World Book Day – a UNESCO-designated celebration of books, authors and reading that takes place in 100 countries on April 23 – helps to promote literacy and a love for learning. Supporting education is critical for advancing our organization’s philanthropic priorities including helping people reach their full potential and building strong, vibrant communities. To mark World Book Day, we asked BNY Mellon leaders from around the world, “Which book has had the most influence on your career or life and why?” To see our leaders with their books, click through the slideshow.
Gerald Hassell, Chairman and CEO:
In “Only the Paranoid Survive,” former Intel CEO Andrew Grove, who passed away in March, shares his strategy for dealing with massive change: never stand still. That directive is as relevant today as it was when it was released in 1999.
Laura Ahto, CEO, The Bank of New York Mellon SA/NV, Belgium:
One book I feel has influenced my life and professional outlook has to be “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!,” by Dr Seuss. This classic Seussian tale contains several uplifting quotes, which I feel really reflect the strong encouragement of my parents when I was growing up, college professors and mentors throughout my career. As a student at Ursinus College in Pennsylvania, United States, we were always strongly encouraged to be curious, engaged, and ambitious. An entrepreneurial spirit and a collaborative, positive attitude were key values which were instilled into us as soon as we landed on campus. These values were echoed by my mentors throughout my career who encouraged me to take a leap of faith and embrace new opportunities as they came my way. Continually learning, challenging and growing. And with this book re-entering the US bestseller lists each spring as the graduate gift book of choice, I’m clearly not alone in appreciating the value of the book’s motivational words!
Sammi Cho, Chief Operating Officer, Asia Pacific:
George Friedman’s enlightening book, “The Next 100 Years,” walks us through the last century with examples of how people tend to live in the present and fail to anticipate future events. The stage is then set to listen to his fascinating forecast for the next century, and realize that as unlikely as they may seem to us today, they are simply logical extrapolations of the world’s current geopolitical course. This book highlights the importance of vision and innovation in building the future today, which coincides with our focus in driving innovation through technology and our commitment in evolving for our clients.
Michael Cole-Fontayn, Chairman of Europe, Middle East and Africa:
John Donne was a metaphysical poet and I studied him and his contemporaries for English Literature A levels as a 16/17 year old teenager. Donne's Meditation ‘No Man is an Island’ contains some of his most famous lines. I have chosen this poem because it has continued to resonate throughout my own personal and professional life. It has also been a great source of comfort and guidance to me. Simply put we are all connected. The poetry is highly innovative and global in its inspiration. Although it seems like a sad poem when you first read it, understanding the idea that we are all connected and important – can help you be more concerned about other people. When something happens on the other side of the world, it still affects you. It’s okay to be interested in and curious about people you don’t know. It’s okay to be concerned about people you’ve never met. You, we, are all a part of mankind.
Monique R. Herena, Chief Human Resources Officer:
I frequently recommend “Mindset” by Carol Dweck. It has had a big influence on me in all aspects of my life including as a leader, parent and spouse. The main premise is that people approach the world with either a “fixed” or “growth” mindset. With a growth mindset, you interact with people assuming that they have the capacity to grow, rather than labelling and judging them as fixed. I find it to be an important reminder to us all to leave room for growth and optimism when we communicate with others and to see potential in the world. You don’t need to be in management or climbing a corporate ladder to appreciate Dweck’s book. Her insights are relevant across our relationships with others and inspirational as each of us strives to reach our full potential and have the right mindset to ensure we see and develop it in others as well.
Steve Lackey, Chairman, Asia Pacific:
I grew up in a household that encouraged reading for learning and pleasure. Last year, based on a recommendation from Bill Gate’s reading list, I read “How Asia Works” by Joe Studwell. Two other books that have contributed to my understanding of the region have been “On China” by Henry Kissinger and “Red Capitalism” by Carl Walter. Each of these books focused on the development, challenges and successes – economically and politically – that have resulted in Asia taking the lead in global wealth accumulation, intersecting directly with our aspiration as the Investments Company for the World to improve lives through investing.
Karen Peetz, President:
I am an avid reader of all things that may help me continue to learn, to improve and to simply try to be a better version of myself each and every day. As I reflect on what I found to be one of my most influential reads, I have to say it was “I Dare You” by William Danforth, the founder of Ralston Purina. I read this book in my early days as a Penn State student. At that time, I had the opportunity to represent the University at a camp retreat in Miniwanca, Michigan sponsored by the Danforth Foundation. At its core was Danforth’s believe that life was to be a balance of four key components – physical, mental, social and spiritual. To quote the author, “You have a four-fold life to live: a body, a brain, a heart and a soul … these are your living tools. To use and develop them is not a task … it is a golden opportunity.” It was a wonderful opportunity to spend time with other young women from across the country – all with lofty goals and the grit to pursue them. And it was the words of the “I Dare You” author that instilled in me the importance of balance and self-reflection. I encourage you to check it out!
Leonique van Houlwelingen, Country Executive for The Netherlands:
There are two writers who are my absolute favorites: Isabelle Allende and Khaled Hosseini. I have read all their books and each have impacted me in many different ways. The one which has possibly impacted me most and made me think about the extremes in our culture, especially gender equality, is “A Thousands Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini. I was deeply impressed by this book. The story is about culture, destruction, religion, beliefs, oppression, love and ultimately redemption. It is extremely well written and I literally felt the anguished feeling of oppression and the restriction on free movement. It made me realize just how fortunate I am to live in a free country like The Netherlands where men and women are treated equally. Freedom of mind, freedom of opinion, freedom of movement, freedom to be educated, are all normal things to me, but are far from normal for women in other parts of the world. All the more reason to continue to support organizations that fight for women's rights. Apart from this, it is just such a beautiful book to read – for men as well!
To see how our employees in the UK and Ireland celebrated World Book Day, read World Book Day comes early to Manchester.
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