8 must-read books  for an MBA aspirant

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A career perspective – Remember, you aren’t reading all content and material because you want to join just one rewarding and purpose-oriented MBA program. You’re doing it because you want to give yourself a strong foundation & a career that would help you serve many successful companies in the near term, maybe even starting your own business venture.

One important task that each MBA aspirant should do is read a lot. This will help in gaining knowledge to combat a dynamic business environment and become great managers. These books provide the information required to help in your career. There is a wide availability of a variety of management books ranging from people management to management tips, the autobiography of influential managers to managing capital.

As an industry professional and now in academia with over 24 years of my professional career majorly across Banking & Financial Services Industry, Product Manufacturing Industries across different markets , I consider myself fortunate to have experienced highly ‘regulatory’ & ‘deadline oriented workplaces’ which were equally vibrant and absolutely excitingly positioned in delivering many successful products & services, of course, through well formulated strategies & robust bottom –line management practices .

Guess working at a Senior Management position and reporting to the CEO along with the Board of Directors meant staying responsible and accountable while engaging and collaborating with best analytical minds in the Business. What’s more, in an intensely cut-throat international environment it was mandatory to gain immediate exposure & necessary expertise on areas related to – Asset Management/ Investment Valuation, Risk Control & Corporate Governance, Finance, Product & Marketing Strategies, Hiring & Retaining Talent, Data-Driven Decision Making and frequently Managing Disruptions & Hyper-growth Strategies.

Here’s my recommended list of books for an MBA aspirant…who wishes to taste success and move ahead

Investment Valuation: Tools & Techniques for determining the Value of Any Asset by Aswath Damodaran and Valuation:- Measuring & Managing the Value of Companies by Tim Koller, Marc Goedhart, David Wessels& Mckinsey & Co.

Management Books for MBA

Investment Valuation


Management Books for MBA

Both books are musts when it comes to applying investment valuation techniques, detailing discounted cash flow models and relative valuation models.  They cover the same topics but serve as companions to each other because one discusses some critical points not covered by the other.  For instance, Investment Valuation has a chapter on equity of distressed companies, while Valuation discusses “valuing flexibility.


Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors by Michael E Porter

Management Books for MBA

Porter’s analysis of industries captures the complexity of competition through five underlying forces: the power of buyers, the power of suppliers, rivalry, the threat of new entrants, and the threat of substitutions.  Additionally, Porter introduces one of the most powerful competitive tools yet developed: His three generic strategies — lowest cost, differentiation, and focus — that structure the task of strategic positioning.  A must for finance professionals, this book helps an equity analyst understand how a company creates and undermines its competitive advantage.


The secret of Economic Indicators – Bernard Baumohl

Management books for MBA

Great analysts are those who work on a more macro level.  Most equity analysts are expected to look at stocks from a bottom-up approach.  Those who can also look at them from a top-down approach have a competitive advantage.” — Drew Jones, former Associate Director-
Research at Morgan Stanley

This book talks about a broad array of economic indicators followed by Wall Street. The book examines economic indicators, how to view their influence on the market and what they say about the future.


Management – “The Hard Things about Hard Things by Ben Horowitz

Management books for MBA

This is the one book on the list that I think everyone needs to read, regardless of whether or not they’re an MBA student or working at a startup. It was recommended by more than one of the executives as it provides greatest insights on particularly challenging moments of running and leading a business, like hiring and retaining the right people, laying employees off, and managing the politics that come with trying to simultaneously please investors, managers, executives, and co-founders.


‘How To Create Products Customers Love’ by Marty Cagan

Management Books by MBA

While there are many fantastic books out there on product development, “Inspired” was recommended for several reasons. The book also covers all the non-product challenges that product managers face, such as managing the often opposing goals of engineering, sales, design, marketing, executives, customers, and other stakeholders.


The Halo Effect: … and the Eight Other Business Delusions That Deceive Managers – Phil Rosenzweig

Management books for MBA

In this unconventional book, the author unmasks the delusions of the corporate world which affect the business press and academic research, including various bestselling books.

“The most pervasive delusion is the Halo Effect. When a company’s sales and profits are up, people often conclude that it has a brilliant strategy, a visionary leader, capable employees, and a superb corporate culture. When performance falters, they conclude that the strategy was wrong, the leader became arrogant, the people were complacent, and the culture was stagnant. In fact, little may have changed — company performance creates a Halo that shapes the way we perceive strategy, leadership, people, culture, and more,”


Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Management books for MBA

Thinking, even though something that we do every day-sometimes too much-is a minimally understood phenomenon. Nobel Laureate, Daniel Kahneman gives you the inside-out on the thinking process and helps you gain an understanding of how people(read consumers) take decisions.


Banker To the Poor – Micro-Lending and the Battle Against World Poverty – Muhammad Yunus

Management books for MBA

Muhammad Yunus is a Bangladeshi social entrepreneur, banker, economist, and civil society leader who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for founding the Grameen Bank and pioneering the concepts of microcredit and microfinance.  This is a true story of a nation a dream belonged to a visionary on total eradication of poverty from the world.

In 1983, against the advice of banking and government officials, Yunus established Grameen, a bank devoted to providing the poorest of Bangladesh with minuscule loans.  The Bank, based on the belief that credit is a basic human right, not the privilege of a fortunate few, now provides over 2.5 billion dollars of micro-loans to more than two million families in rural Bangladesh.

Ninety-four percent of Yunus’s clients are women, and repayment rates are near 100 percent. Around the world, micro-lending programs inspired by Grameen are blossoming, with more than three hundred programs established in the United States alone.


…. & now a Bonus …Saving the Best for the Last …here Is Book No. 9

How Would You Move Mount Fuji?: Microsoft’s Cult of the Puzzle — How the World’s Smartest Companies Select the Most Creative Thinkers 

Management books for MBA

For years, Microsoft and other high-tech companies have been posing riddles and logic puzzles like these in their notoriously grueling job interviews. Now “puzzle interviews” have become a hot new trend in hiring. From Wall Street to Silicon Valley, employers are using tough and tricky questions to gauge job candidates’ intelligence, imagination, and problem-solving ability — qualities needed to survive in today’s hypercompetitive global marketplace.

The author, William Poundstone reveals the toughest questions used by Microsoft and other Fortune 500 companies — and supplies the answers. He traces the rise and controversial fall of employer-mandated IQ tests, the peculiar obsessions of Bill Gates (who plays jigsaw puzzles as a competitive sport), and the bizarre excesses of today’s hiring managers (who may start off your interview with a box of Legos or a game of virtual Russian roulette).


How Would You Move Mount Fuji? is an indispensable book for anyone wanting to win out there…

 Readers are Leaders” and many top performers read a book chapter or a new useful article every day. Reading good management and self-help books is a quick way to gain many years of experience from a few hours of study. By learning some speed reading you can absorb large quantities of information in relatively small periods of time. The more you know, the less you need to fear.

“Knowledge is Power !!”


At Westford Univerity College, we have started an initiative called “WeSpeak”. With this initiative, we encourage our students to read a variety of books and present a synopsis to the audience. If you are an MBA aspirant in UAE, feel free to get in touch with us to know who we can become a catalyst in your career.



Post written by:

Dr. Raman Subramanian
Sr.Faculty – Finance, Banking, and Management.

Westford University College


Disclaimer: The facts and opinions appearing in the article are personal views of the author and not the official statement of Westford



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