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Audrey Russo, President & CEO of Pittsburgh Technology Council, Has an Active Reading List of 20 Books at a Time

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Audrey Russo is the President and CEO of the Pittsburgh Technology Council.

The Pittsburgh Technology Council helps new businesses grow by connecting them to the right capital source or helping them grow their workforce. Their platform is a combination of elements that are key for a thriving business, such as government relations, talent retention or business development.

For the past 11 years, Audrey has been in charge of the Pittsburgh Technology Council, North America’s oldest and largest technology trade association. Her background in information technology, operations and finance have made her a firm believer that technology is the key to progress and that drives her in her mission to facilitate strong interaction across all sectors of the regional economy.

She is a graduate of Ohio State University, where she obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Science. Even more, she also has a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Public Affairs. Her particular set of skills make her an extremely competent professional, since she knows about finance, business planning, technology economic development and possesses analytical skills.

Her resume includes work for significant, Fortune 500 companies, such as Alcoa or Reynolds Metals. All that and more made us very eager to chat with Audrey about her favorite reads.

The book-talk below is going to leave you with an impressive number of books that both men and women interested in business and tech should read. Enjoy!

Estimated reading time for this interview is 8 minutes. If you'd rather listen to it, you can do it on iTunes, Google Play or Stitcher.

What’s your favorite book and why? Business and non-business, if possible.

So many favorites! In my high school days – Manchild in The Promised Land absolutely unhinged me. It was as if my whole world turned upside down and made me understand the narrow thinking and bubble I was living in.

Business books come and go, with the times and trends but anything by Peter Drucker, as in the collection of The Essential Drucker.

Was there a moment, specifically, when something you read in a book helped you? Can you tell me about it?

Reading Atlas Shrugged. For quite a few reasons, not just her thinking about Objectivism, but about the role of a woman in business – in architecture and construction. There were few stories where women of strength and endurance were captured in roles outside of Hollywood. Additionally, this final book of Ayn Rand’s delved into the mechanics of business, including the complexities, nuances and the role of government. No academic studies had ever provided me with the contextual nuances AND importance of business.

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What books had the biggest impact on you? (perhaps changed the way you see things, dramatically changed your career path)

So many novels; Lord of the Flies, Great Gatsby, Great Expectations; all the Nancy Drew books; Catcher in the Rye, Books written by Zora Neale Hurston; Pat Conroy – all because of the view about different people who endure despite adversity while kindling the hearts of the human spirit.

What books would you recommend to youngsters interested in your professional path? Why? (no number limit here)

I’m interested in finding out more about your reading habits. How often do you read? In what format?

I have at any given time 20 books that I am actively reading. That’s in tangible form. Electronically I download the Amazon books of the month and glance through what’s in there. I also read the Sunday New York Times – all week. I read fiction and nonfiction. These days I gravitate also to journals or magazines that support the writings of cities, new urbanism.

How do you make time for reading?

I just do. I read a ton on the weekends. So much so that in the winter months I have to kick myself to get up and move!

Do you take notes or have any other technique for conquering the torrent of information?

I write in books that I own – particularly the non-fiction ones.

I am a big user of Twitter. I look at trends in what people are tweeting about – in particular as it relates to innovation, business and the newer world of work.

How do you choose what books to read next?

I receive suggestions. I ask people what they are reading. I am on the board of City of Asylum – keeping up with their writers and their bookstore is a near impossibility BUT filled with amazing writers.

Do you prioritize the books recommended by certain people? Is there anyone that you consider a book-recommendations guru?

People who are accomplished in business and make suggestions to me on what to read – I read.

I have close friends who are maniacal readers, I listen to what they read.

Sometimes I get on a jag about a particular topic and I seek that out.

Of course, I have my indulgences – Anne Rice 🙂 Love vampires.

Last question: what book are you currently reading and what are you expecting to gain from it?

Nudge – was recommended by a friend and board member who is wicked wise (Improving decisions about health, wealth and happiness – I imagine I will gain kernels of wisdom).

So You Have Been Publicly Shamed – Jon Ronson (we are living in interesting times and I am trying to have perspective on how social media has altered our personas).

Links where you can follow Audrey Russo or find out more about her projects:

All books mentioned by Audrey in our interview:

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