General Management Program
Creating Outstanding Business Leaders
Today's global economy calls for multifaceted leaders who have a more holistic view of business, who can spot emerging opportunities, and who can navigate all economic environments. GMP helps functional specialists master new skills and develop new leadership styles—transforming them into outstanding general managers who can lead more effectively and more confidently.
Early career success often comes through specialization in a specific functional domain, but further advancement requires a more comprehensive, multifunctional perspective. Without careful preparation, this transition can be risky and take years to complete—time that companies can ill afford as they attempt to grow their business in a competitive, fast-moving market. GMP is designed to smooth and accelerate this important career transition.
This leadership development program is designed for executives with recently acquired or significantly expanded general management responsibilities, and for senior functional managers who need a broader perspective on company operations or who will become business-unit, division, or regional leaders in the near future.
You return to your organization with the analytical skills needed to identify, frame, and solve complex business problems, the confidence needed to make significant business decisions, and the leadership skills needed to drive fundamental change within your organization. In short, this program is designed to maximize the impact you make when you get back to work.
Through a tightly integrated structure with both on- and off-campus modules, this executive education program combines a collaborative learning environment with a results-focused, action-oriented curriculum. The case-based curriculum presents a holistic picture of leadership with an emphasis on practical knowledge and personalized learning.
Compare the key features of Harvard Business School's three comprehensive leadership programs—the Advanced Management Program, the General Management Program, and the Program for Leadership Development.
A limited amount of partial scholarship funding may be available for qualified applicants from not-for-profit organizations. To be considered, you must complete and submit your application and include a request for funding. FOR MORE INFORMATION, please contact Ms. Vicki Good, Portfolio Director, at +1-617-495-6486.
What to Expect
The Challenge – Most managers achieve success in the early phases of their careers through increased specialization—continually refining their expertise in a single functional area. At some point, however, the best of these specialists face a difficult challenge: re-creating themselves as generalists.
Whether formally designated as "general managers" or senior functional leaders with general management responsibilities, these executives must develop new skills, adopt a business-wide perspective, and to become effective strategists, organization builders, and leaders beyond their area of expertise. If this transformation is left to on-the-job training, it can take years to complete—and can have implications on the company's performance.
The Response – Success as a general manager requires the ability to think, act, and lead differently. Harvard Business School's General Management Program (GMP) accelerates the transition from functional manager into general management by providing you with a broader set of skills and a more comprehensive, multifunctional perspective. In five on-campus and off-campus segments, GMP builds essential skills in strategy, finance, and leadership, while providing insight into the latest theories and best practices.
GMP helps you build strong teams, proactively address the threats and opportunities presented by a changing competitive environment, and contribute to your company's growth at a more strategic level. At the same time, this intense program prompts you to rethink your most basic assumptions about management and leadership. It is a time for self-reflection and personal discovery—an interlude that helps you refine your judgment, enhance your skill set, and increase your confidence.
"The General Management Program was the most challenging, enriching, and humbling experience of my career. I went into the course expecting to learn the latest, cutting-edge business management theories to prepare me for the next phase of my career. What I didn't expect was the deeply personal and transformational leadership journey that the world-class professors and fellow students delivered."
Kristin Kaplan Wolfe [Vice President – Global Industry Affairs], SABMiller plc, UK
Your Course of Study
Through a tightly integrated structure of both on- and off-campus modules, GMP provides a holistic view of leadership with an emphasis on practical knowledge and personalized learning. The off-campus modules allow you expand your core knowledge and apply your learning to the challenges you face at work, while the on-campus modules present a rigorous, action-oriented, and collaborative learning environment designed to help you achieve outstanding results for your company.
GMP stresses a peer-to-peer learning model across all modules, using online tools to connect participants who have particular leadership challenges with those who have expertise or experience in those same areas.
Module 1: Building Foundational Skills
Format: Off-Campus Learning (4 weeks)
GMP begins well before you set foot on the HBS campus. After completing the admission process, you will receive a set of online, print, and audio materials. These tools provide a solid foundation in financial management, strategy formulation, and accounting, while introducing you to the HBS learning environment. The goal: to ensure that you arrive on campus ready to learn. Depending on your background and your knowledge of these topics, the work in Module 1 should require from three to six hours per week.
