YP IE Book Report: First books to read after graduation

By: Christina Kach

Even once your college days are behind you, continuing to learn and explore, a curiosity to see and experience new things, will keep life and careers more interesting. A simple way to learn more is to read. The list of books below are some of my personal favorites, and are particularly helpful to young professionals and Industrial Engineers in their first years after college as you truly begin to embark on your career.

  • The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

An easy read, the book is written as a story of a company team navigating the tricky waters of functioning collaboratively and successfully as a group. This tome provides insight into pitfalls that may befall a team and provides awareness so you, as team leader, can be alert to the issues and act to resolve them effectively. If not the team leader, but as an individual contributor, this book will help you realize how your own behavior could be a negative influence and help you become a better team player.

  • Lean Production Simplified by Pascal Dennis

“The Toyota Way” by Jeff Liker and “Lean Thinking” and “The Machine that Changed the World” by James Womack are wonderful books on the topic of Lean. I’ve read them, so I know. There is also a lesser known book that I think deserves some credit. “Lean Production Simplified” by Pascal Dennis is a great introductory book for those who are new in a Lean knowledge journey. The set up is more like a text book, with diagrams, definitions, and pictures to illustrate points. It is an easy read that lays out the foundational points of Lean methodology in a simple to digest manner. Continuous Improvement is a critical piece of IE and a field growing in popularity and application; start your knowledge on this early.

  • How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

This book, published in 1936, may need a title update, but the content is still completely relevant. Carnegie essentially provides a look at effective ways to develop strong relationship with people before, during and after an initial interaction. Points in the book can be as simple as “smile.” Others highlight the importance of making whoever you are talking to feel important and valued.  Page after page you will find applicable advice on how to improve both work and personal interactions. If you enjoy this one, Carnegie has written multiple other helpful career focused books that are worth a read.

  • The Speed of Trust by Stephen Covey

While the ambition and energy of recent college graduates is to be admired, we need to realize gaining trust with our new team is a critical element of our new position in the working world. Covey understands we want to jump in with both feet and hit the ground running, but grounds us by showcasing the improved progress we can make if we take the time to earn the trust of our team first. He states this trust is both work (competence) as well as personal (character) based.  Building trust is fairly simple; complete small tasks to show your capabilities before aiming at the difficult assignments and act with integrity to show your good character. As a reminder, you cannot fake character and competence, you must truly act in those ways or else people will see right through you. In a nutshell, behave in a way that inspires trust, and remember to reciprocate by trusting your team back.

You may have picked up on a theme in these four book suggestions. They all acknowledge our drive to accomplish great things in our careers, but challenge us to pause before full throttle execution to develop some otherwise overlooked skills: being a good team player, improving work for business growth, establishing meaningful relationships, and earning trust. As the fable goes, slow and steady wins the race, and in relation to your career, a solid foundation of these skill sets will set you up for present and future successes, harnessing that great enthusiasm for Industrial Engineering you are ready to execute on in the real world.


Christina Kach is currently transitioning to a new position and company focusing on process improvement and business analytics in the service industry.  Christina held her first Lean position as in intern in 2006. Since then she has continued to seek out varied roles of increasing responsibility and actively pursues further Lean education. She recently held the role of Continuous Improvement Lead for a Government Defense Company based in Massachusetts, focusing on Lean implementation and process improvement in a manufacturing environment. Christina holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Industrial Engineering from Northeastern University, currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Engineering Management also from Northeastern, and is SME Lean Certified.

Christina invites you to connect with her via Twitter (@ChristinaKach) or at her blog for young professionals www.catchcareers.com