CIOs’ Favorite Reads of 2020

Bookshelves emerged as a breakout video-meeting background accessory in 2020. When technology leaders were asked by CIO Journal for the one or two books that deserved a prominent place in the background of their video feeds, a few, not surprisingly, suggested titles that dealt with the pandemic’s impact on business.

But the technology chiefs who responded demonstrated they were thinking beyond the novel coronavirus, with selections that offered insight on key business topics, such as digital transformation and innovation, as well as some of the big issues of the day, including gender and race.

Jim Fowler,

Chief Technology Officer, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co.

  • “Goliath’s Revenge: How Established Companies Turn the Tables on Digital Disruptors,” by Todd Hewlin and Scott A. Snyder (2019)

  • “Brave New Work: Are You Ready to Reinvent Your Organization?” by Aaron Dignan (2019)

  • “The Ethical Algorithm: The Science of Socially Aware Algorithm Design,” by Michael Kearns and Aaron Roth (2019)

“‘Goliath’s Revenge’ is a must-have for any technology leader that is trying to disrupt before being disrupted. Todd Hewlin and Scott Snyder give a great playbook for leaders to follow. ‘Brave New Work’ by Aaron Dignan is my go-to when I’m trying to reinvent the way I or my team work. Because more of my time is being spent every day on governance of data, my latest addition is ‘The Ethical Algorithm’ by Michael Kearns and Aaron Roth.”

Linda Jojo,

Executive Vice President of Technology and Chief Digital Officer, United Airlines Holdings Inc.

  • “The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution,” by

    Walter Isaacson

    (2014)

  • “The Memo: What Women of Color Need to Know to Secure a Seat at the Table,” by Minda Harts (2019)

“I reread ‘The Innovators’ by Walter Isaacson this summer. This book is a great reminder that innovation takes many forms and is often not immediately accepted. I especially like that the very first person profiled in the book is a woman, Ada Lovelace, the equally brilliant daughter of Charles Babbage. During a conversation with my leadership team about the impact that the social unrest after George Floyd’s death was having on all of us, one suggested that I read ‘The Memo: What Women of Color Need to Know to Secure a Seat at the Table’ by Minda Harts. I found it an eye-opening, educational account of the challenges women of color still face in the corporate world.”

Penelope Prett, Chief Information Officer, Accenture PLC
  • “The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail,” by Clayton M. Christensen (1997)

  • “Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard” by Chip Heath and Dan Heath (2010)

“IT today is all about creative thinking, culture and adaptation.”

Max Li, Global Chief Information Officer, Automatic Data Processing Inc.
  • “Ten Lessons for a Post-Pandemic World,” by Fareed Zakaria (2020)

“The book is a fascinating look at macroeconomic, geopolitical, health and technological consequences that may take years to unfold after the pandemic.”

Peter Settel,

Enterprise Chief Technology Officer, American Family Mutual Insurance Co.

  • “The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies,” by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee (2014)

  • “Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration,” by Ed Catmull with Amy Wallace (2014)

“Neither are new, but both hit on critical topics and intersections with technology, data, innovation, people and culture. As we work through and accelerate our digital transformation, both provided me insights to introduce into my own work, thinking and direction.”

Mark Spykerman, Chief Information Officer, AmerisourceBergen Corp.
  • “Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are,” by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz (2017)

“[A] must-read for a look at how data science and predictive analytics can have an impact on our society.”

Karenann Terrell, Chief Digital and Technology Officer, GlaxoSmithKline PLC
  • “Brave Not Perfect: How Celebrating Imperfection Helps You Live Your Best, Most Joyful Life,” by Reshma Saujani (2019)

“I finished this book in record time. It’s a great inspirational read that addresses the issue of young women in STEM, something I feel very strongly about personally.”

David Vidoni, Vice President of Information Technology, Pegasystems Inc.
  • “Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ,” by Daniel Goleman (1995)

    • “Post Corona: From Crisis to Opportunity,” by Scott Galloway (2020)

“[The book] ‘Emotional Intelligence’ by Daniel Goleman is my first pick. It’s a great book and even more important right now. ‘Post Corona’ by Scott Galloway is another great one. It’s been fascinating to see the accelerated disruption to so many industries, as well as the winners and losers and different perspectives as it related to public policy.”

Jeff Wong, Global Chief Innovation Officer, Ernst & Young
  • “COVID-19: The Great Reset,” by Klaus Schwab and Thierry Malleret (2020)

“[It] should absolutely be on every CIO’s bookshelf…[T]his book takes readers through the root causes of the pandemic, and how it has led to the need for a ‘great reset.’ Both sobering and enlightening, this book highlights ways that disruption has created a need for leaders to build a more resilient and inclusive world for the future, with collaboration between the private and public sector.”

Write to John McCormick at john.mccormick@wsj.com

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