Construction leaders reveal their must-read books 📚

The second instalment of our three-part series highlights books industry movers and shakers are checking out.

Books on a bookshelf

Whether it’s to gain some knowledge or escape into another world, books can offer new ways to look at things. From sci-fi novels to gritty autobiographies, check out what page-turners construction leaders have tucked away on their bookshelves. 

1. Yasir Ali, Self Perform Operations at Turner Construction Company

The Hard Things About Hard ThingsBen Horowitz

“A really good read from a business standpoint on when you need survival war time strategic leadership, and when a more long-term sustainable leadership and decision making is needed. Sometimes you need to pivot from one to the other depending on where your business is at, and having the self-awareness and cognizance on having those key folk in your team will help you ride those waves.”

– Ali

2. Shane McKernan, director of construction at Chard Development

Pillars of the EarthKen Follett

“I read this book in high school and it has stuck with me since. My interest in construction was inspired by Follett’s descriptions of gothic architecture in the cathedral they built.”

– McKernan

3. Mary Van Buren, Canadian Construction Association president

Born a CrimeTrevor Noah

“An educational true story. Moving with a touch of humour.”

– Van Buren

4. Michael Scott, Vice President of Impact Recruitment’s building division 

Shoe DogPhil Knight 

“Incredible to hear about what creates belief in people and how dreams evolve and become realities and the grit it takes to be successful in business or in general life.”

– Scott

5. Sebastien de Ghellinck, SkillSignal founder and owner

The Lord of the RingsJ.R.R. Tolkien 

“I’m reading Tolkien’s LOTR trilogy at night for my kids. It took us a full year to finish The Hobbit, so these ones will probably last for more.”

– de Ghellinck

6. Rory Kulmala, CEO, Vancouver Island Construction Association 

Start With Why,  How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take ActionSimon Sinek

“Of all the leadership-type books I’ve read, this one really reminded me to focus on the real reason I do something.”

– Kulmala

7. Nicholas Tountas – Sheet metal worker at Orzech Heating and Cooling

Can’t Hurt MeDavid Goggins

“This autobiography covers the journey of Goggins (whose childhood was riddled with abuse, poverty, harassment, and racism) who believed he was worthless. He overcame all odds by pushing the limits of his body and mind. It resonates with me because I’ve utilized many of his anecdotes to carve my own path through areas of my life I felt could not be overcome.” 

– Tountas

8. Erik Backstrom, Senior Planner for City of Edmonton

Homecoming: The Path to Prosperity in a Post-Global WorldRana Foroohar 

“It’s a brand-new book about economic localization from one of today’s most eminent business writers.”

– Backstrom

9. Thomas Bamber – Air + Light Technical Lead for Integral Group

Carbon DemocracyTimothy Mitchell 

“This book is an extraordinary sweeping overview of the relationship between fossil fuels and political institutions and it was hugely epiphanic. It made me understand so much about the history of Britain, the U.S., the current status quo in the Middle East and just how horrifically unable we are to wean ourselves off fossil fuels.” 

– Bamber

10. Brett Rutledge, SiteNews Co-Founder

Shop Class as Soulcraft – Matthew B. Crawford

“An interesting meditation on the value of the working with your hands. While my tool of choice may now be a keyboard, I look back so fondly on all those summers doing physical labour as a student in Halifax. The author examines the long term trend of parents urging their children to become informational workers, and why a career in the trades deserves much more consideration than it gets. The book might be 12 years old – but with massive tech layoffs happening every day and a continuous shortage of labour in construction, many of his points are more relevant now than ever.”

– Rutledge

*Editors Note – Check out the first part of this series, which highlighted songs recommended by construction leaders .


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