Africa — Senior Executive Program
African countries face a distinct set of social, economic, and political conditions that create unique business challenges—along with exciting opportunities. To gain a competitive advantage, businesses across the continent need exceptional, confident leaders. This program prepares you to expand your leadership skills as well as your knowledge of local, regional, and global markets. By improving your ability to design and execute winning strategies, deliver innovative offerings, nurture high-performance teams, and navigate rapid change, you will be ready to help your company drive growth in Africa's dynamic markets.
Featuring a module in Mauritius, an independent work module, and a module on the HBS campus, this program enables rapidly growing organizations to drive business momentum through more effective leadership. By gaining deeper insight into the best practices of successful business leaders, you will be better equipped to lead effectively and help your organization achieve ambitious goals in local markets, regional markets, and across Africa.
- Design an effective strategy for business growth in an African context—within your country or across borders
- Differentiate your offerings and deliver more value to customers
- Implement changes that align your organization for optimal execution
- Improve your organization's ability to innovate
- Build a sustainable, accountable organization with greater transparency and stronger governance
- Develop enduring bonds with accomplished peers from across the African continent
What You Will Learn
The Senior Executive Program—Africa is designed to help you grow as a leader while minimizing time away from work. Emphasizing business challenges of greatest relevance to leaders in African markets, the curriculum examines the real-life experiences of executives from Africa and around the world to illuminate best practices in management and leadership.
The two intensive in-class modules—one in Mauritius and one on the HBS campus in Boston—combine case studies, presentations from both HBS faculty and Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) faculty, dynamic classroom discussions, small group exercises, and guest speakers. Between these two sessions of highly focused learning, you will work on a special project in which you will address an important business challenge facing your organization.
In an introductory webinar, faculty will provide an overview of the journey you are about to take. You will get a preview of program topics and learning approaches and discover how to maximize your learning.
Before arriving for Module 1, you should identify a business challenge for your organization, which you will work on during the program as part of the Business Challenge Project. (Upon acceptance to the program, you will receive information to help you select your project.)
Module 1: Strategy, innovation, and leadership
Format: Port Louis, Mauritius (1 week)
Business success begins with a sound strategy—one based on a clear-sighted understanding of your firm's capabilities and the competitive dynamics. You will learn how companies deliver value to their customers, enable innovation, and evolve their offerings to sustain competitive advantage. You will also learn how to evolve your leadership style in ways that enhance your organization's success. Key topics include:
- Creating superior customer value
- Choosing your market position
- Designing corporate strategy in a multi-business organization
- Developing design-thinking capabilities
- Aligning product and service innovation plans with business strategy
- Building and leading high-performance teams
- Understanding leadership within an African context
- Maximizing the contributions of top talent
Module 2: Independent work: business challenge project
Format: Applying your learning in your workplace (14 weeks)
Back in the workplace, you will put your newfound knowledge into action. Working with your team, you will assess your markets and competition and evolve your corporate strategy. You will also take steps to improve your organization's ability to successfully execute your strategy.
You will test out your enhanced leadership skills and explore ways to adapt your leadership approach to meet the needs of your organization. As you become a more effective leader, you will reflect on the results, gathering insights and questions to share with faculty and peers.
In addition, you will work on a plan to address your chosen business challenge—and prepare to present your plan during Module 3.
Module 3: Thinking globally, driving local and regional growth, and sustaining success
Format: HBS Campus, Boston, U.S. (1 week)
Reconvening with peers and faculty in Boston, you will examine a new realm of leadership topics and gain a deeper understanding of the connections among businesses, governments, and the international economy. You will also present the results of your Business Challenge Project to faculty and peers, using their feedback to refine your action plan and prepare to execute it. Key topics include:
- Competing in the global economy and understanding trends that will impact African businesses
- Choosing an optimal path for growth
- Recognizing and addressing institutional voids
- Serving the bottom of the pyramid in diverse African markets
- Building effective partnerships and financing major projects
- Creating a sustainable organization through improved approaches to governance and leadership development
- Measuring and communicating performance
- Navigating corporate finance and expanding your knowledge of financial markets, institutions, and instruments
- Connecting with consumers by leveraging the power of marketing
Special Program Features
Living/learning group work
A multi-module program creates the opportunity to build close, trusting relationships with a small, diverse group of peer executives who can understand your challenges—but are not part of your organization. Throughout the program, you will work with a small group of peers who will stimulate your learning as you:
- Absorb global insights by working with executives from different countries, cultures, and professional backgrounds
- Share diverse perspectives as you discuss cases and assignments
- Complete small group exercises as a team
- Give and receive feedback and advice—personal and professional—in a safe environment
While on the HBS campus in Boston, you will also share living quarters with your learning/living group, forging relationships that serve as a valuable source of peer feedback, support, and advice.
Business challenge project
Throughout the program, you will work on a practical plan for addressing a major business challenge confronting your organization. This exercise will enable you to:
- Transform your learning into meaningful action for your business
- Improve your skills at articulating an issue to peers and soliciting their input
- Identify and prepare for potential roadblocks and leadership challenges that may arise as you work to implement your plan
Ongoing support and networking
Your connection to HBS will continue long after the program ends, providing exclusive access to information that can help you continue to develop as a leader, expand your network, and sustain your company's success. Upon completion of the program, you will receive:
- A complimentary subscription to Harvard Business Review
- Membership in HBS online communities through which you can exchange business ideas
- Periodic emails from HBS Working Knowledge, offering you a first look at cutting-edge thinking from HBS faculty
Who should attend
Experienced senior executives in African companies who have significant responsibility in strategic decision-making.
Participants typically represent growth-oriented organizations, including:
- Established private or state-owned companies
- Local, multinational, or pan-African businesses
- Growing family businesses
- Nonprofit organizations
- Government agencies, especially those working closely with the private sector
Participants might include CEOs, CFOs, business line heads, or other senior members of a company's executive team, as well as directors general of government agencies.
A limited amount of partial scholarship funding may be available for qualified applicants from not-for-profit organizations. Please include a request for funding in your application.