Top 5 books to help with your MBA studies

The business landscape is changing. The path to success is changing, too. Getting ahead and staying relevant in this new business world needs a new kind of thinking.

Which is why we encourage students to support their learning with some reading of their own. This will bring fresh insights and new thinking into their studies and help open their mind to global business concepts.

Business books can open your mind to new ideas and ways of thinking. Books allow you to consume a huge amount of research in a relatively short amount of time, and is a great way to bolster your learning.

We’ve created a list of some of the best business books for your MBA:

1. The Lean Start-Up - by Eric Ries

This is more than a book - the author has started an entire global movement around the concept of a lean startup adopted by countless businesses around the world.

This book explains how startups can be more innovative, stop wasting people’s time and be more successful. Written by entrepreneur Eric Ries, who serves on the advisory board of a number of technology startups. Eric has also consulted with new and established companies and venture capital firms.

As it explains, the concept of a lean startup is not about being cheap, but about being less wasteful, and still doing things that are big. And the methodology has attracted global attention.

This is without a doubt one of the best business books to read given that one of the key learnings of an MBA is the ability to lead transformative business strategies across diverse organisations,

The book teaches the fundamentals of organising a new business model of fast and continuous learning by testing and experimenting, which was inspired by lean manufacturing. It also offers entrepreneurs a program to continuously test, adapt and improve, based on a scientific approach.

2. Like a Virgin - Richard Branson

Richard Branson is one of the world’s business icons. And if you’re studying an MBA, Branson’s empire, Virgin Airlines, will no doubt come up either in classroom learning, your own research or casual discussions with other students.

Branson’s book carries a cheeky title, claiming to contain all the secrets you won’t be taught at business school. But given what he’s overcome in life and the incredible business behemoth he’s built, it’s impossible not to have a positive image of this likeable larrikin of the business world.

Branson, who admits to being dyslexic and having attention deficiency disorder, dropped out of school at 16 and then quickly built the first mail-order company, a record company. Virgin Atlantic Airlines, soft drinks (Virgin Cola) and retail outlets, Virgin Me.

The book covers a range of topics relevant to your MBA including authentic leadership and leading in an age of digital disruption, making it an ideal read in your spare time.

3. How to win friends and influence people - Dale Carnegie

This book is an institution in the business world. The author was a salesman at one point in his life, rising through the ranks to a national leader for the firm he worked for.

Carnegie eventually ended his sales career and taught public speaking. Even one of the successful investors in the world - Warren Buffet, took his course at the age of 20.

This incredible book on human behaviour is one of the most successful books in American history, garnering a global following in the business world.

The lessons outlined in the now famous book have influenced millions of business leaders since it was published in 1936, and the principles can teach everyone better ways to do our job. It teaches how to be a better salesman and can be applied by business owners to handle demanding clients to win their over.

This is a great complementary read to your MBA course, where you’ll learn all about people and organisations and how to lead businesses and global companies in the digital age.

4. The Hard Thing About Hard Things - Ben Horowitz

This book is an important read for those in business because it gives insights into the challenges that may occur while running a business including employee layoffs, gaining loyalty from employees and customers and different ways to capture investors’ attention.

Horowitz is a technology entrepreneur and co-founder of one of the most successful venture capital firms in Silicon Valley. He steps readers through his own war stories to show that the right things are the same as the hard things.

The book is the ideal read for MBA students as they prepare themselves for the future business world and gain the skills and mindset to embrace non-stop change. It will give you great insights into defining a future leader and really support your learning.

Not only that, this book is recommended by some of the luminaries of the business world, including Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Larry Page (Google) and Peter Thiel (PayPal).

5. Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More Without Settling for Less - Robert I. Sutton

This book tackles a challenge every business faces- scaling up further and faster and creating a larger footprint. The authors draw on inside accounts and case studies from a wealth of industry sectors to identify the key scaling challenges that confront every organisation at some time or another.

The book tackles the difficult trade-offs and reveals how the best leaders and teams develop, spread and instil the right mindsets in their people to get the best out of them in business. The book also unpacks the principles to help to cascade excellence throughout an organisation.

On the required reading list at Harvard Business School, the principles outlined in this book are based on interviews, case studies and academic research. It’s a great choice for MBA students given one of the key things you’ll be learning will be how to navigate emerging technologies to deliver value and growth.

We suggest that  MBA students pick up a copy of these books to digest while commuting to and from your course, and at home on weekends. Because the leaders of the future will need to prepare themselves to tackle the challenges and complexities of Industry 4.0 and beyond.

While this is by no means a definitive list, reading the above books is a great start.

Learn more about RMIT Online's MBA, made for industry 4.0 - Get in touch with our Enrolment team on 1300 701 171.