Six Essential Business Books for MBA Students

A well-stocked bookshelf is an essential tool for any management student. While you will have a long list of reading for your classes, some extra-curricular reading can make all the difference in furthering your career, giving indispensable advice and interesting ideas to discuss in admissions or internship interviews. I have rounded up six best business books as given below.

Author Eric Ries has served as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Harvard Business School and he developed the idea for The Lean Startup from his experiences as a startup advisor, employer, and founder. The Lean Startup is based around the idea that to develop a good product, you should keep your customers at the forefront, starting with interviews, research, creating and testing Minimum Value Products (MVPs) rapidly to reduce waste and ensure a better market fit. It is a c-suite approved must-read for aspiring entrepreneurs. Former GE CEO Jeff Immelt made it mandatory for all his managers to read it.

The Effective Executive by Peter F. Drucker was first published in 1967, but the lessons inside are just as relevant as today over 50 years later. Peter Drucker was a management consultant, educator, and author whose writings have benefitted the modern business corporations in one or the other way. It is based on how a good executive can be a role model for other people. In his book, he identifies five key practices for the effective business management that include time management, setting the right priorities, focus on outward contribution, making your strength productive, and focusing on major areas where superior performance produces outstanding results.

Author and consultant Jim Collins undertook a five-year research project to produce Good to Great that explains how good companies make the transition to great companies and why companies fail to make the jump. Collins and a team of researchers sorted through a list of 1435 companies that made a significant improvement over time and finalized 11 companies to be included in the book including Kimberly-Clark and Wells Fargo. Through their work, they found the companies had many common traits leading them to the path of success. The end results provide useful insights on what should be done and what should be avoided backed evidence.

Brother Chip and Dan Heath have co-authored the book Made to stick. Chip is a professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and Dan is a Senior Fellow at Duke University’s Case center, which supports social entrepreneurs. The book discusses successful ideas, along with methods to make your own ideas stickier. Full of case studies and anecdotes, this book is a must-read for students who want to pursue their career in marketing, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

Journalist Adam Bryant interviewed over 70 CEOs for his book The Corner Office. He asked them to share their leadership insights including how they battled the adversities that made them rise above the rest. In his book, Adam Bryant also shares five personality traits that all high performers exhibit, and the ones that are valued the most when it comes to hiring and promoting future managers.

How to win friends & Influence People authored by Dale Carnegie published in 1936 is truly a classic read. Dale Carnegie advises on how to interact to make your personal and professional life more rewarding. Inside you will find plenty of practical and applicable tips to handle the people more effectively and efficiently.


Himanshu Goel
Research Scholar, Jagan Institute of Management Studies

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