Read to Lead


For the past several years, the Villanova School of Business (VSB) has selected a book for the incoming freshmen to read over the summer. The program is known as the Read to Lead program, and the cost of the books is generously funded by EY, one of the Big 4 public accounting firms.

Examples from the Read to Lead book are then integrated into the Intro to Business course all business students take during their first semester. Such an approach enables students to see the practical applications of the concepts that are being studied in class.

Here is the list of the books that have been used in the Read to Lead program:

  • Pour Your Heart Into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time
  • Googled: The End of the World as We Know It
  • Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose (Zappos)
  • Start Something That Matters (Tom’s Shoes)
  • Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business (Whole Foods)
  • Wawa: How a Funny name and Six Core Values Revolutionized Convenience

If you haven’t heard of Wawa, then just imagine what the ultimate convenience store would be like, and that’s Wawa. It’s better than 7-Eleven, Sheetz, or any regional convenience store chain you can think of. It’s a Philadelphia based chain, with stores in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and Florida. If you ever visit the Philly area, then Wawa has to be on your list of places to visit.

The book that we have selected for this year’s incoming freshmen is “Winners Dream: A Journey From Corner Store to Corner Office” by Bill McDermott, current CEO of software giant SAP, Inc.

The book tells the story of Bill’s career path, starting at 17 years old with his purchase of a deli while still in high school and then running the store until he graduated college. After college, Bill joined the sales team at Xerox, where he stayed for 17 years, becoming the company’s youngest executive vice president. He then left Xerox to serve as president at Gartner, Inc., followed by a job at Siebel Systems as executive VP of worldwide sales and operations. He then joined SAP as CEO of SAP America, became co-CEO in 2010, and was named CEO in 2014.

It is a remarkable story, and Bill shares many of the defining moments of his life with the reader, as well as useful words of advice for success in sales, business, and life. The faculty are confident that the students will find the book informative and enjoyable to read.

One interesting side note is that Bill’s grandfather was Bobby McDermott, a professional basketball player considered by many to be the greatest long-distance shooter in the history of the game.

It looks like we may also have the book chosen for the following year – “Do the KIND Thing” by the founder of the KIND Healthy Snacks company, Daniel Lubetzky. This is an inspiring story of the struggles and successes of being an entrepreneur and wanting to make a difference.



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