Our 2022 Leadership Summer Reading List

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As part of our wellbeing series on taking breaks and taking time to disconnect, we have asked leaders from diverse fields across our global organisations about their summer reading list – and the power of disconnecting.
June 30, 2022

We’re halfway through 2022, and finally there is a reason to be (somewhat) optimistic. After two years of unpredictability, we appear to be moving out of the peak of the pandemic that has lessened our contact with colleagues and friends, limited our travel and ability to have new experiences, and imposed restrictions and regulations.

This “re-entry” means some continued unpredictability, however, as we adjust to going back to the office, back into airplanes, and hopefully back to summer plans. As part of our wellbeing series on taking breaks and taking time to disconnect, we have asked leaders from diverse fields across our global organisations about their summer plans. We’ve asked them to recommend books that inspire them, make them laugh, or provide a much-needed respite from the day-to-day hustle and bustle. Our hope is that this list helps you find new books to read in your down time and reflect and recharge for the rest of the year.

After all, taking time to disconnect is important for everyone, no matter their position.

Reshma Ramachandran, our Group SVP of Transformation at the Adecco Group, put it best: “The best ideas come when we are not in action. The daily work with teams and customers are very action oriented and it is important that we take the time off, switch off from the here & now and not only recharge physically but also mentally.”

Valerie Beaulieu, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer at the Adecco Group


Taking time off as an overall wellbeing strategy, not just during annual leave, is crucial for me because it helps me be at my best. I like to give 200% to my teams and the work that I do, but I would not be able to put all that energy into my work if I didn’t take time to recharge. With the boundaries between private and work space having been blurred by working virtually for the past years, it is all the more important to make clear rules for yourself and stick to them.

So, for example, as a rule, I don’t do any work-related activities during weekends. Also, I establish for myself clear routines during the work week to help me sustain a high level of energy and good mood. I think having these routines and safeguarding them is very important. We only have one life and we need to look after our health- both physical and mental. For me, it means safeguarding “recovery time” every day, by walking the dog with my husband, or setting time in my agenda for my weekly Pilates class, or just taking the time to cook dinner: everybody should find what is needed to maintain that inner balance and stick to whatever routine helps us be at our best in work, and in life, in general.

There are so many brilliant books we need to make time for. In the fiction space, I loved Yoko Ogawa's Revenge for the dark, lyrical beauty of the stories. If you are looking for an inspirational sports story, check out Win Forever: Live, Work, and Play like a Champion by Pete Caroll, whom I got the chance to meet. He is the inspiring coach who led the Seattle American Football Team to the Super Bowl.

Coram Williams, Chief Financial Officer at the Adecco Group


Disconnecting is vital: It gives us time to recharge and makes us more effective when we are back at work. I have several things that I do to disconnect. Firstly, I try and switch off my phone for periods of time at the weekend–preferably Saturday–and then I am fully present with my family. Secondly, I exercise. A nice run, or a good bike ride, are key to switching off the brain, and keeping in shape. Finally, I read. A lot. I tend to get through a book every couple of weeks. No matter how tired I am, I try to always read a few pages at the end of the day.

Coram recommends The Every by Dave Eggers, The Rabbit Factor by Antii Tuomainen, Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen and The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex.

Cynthia Hansen, Managing Director of the Innovation Foundation


I think that humans need a varied environment to thrive, and this means not only the physical space but also the way we occupy our minds and use our time. Taking time off allows that shift of perspective, change of speeds, and a jolt of difference that breaks the cycle of sameness. Without this, it is easy to keep running at top speed, thinking you are efficient, and believing you are keeping it all together. Once you pause and breathe, decelerate, and re-assess, things look different and there is suddenly room to create.

Whenever possible, I try to get out into nature, often with my family, away from the constant input and noise. Looking at the sports I love (running, cycling, skiing, hiking, etc.), they tend to be outdoor, can be alone or in a group, and require enough concentration to clear the brain of the constant chatter of daily life. This combination of mind and body works best for me.

I absolutely loved Fiona Hill’s There is Nothing for You Here because it is about personal and societal transformation, the power of education and the need to seize opportunity. It ends with a practical list of what you as an individual can do to open doors for those who are otherwise marginalized. Though it may sound heavy, it is a great read and made me an even bigger fan of Fiona.

Stephanie Pilon, VP Digital Marketing | Managing Director of the Berlin Tech Center


Disconnecting for me includes disconnecting from both work and even after work technology (late night emails or mobile browsing). When I actively make a point of cutting the tech, I find I am in a much better mood, I’m able to be more creative, think more clearly, and importantly fall asleep easier – which translates into being able to consistently perform day-to-day at work and at home. When we don’t disconnect it can feel as if we are constantly within an echo chamber of worrying news, social FOMO, or false sense of urgency to do a work-related task, all which cause even more anxiety.

I’m a lover of a good story, and I’m not afraid to put a book down that isn’t compelling me to keep reading. With that in mind, I find it hard to recommend just one, but rather, the concept of reading what keeps you reading. Some books I have truly enjoyed reading recently are:

Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanely Robinson, a novel about an organization that is formed to protect us from impending climate change. I couldn’t put this down and found some of the solutions really compelling (should it ever come to that!)

Less by Andrew Sean Greer, a satirical novel that follows an author around the world; I really couldn’t put it down and felt transported to wherever he was in the book.

Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez. I haven’t read this yet, but it’s next on my list. I listened to the 99% invisible podcast on which the author was interviewed, and it was mind blowing how everything everywhere has been designed for men. I’m really looking forward to digging in.

Reshma Ramachandran, Group SVP of Transformation at the Adecco Group

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“Disconnect” has a different definition for everyone. To me, it is simply getting out of the here & now. As human beings, we are very action oriented. And my definition of disconnect means simply getting out of the daily action. I do that on weekends as well, where I just lie in my garden on a good weather day and just read a book. Or on a bad weather day, sit on my couch and listen to some Indian carnatic music, that helps my mind travel far away from the daily action.

I am big time into reading and I read at least one book a week. So it is not just one book – these are a few books I can recommend for the summer:

  1. The Fearless organization by Amy Edmondson

  2. The First, the Few, the Only: How Women of Color Can Redefine Power in Corporate America by Deepa Purushothaman

  3. Inclusion on Purpose by Ruchika Tulshyan