Books for the budding new grad: Business and economics

Inspiring reads to help you infuse deeper meaning into the work you do

As spring unfolds, so too do the petals of opportunity for a new batch of students. To help guide this graduating class as they venture forth to the next phase of life, we’ve gathered a bouquet of inspiring reads as reminders to embrace growth, do good, and find meaning in whatever path they may take.

To round out our series, we’ve collected a list of books on mission-driven finance, leading from a framework of inclusivity, feminism in the workplace, and more.

Winning the Right Game: How to Disrupt, Defend, and Deliver in a Changing World by Ron Adner

The basis of competition is changing. Are you prepared? Rivalry is shifting from well-defined industries to broader ecosystems: automobiles to mobility platforms; banking to fintech; television broadcasting to video streaming. Your competitors are coming from new directions and pursuing different goals from those of your familiar rivals. In this world, succeeding with the old rules can mean losing the new game. Winning the Right Game introduces the concepts, tools, and frameworks necessary to confront the threat of ecosystem disruption and to develop the strategies that will let your organization play ecosystem offense.

“This book is a powerful tool for executives leading transformations under uncertainty. I found myself reading it again and again for inspiration.” —Que Dallara, President & CEO, Honeywell Connected Enterprise

The Work of the Future: Building Better Jobs in an Age of Intelligent Machines by David Autor, David A. Mindell and Elisabeth B. Reynolds

The United States has too many low-quality, low-wage jobs. Every country has its share, but those in the United States are especially poorly paid and often without benefits. Meanwhile, overall productivity increases steadily and new technology has transformed large parts of the economy, enhancing the skills and paychecks of higher-paid knowledge workers. What’s wrong with this picture? Why have so many workers benefited so little from decades of growth? The Work of the Future shows that technology is neither the problem nor the solution. We can build better jobs if we create institutions that leverage technological innovation and also support workers through long cycles of technological transformation.

“This book provides a road map for how we can shape the future so that it is innovative, equitable, and prosperous. Leaders from every realm—business, government, education, and social organizations—have much to learn from this book!” —Ginni M. Rometty, former Chairman, President, and CEO, IBM

Cover of There's Nothing Micro

There’s Nothing Micro about a Billion Women: Making Finance Work for Women by Mary Ellen Iskenderian

Nearly one billion women have been completely excluded from the formal financial system. Without even a bank account in their own names, they lack the basic services that most of us take for granted—secure ways to save money, pay bills, and get credit. Exclusion from the formal financial system means they are economic outsiders, unable to benefit from, or contribute to, economic growth. Microfinance has been hailed as an economic lifeline for women in developing countries—but, as Mary Ellen Iskenderian shows in this book, it takes more than microloans to empower women and promote sustainable, inclusive economic growth.

“A comprehensive look at how to bring more women into the global financial system… An engaging and wide-ranging look at new developments in banking access.” Kirkus Reviews

Just Money: Mission-Driven Banks and the Future of Finance by Katrin Kaufer and Lillian Steponaitis

Money defines our present and will shape our future. Every investment decision we make adds a chapter to the story of what our world will look like. Although the idea of mission-based finance has been around for decades, there is a gap between organizations’ stated intention to “do good” and meaningful impact. Still, some are succeeding. In Just Money, Katrin Kaufer and Lillian Steponaitis take readers on a global tour of financial institutions that use finance as a force for good.

“This beautifully written book draws on a wide range of real-life examples to show us what mission-driven banking looks like in practice—and why it’s so profoundly important.” —Rebecca Henderson, Harvard University; author of Reimagining Capitalism in a World on Fire

Building a New Leadership Ladder: Transforming Male-Dominated Organizations to Support Women on the Rise by Carol J. Geffner

When it comes to the gender gap, it is not enough to ask women to “lean in” and demand promotions and raises. Organizations have an obligation to level up and provide women with more opportunities for advancement. In Building a New Leadership Ladder, leadership and governance expert Carol Geffner makes a strong case that for women to reach their full potential, workplaces and their leaders must take a more proactive role in combating gender discrimination.

“In this book, we hear directly from women leaders who have bumped up against the glass ceiling and who have helped other women climb up the ladder. Their lessons are essential for us to create the workplaces of the future—and the present!” —Julie Castro Abrams, CEO, How Women Lead

Combating Inequality: Rethinking Government’s Role by Olivier Blanchard and Dani Rodrik

Economic inequality is the defining issue of our time. In the United States, the wealth share of the top 1% has risen from 25% in the late 1970s to around 40% today. The percentage of children earning more than their parents has fallen from 90% in the 1940s to around 50% today. In Combating Inequality, leading economists, many of them current or former policymakers, bring good news: we have the tools to reverse the rise in inequality. In their discussions, they consider which of these tools are the most effective at doing so.

Inclusion on Purpose: An Intersectional Approach to Creating a Culture of Belonging at Work by Ruchika Tulshyan

Few would disagree that inclusion is both the right thing to do and good for business. Then why are we so terrible at it? If we believe in the morality and the profitability of including people of diverse and underestimated backgrounds in the workplace, why don’t we do it? Because, explains Ruchika Tulshyan in this eye-opening book, we don’t realize that inclusion takes awareness, intention, and regular practice. Inclusion doesn’t just happen; we have to work at it. Tulshyan presents inclusion best practices, showing how leaders and organizations can meaningfully promote inclusion and diversity.

Inclusion on Purpose shows how to build an inclusive workplace and culture through storytelling and practical frameworks. Whether you are a manager or you want to become one, this book is essential reading!” —Reema Batnagar, VP People, Pixar Animation Studios

Explore more books on business and economics from the MIT Press