Mike McGrath.

Jonathan Grey, Chief Executive Officer
Ovation Incentives

Pictured Jonathan GreyJonathan Grey likes the thrilling narratives in “Dracula” by Bram Stoker.

He said, “Terrifying and riveting in equal measure. However, the use of English really stood out for me — it is an amazing piece of literature”. 

“Dracula” is a horror classic that introduces Count Dracula, a vampire seeking fresh victims and spreading his curse from Transylvania to England. The story unfolds as Dracula faces off against Professor Abraham Van Helsing and his group.

Click here to read Jonathan Grey’s full interview.

Cormac McKenna, Chief Executive Officer

Cormac McKenna CEO of Pharmacy connectCormac McKenna, CEO of online pharmacy app PharmacyConnect, finds timeless wisdom in Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird”

He cited “It’s a profound reminder of the importance of integrity and empathy, principles that are vital both in life and business”. 

“To Kill a Mockingbird” a deeply touching and dramatic tale, delves into the essence of human nature, exploring themes of innocence, kindness, and love against a backdrop of cruelty and hatred. This story was initially conceived as a simple love story, it is now celebrated as a cornerstone of American literature.

Click here to read Cormac McKenna’s full interview.

These CEOs, from various industries, reveal that their reading habits are as diverse as their business ventures. Their favourite books offer a window into their personal values, inspirations, and the broader perspectives that guide their decision-making.