recommended books

Scott Adams
The Dilbert Principle

Ok, it has become a cliché and oft-quoted, but that is because it is good and funny. I don’t always agree with his cynicism but there is so much in it that is spot on. Being a large book, it is a deep source of material to add to presentations in many different situations with chapters on most subjects of corporate interest. Main morals: don’t treat people like they are idiots; management can lose themselves in their own delusions; having your balloon pricked is a healthy past-time.

Berry & Jarvis
Accounting in a Business Context

This is the textbook that Bellevue Partners use for its training courses: Finance for Non-Financial Staff and Finance for Sales & Marketing. It is simple, covers the basics and has good examples that help turn the most financially-confused salesmen into a commercially-sussed colossus (under our outstanding guidance, of course).

Jim Collins
Good to Great

In 9 chapters Jim Collins lays out the results of extensive research about the key attributes of highly successful businesses. I have found its straightforward, common sense advice has stuck with me since I read it. I have used its lessons in forming my advice or stategy to turn around business performance. Sneak preview: lesson 1 is you need the right kind of leader, then get the right people on the bus. You’ll have to read the rest yourself. This comes highly recommended.

Eliyahu M. Goldratt & Jeff Cox
The Goal

I can see why some people may think this a bit tricksy, turning a business teaching book into a novel but I think that it has managed to pull it off. It has good lessons about how to manage a turnaround put in a digestible readable format.

Seth Godin
What To Do When It’s Your Turn

More of a picture book with commentary – a nicely designed stimulant. Seth makes you connect with what’s important and push yourself on to make changes that only you can do. It does the job for me when I’m looking for inspiration.

Charles Handy
The Elephant and the Flea

A consultant is bound to recommend this book from the guru who came up with the idea of corporate elephants acting as happy hunting grounds for portfolio-careered fleas. He is right though. This book foresaw the future shape of much of working life: people with flexible careers working for a variety of organisations.

Sir John Harvey Jones
Making it Happen – Reflections on Leadership

I used to work in the BBC department that made the “Troubleshooter” TV series which brought this ex-boss of ICI into our living rooms. This was the precursor of every TV management programme since including Gordon Ramsay and his kitchen nightmares. I admired Sir John hugely particularly his championing of management of real day-to-day businesses as a worthwhile career. This was despite being on the receiving end of one of his forthright critiques when he did a troubleshooter on us. He didn’t mince his words!

Jeremy Hope
Reinventing the CFO

This is the bible for transforming the performance of a finance function. Challenging common sense which you can see has been written from real experience. This book inspired me to create Bellevue’s 21st Century Finance services.

David McCandless
Information is Beautiful

There are so many compelling ways to present information so that it grabs the attention of the reader. This book has some great examples. A recommended source of ideas for people who are responsible for presenting information and compiling reports.

Steve Peters
The Chimp Paradox

The author has helped Sir Bradley Wiggins win the Tour de France, Victoria Pendleton take Olympic Gold and Ronnie O’Sullivan defeat the world’s best snooker players. The ideas are simple with practical exercises that are easy to follow. You too can conquer your mind’s inner chimp to be more confident, happy and successful.

Tom Peters

I approached this book with some trepidation expecting American business guru bull-shit. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I loved Tom’s ambition, his provocative fresh-thinking and all round good ideas. He really made me sit up and think about how I approach business challenges. I still dip into it when looking for inspiration. Strongly recommended.

Jeffrey Pfeffer
The Human Equation

Managing people well is at the heart of running any good business. This book explains the main do’s and don’ts with great authority. It includes the 7 practices of successful organisations – useful advice that can be turned into implementable plans.

Daniel H. Pink
To Sell is Human

These days selling is a part of everyone’s job: whether it’s selling goods or services to customers or gaining support from your boss for your latest project. I liked this short, straightforward book about selling. Nothing revelatory, just sound advice in a readable style that is easy to implement. Good tips for how to manage conversations. I think finance departments can gain from taking his advice when engaging within the business.

Gerry Robinson
I’ll Show Them Who’s Boss

If I have one major regret in my business life, it is that I have never had a chance to work with Gerry Robinson. His philosophy of business is exactly what I believe in: good businesses need good leadership, commitment from the workforce and clear, honest communication. Unfortunately, I only know this from watching his TV programmes and reading this book. This book is short and simple and it’s a cracker. Who knows? I may get a chance to meet him some day.


Robin Aitken is the man who kept Africa Express’s craziest project on the commercial rails allowing us to achieve world-wide acclaim and attention while keeping a firm grip of our finances.

Ian Birrell
Founder of Africa Express & Journalist