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Domtar Leaders Share Books That Have Shaped Their Lives

Categories: Ideas and Innovation

Those who have experienced the transformative power of a good book know how powerful the written word can be. Our Domtar leaders are no exception. They firmly believe that what you read doesn’t matter as much as the emotional, mental and physiological connection you have with a good book.

We recently spoke with Domtar President and CEO John D. Williams, Pulp & Paper President Mike Garcia and Personal Care President Mike Fagan to find out which books have inspired them the most. These are the books that helped shape their careers, spark new ideas and develop them into the Domtar leaders that they are today.

President and CEO John D. Williams

“I was an avid reader from a young age, and I have fond boyhood memories of reading the ‘Winnie-the-Pooh’ books, by A.A. Milne,” says Williams. “In my adult life, I now love stories about history interwoven with fiction, such as the ‘Shardlake’ novels by C.J. Sansom. I also like historical biographies like the Lyndon B. Johnson series by Robert Caro.”

Williams continues, “Two of my all-time favorite books, though, are ‘The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Defender of the Realm, 1940–1965,’ by William Manchester, and the Bible. The Churchill book is a great story about leadership through turbulent times, and the Bible is about the truth.”

Some of Williams’ other favorites include  “Brighton Rock” and “The Quiet American,” both by Graham Greene, and books by James Joyce and Charles Dickens.

Pulp & Paper President Mike Garcia

Garcia loves fiction and nonfiction equally. The first book he ever read was “The Hobbit,” by J.R.R. Tolkien. His sister passed the novel down to him when he was a young boy, and it solidified his love for fantasy novels. “The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement,” by Eliyahu M. Goldratt, is another favorite; this book made him think critically about various challenges related to manufacturing and management.

“‘Watership Down,’ by Richard Adams, has also had a large impact on my life,” says Garcia. “This was the first book I read in grade school, and I go back and read it every 10 years or so.”

Some other books that have impacted his life include “Lonesome Dove,” by Larry McMurtry; “Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage,” by Alfred Lansing; and “Spring Chicken: Stay Young Forever (or Die Trying),” by Bill Gifford — a book on aging that he has given to many friends.

Personal Care President Mike Fagan

For Fagan, it’s about people, focus, clarity and passion. Reading business books helped him determine the type of leader he wanted to be. Particularly relevant for him are the principles and models put forward in “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t,” by Jim Collins; “The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business,” by Patrick Lencioni; and “How to Think Like a CEO: The 22 Vital Traits You Need to Be the Person at the Top,” by D.A. Benton.

“A key element of my job is to act as ‘chief inspiration officer.’ I often ask myself, How can I put forward a vision and strategy that everyone can get behind, and how can I influence others to become more effective,” says Fagan. “These books have helped me in that approach.”

It’s Your Turn

These are the books that have inspired our Domtar leaders. What books have inspired you? Share your favorite titles with us on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Looking for other books to read? Take a look at our reading list series, which features books for all occasions that have been printed on Domtar paper.