Interesting reads that keep our favourite CIOs motivated and inspired


Discover some of the intriguing books that South Africa’s IT leaders are reading.

Books, whether fiction or non-fiction, have an interesting way of shaping how we see the world, approach our daily lives, and, in some cases, how we engage with other people, motivate them as leaders, or even draw inspiration from them. We rounded up some of our community’s favourites.

Books on individual routines, according to Karl Fischer, CTO at Obsidian Systems, keep him going. Mason Currey’s Daily Rituals: How Artists Work comes highly recommended. “Mason maps out the daily rituals of different people. I enjoy reading books on self-help or personal improvement,” he says.

Apart from Formula One, books on business philosophy and quantum mechanics stimulate Josh Souchon’s mind and transport him back to his university days of building or at least conceptualising machines that can improve people’s lives – his final-year thesis was based on mechanical devices for paraplegics. “I also enjoy reading books on business philosophy and leadership, as well as quantum mechanics,” he says.

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Reading one book at a time isn’t enough for Joshua Raphael, CTO and founder of Parket; he prefers reading two books at once, usually one business and one fiction. He is currently reading Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Habits by James Clear and Predictable Revenue by Salesforce co-founders Aaron Ross and Marc Benioff.

He has also read a number of startup-related books, including Crossing the Chasm by Jeffrey Moore, Founding Sales: The Early Stage Go-To-Market Handbook by Peter R Kazanjy, and The Lean Startup by Eric Ries.

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Itumeleng Makgati, group information security executive at Standard Bank, says Simon Sinek’s writing on leadership inspires her.

“I’m currently reading Talk Like TED by Carmine Gallo: it’s been very helpful for preparing for my public speaking engagements,” she says. “I am also reading A Hacker’s Mind by Bruce Schneier, which is quite useful for my work in information security.” And Start with Why by Simon Sinek, an amazing book on leadership, which draws on a wide range of real-life stories: Simon weaves together a clear vision of what it truly takes to lead and inspire.”

Read more: Flipping the narrative

However, Jan van der Zandt, CTO at Liberty Life, believes that the rarer the book, the better. Jan is an avid collector of rare books about South African history, and the hunt is more important to him than the book itself. He complains that the internet has made the hunt more difficult, and that it is becoming increasingly difficult to come across gems. Anyone can now determine the worth of these collectibles and acquire them with a few mouse clicks.

“We have so many cycles of history in South Africa; many wars have been fought,” observes Jan. “I enjoy trying to understand the past, and how history has evolved. If you look at the current global climate, it’s a little bit scary. History gives us some pointers, and it seems like it won’t take much to start global conflagration. I would rather just collect the books and quietly sit and read in my study!”

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