Business school: Books for CEOs and MBA internships

Recommend a novel for executives to read — with the management lesson it teaches
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Welcome to the FT Business school newsletter, a weekly serving of management wisdom, reading recommendations and business-related challenges. FT subscribers can sign up here to receive the newsletter by email every Monday. If you have any feedback about FT Business school, please email bschool@ft.com.

Andrew Hill's challenge

The FT's management editor sets a weekly test of your business, strategy and management skills.

When business leaders are asked what they are reading, they tend to default to non-fiction — often biographies and histories. As I argue in my column this week, they really ought to be reading more novels and short stories, which would improve their ability to take a different perspective and develop their empathy.

This week's challenge, then, is a simple one: please send me one recommended book — fiction only — together with the leadership or management lesson that it teaches. The address, as ever, is bschool@ft.com.Meanwhile, you can listen to the latest Business Book Challenge podcast — in which we discuss novels and business — here.

Last week, I asked for examples of how to prevent avoidable corporate crisesJim Boere, who leads a team of 17, puts his faith in "good and clear procedures", but also encourages his staff to share both their ideas and their doubts: "I want them to speak up, not gamble. I try to promote this by responding in a way that offers guidance and encouragement, and publicly, as opposed to harsh criticism and blame."

My further reading this week was dominated by grim accounts of the aftermath of the Manchester terrorist attack, but this Guardian article by Lucy Easthope, who prepares emergency plans, stood out. Among other things, it provides a sobering insight into the structured way such situations are managed. She also inveighs against the "business as usual" message from politicians. Sometimes, she writes, instead of simply bracing for the next atrocity, "we need to be given a bit more time to rage and roar like wounded animals".

Professor's picks

Every week a business school professor or academic recommends useful FT articles.

Kiran Jude Fernandes, professor of operations management at Durham University Business School, selects:

Home automation is a childish misuse of technology Smart home automation is clearly on the rise, but the article states that it is not necessarily the best way to make use of technology. Home automation is helpful for those with disabilities. But if you are able-bodied, then switching on the heating, for example, is fairly straightforward.

Business school students need to understand the impact of ubiquitous technologies on business operations. Examples of such technologies include RFID and mobile technologies — they have virtually changed every business operation from stock management to forgery prevention. Benefits from these adoptions have included higher productivity and agile operations.

Self-driving cars discover the limits of autonomy So far, there is no evidence to suggest that driverless cars are safer or it will provide a better passenger experience. The article states: "Cars that drive themselves could be easily weaponised, since they need only to be hacked."

Having fleets of electric vehicles may have benefits, but business school students need to understand that they are not seen as a panacea for traffic congestion and pollution. Even if these vehicles are totally safe to use, the difficulty is to encourage the public to become early adopters.

Jonathan Moules' business school news

Business school campuses are noticeably quieter places at this time of year as the razzmatazz of graduation ceremonies draws to a close. For MBA students halfway through a two-year course, however, there is no let up as they must now head off to internships.

These short stints back in the workplace have evolved in recent years as MBA students no longer only seek roles at large banks and consultancies. Some now take unpaid roles in tech start-ups, such as those found through the partnership London Business School has with the pan-European incubator programme Seedcamp, or placements on charitable projects.

The linking factor is that internships remain one of the main opportunities during an MBA to secure a full-time role after graduation. But how do you maximise your chances of success in this endeavour?

This week, I look at a couple of very different internship experiences and ask careers advisers for their best tips. We also get some advice for those interning at investment banks from Scott Rostan, an adjunct professor in finance at UNC’s Kegan-Flagler Business School.

Ask the academics

Got a question for leading business school experts? Send it to bschool@ft.com and we will publish the best replies in future newsletters.

Test your knowledge

How good is your grasp of the news? Test your reading of last week's top stories with the FirstFT quiz.

Compiled by Wai Kwen Chan

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