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BW Businessworld

Deepali Naair, CMO, Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India

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What are you reading at the moment?
I recently finished reading 'The Professional', by Subroto Bagchi. This book showcases real people at all levels and their varied experiences. Bagchi elucidates in the book what is required to be an exceptional leader - the ability to deal with change and conduct one’s career with integrity. At the moment, I am re-reading some children’s books with my son. At the top of the list is Matilda by Roald Dahl.

The one book all leaders must read... and why?
Just the process of reading 'Blue Ocean Strategy' by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne, makes you question some of the paradigms that govern our thinking on managing businesses. After Theodore Levitt’s famous work 'Marketing Myopia' published in the Harvard Business Review in 1960, this book is another seminal work highlighting the importance of customer perspective and its application. The book clearly establishes that companies can succeed in the long term, not by battling competition but by creating “blue oceans” of uncontested market space based on consumer insight. The book also offers you exposure to a cross-section of case histories of company strategies. This is the top read I recommend to students when I teach at S.P. Jain Institute of Management& Research.

One book everyone in your sector should pick up... and why?
'Building Strong Brands' by David Aaker is a classic and single most useful book on brand development. The book is a great source of information for students, budding and senior marketing professionals. I recommend this book to anyone interested in building, maintaining and growing a brand. The book provides both theoretical frameworks and practical examples to draw up a document for your brand when you read it.

What kind of books would you normally buy while travelling?
While travelling, I enjoy reading books such as 'The Last Lecture' by Randy Pausch and books by Malcolm Gladwell. These books are a lighter read and the travel time gives you an opportunity to reflect on human or professional issues, which can have a far-reaching impact. I also read magazines such as HBR and the Economist while travelling.

The books you grew up with? What did you like most about it?
Where would I be without the books I grew up with. My love for reading was developed with an eclectic mix. While I read the full mystery series such as The Hardy Boys & Nancy Drew, my parents also ensured that I read Hindi language material and this was largely Amar Chitra Katha, Indrajal Comics and magazines such as Parag and Nandan. I also remember reading the entire Chandrakanta series by Devaki Nandan Khatri in Hindi before it became popular on television. These days my reading selections have moved on, but I still have a fond place in my heart for the books from my childhood especially 'The Prodigal Daughter' by Jeffrey Archer. My school principal, Mrs P. Paul gave me this book just when I completed Grade 10. The book’s protagonist Florentyna Kane is a woman with an indomitable spirit who in the book, goes on to become the first female US President. I was advised to read it to aim high in life.

Your book shelf consists of....
My book shelf consists of a wide variety of books such as 'Lean In' by Sheryl Sandberg, 'Our Iceberg is Melting' by John P. Kotter, 'Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography' by Walter Isaacson and 'The Tipping Point', 'Blink', 'Outliers: The Story of Success', 'What The Dog Saw' – all by Malcolm Gladwell The various genres include leadership, management, marketing and popular English fiction and non-fiction.

Where do you shop for books?
I usually shop for books online using both Flipkart and Amazon. I also make it a point to visit Strand Book Stall in Fort, Mumbai.

Have your reading habits changed in the past 4-5 years? If so, how....
Yes, they have changed in the past 4 or 5 years. The online material (articles) now have an equal share of my reading time. I have also taken to reading children’s books to ensure that some of the newer series and titles are appropriate for my son. For example, the Geronimo Stilton series and the Wimpy Kid series.

One book you cherish that you received as a gift... and who gave it to you.
A senior from school gave me my first copy of a Shakespeare drama, 'The Merchant of Venice'. The old copy was passed on to me to start my ninth grade studies during the term break. My first experience of the Shakespearean characters (Portia, Shylock and Antonio) inspired me to study English Literature in my graduation. That book was the beginning of my love for Shakespeare. I continue to believe that the characters and shades of emotions he has portrayed in his dramas are the best study in human psychology and behaviour.

Which is the e-reader you read on?
I prefer reading on Kindle while travelling. Else, I still prefer the print version.

(Compiled by Sanjitha Rao Chaini)