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Harvard Business School

Leading Professional Service Firms

Most Engaging Instructors
Jan 26—31, 2020
6 days
Boston, Massachusetts, United States
USD 15500
USD 2583 per day

How it works


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As entry barriers rapidly disappear, competition is accelerating and reshaping the business landscape for professional service firms. Navigating this continual change successfully requires extraordinary leadership abilities. This professional service firm management program provides the frameworks you need to develop and retain talent, deliver outstanding client service, and build a flexible corporate culture that can exploit disruptive innovation and market trends.

Key Benefits

In this intensive program led by multidisciplinary HBS faculty, you will expand your ability to satisfy clients and motivate staff, build a strong vision and implement an effective strategy, and employ the fiscal discipline to maintain a sound bottom line and maximize enterprise value.


Design and implement effective strategies that drive growth and profit

  • Differentiate your firm in the context of new competitors and market trends
  • Sharpen core competencies to deliver maximum value to your clients
  • Maintain strategic and operational alignment and focus through business ebbs and flows

Attract, develop, and retain talented professionals

  • Foster both organizational success and individual achievement
  • Create an intimate, flexible culture that is inclusive, supportive, and collegial
  • Help professionals manage rising expectations, remain productive, and grow throughout their careers
  • Develop leaders at all levels of your organization

Become a more effective, impactful leader

  • Implement meaningful governance, decision-making, performance approaches, and metrics
  • Optimize the use of your time and energy, achieve work-life balance, and help your colleagues to do the same
  • Communicate your vision and strategy effectively and inspire others to realize their potential

Expand your personal and professional network

  • Extend your network by living and working with accomplished executives from various backgrounds, industries, and countries across the globe
  • Build relationships with a diverse group of peers who can provide wide-ranging insights into your business challenges and career decisions

What You Will Learn

Your rich learning experience will include multidisciplinary faculty presentations, case studies, and individual and group exercises. Through an intensive and comprehensive curriculum, you will examine the strategic challenges that have transformed the essence of client service, while exploring best practices for developing, governing, and growing a profitable service firm.

During the program, you will develop a personal case based on a specific challenge facing your service organization. After presenting your case and discussing potential actions with peers and faculty, you will leave with a plan you can implement immediately.

Key Topics

Managing talent

  • Why are so many firms about 30 years behind in their appreciation of human capital and talent management?
  • What are the warning signs of talent problems?
  • What is your talent strategy—where are you going and how will you get there?
  • How can you employ big data and artificial intelligence in recruiting and managing talent?
  • How are compensation models changing—and what does that mean for your organization?

Managing teams

How do you get individual contributors to work effectively in teams? What is the difference between visible and hidden teams—and why does it matter? How do you leverage your time and energy more effectively when managing others? How can you be more effective and also have a life outside of work?

Managing attrition

  • How should you respond to poor engagement scores?
  • Is it enough that your engagement scores remain the same?
  • Are you avoiding the tough conversations that you need to have?

Leading with impact

  • What does it mean to be an authentic leader?
  • Would your team choose you as their boss?
  • How can you make a difference in the lives of the people you lead? How will that affect their leadership style and the future of the firm?
  • How will you lead change? Can you really change yourself, an organization, and an industry? Why do smart professionals resist change?

Professional service firms and governance

  • Why are partnerships being used more often as organizing and governing structures?
  • How has global firm management changed over the past few decades?

Special sessions

  • An in-depth look at the major challenges and opportunities facing the global economy
  • A hands-on exercise in exploring the assumptions that executives make when communicating without enough information
  • A deep dive into the latest strategies in digital marketing, social media, and direct mail

Who should attend

  • Leaders who define and execute strategy for firms and organizations that provide services and who serve in roles such as chief executive officer, general manager, principal, partner, or head of an office, business unit, or practice
  • Participants may be responsible for accounting, architecture and engineering, marketing and advertising, venture capital, investment banking, software development, technical systems integration or law firm management, or may represent a hospital or university
  • May also be suitable for: Past participants who attended the program before 2017, when the curriculum was substantially revised and expanded


Felix Oberholzer-Gee is the Andreas Andresen Professor of Business Administration in the Strategy Unit at Harvard Business School. A member of the faculty since 2003, Professor Oberholzer-Gee received his Masters degree, summa cum laude, and his Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Zurich. H...
Thomas J. DeLong is a senior fellow and former Philip J. Stomberg Professor of Management Practice in the Organizational Behavior area at the Harvard Business School. Since 1997 DeLong has taught over 15,000 MBA’s and Executives both on campus and throughout the world. He is internationally recog...
Tsedal Neeley (@tsedal) is an associate professor in the Organizational Behavior unit at the Harvard Business School. She has taught in both the MBA (LEAD, Leading Teams in a Global Economy, Field Global Immersion) and in various executive education programs including Global Strategic Management ...
Karim R. Lakhani is Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School, the Principal Investigator of the Crowd Innovation Lab and NASA Tournament Lab at the Harvard Institute for Quantitative Social Science and the faculty co-founder of the Harvard Business School Digital Initia...
Das Narayandas is the James J. Hill Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School. He is currently the Senior Associate Dean, Chair, Harvard Business Publishing and Senior Associate Dean, Chair, Executive Education. His academic credentials include a Bachelor of Technology d...
David G. Fubini is a Senior Lecturer in the Organizational Behavior Unit and co-leader of the Leading Professional Services Firm and Mergers & Acquisitions Programs for Harvard Business School’s Executive Education .   His MBA teaching has concentrated on teaching the Organizational Behavior,...
Heidi K. Gardner, Ph.D., is a Distinguished Fellow at Harvard Law School’s Center on the Legal Profession, a Lecturer on Law, and Faculty Chair of the HLS’s Accelerated Leadership Program and other executive education programs. Previously she served on the Organizational Behavior faculty of Harv...
Dr. Paul McKinnon is a Senior Lecturer in the Organizational Behavior Unit, where he teaches in Leadership and Organizational Behavior (LEAD) in the MBA Required Curriculum, and Managing Human Capital in the MBA Elective Curriculum. His research interests are in Talent Management. Prior to joini...
Lakshmi Ramarajan is the Anna Spangler Nelson and Thomas C. Nelson Associate Professor of Business Administration in the Organizational Behavior Unit at Harvard Business School. Her research examines the management and consequences of identities in organizations. Lakshmi''s research examines h...
Ryan Raffaelli is an assistant professor in the Organizational Behavior Unit at Harvard Business School. He co-created and teaches the course "Leadership Execution and Action Planning" (LEAP) in the MBA elective curriculum and previously taught "Leadership and Organizational Behavior" (LEAD) in t...

Next dates

Jan 26—31, 2020
6 days
Boston, Massachusetts, United States
USD 15500
USD 2583 per day

How it works

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