Module 2: Sharpening Diagnostic Skills
Format: On-Campus Learning at HBS (4 weeks)
The first on-campus module builds a deeper understanding of the general manager's job, with particular emphasis on the typical challenges facing a business unit leader: setting strategy, building the organization, understanding the economics and key value drivers, and exploiting new opportunities in both good and bad economies.
You will acquire critical analytical skills and frameworks in three core areas—human resources management, financial management, and strategy formulation—along with a greater knowledge of accounting, marketing, operations, and negotiations. While the objective is to develop working knowledge in each of these functional domains, the program employs a highly integrated approach, with case studies analyzing cross-functional problems that require comprehensive action plans. GMP also provides you with insight into the global economy through special sessions and outside speakers focused on the changing global marketplace and the skills needed to navigate uncertain environments.
Three important components of Module 2 personalize the GMP experience by directly linking it to your company. During the module, you will develop a strategy statement focused on setting direction and identifying a sustainable competitive position for your company. You will then create a case study analyzing a particular leadership challenge associated with the implementation of your chosen strategy. Finally, you will develop a detailed action plan for implementation. This personalized approach to key GMP lessons maximizes the learning, sets the stage for learning in later modules—and delivers greater benefits to your organization.
Module 3: Applying the Knowledge
Format: Off-Campus Learning (5 weeks)
In this module focused on knowledge in action, you will return to your organization and begin applying what you have learned. You will continue to assess and address your leadership challenges as part of the case study exercise. This period of analysis and experimentation begins to deliver concrete benefits to your organization. It also provides an opportunity for you to share your insights and analyses with colleagues at work as a way to further refine your personalized action plan.
During this module, you will gain access to a proprietary HBS website featuring video clips from HBS alumni in general management positions. Offering the "rules of the road" for managers exploring new roles and responsibilities, these videos provide insight into the issues encountered when making the transition from senior functional to general management.
Module 4: Action-Oriented Leadership
Format: On-Campus Learning at HBS (3 weeks)
Challenged by the experience of reimmersion into the workplace during Module 3, you will bring new energy to the second on-campus module. Equipped with a fresh perspective on your job and your organization, you will be determined to tackle obstacles, expand your knowledge and skills, and refine your personal action plan.
Serving as the capstone of GMP, this three-week module provides an in-depth examination of leadership in action. You will discover how to lead in turbulent and uncertain environments, drive fundamental change throughout the organization, and achieve your company's long-term objectives. While analyzing the ethical, motivational, and performance challenges associated with leadership positions, you will develop the skills to capitalize on new technology and globalization. Against this backdrop, you will finalize your personal action plan.
At the same time, you will continue the process of personal transformation through self-reflection. By evaluating your own leadership abilities and identifying areas for improvement, you will discover new insights about yourself: how you analyze problems, how you can apply the leadership skills of your mentors to your own growth, what constitutes your personal leadership style, and how you can best contribute to the success of your organization. Through a series of reentry exercises, the program prepares you to make the critical transition from the HBS learning environment back to your front-line leadership position.
Module 5: Implementation and Ongoing Learning
Format: Off-Campus Learning
Equipped with a detailed action plan developed during GMP, you will return to your organization ready to lead. The ultimate measure of success is the positive impact you will make when applying your new leadership skills and insights to your evolving responsibilities.
In addition to implementing your personal action plan, you will begin the process of lifelong learning. Through a variety of resources, the School enables you to stay abreast of new developments in management theory and practice, while keeping in touch with your GMP classmates and other HBS alumni. As a graduate of GMP, you have access to a powerful network of advisers and coaches who can guide you in navigating current and future leadership challenges.
"Not a single week goes by when I am not utilizing a concept or technique learned at GMP. My colleagues and I were lamenting this morning that, while it would have been nice to return to a more economically stable environment, our time at GMP better prepared us to deal with the downturn. Perhaps the economy has changed the direction of our companies, but the strategies we learned are helping us lead our companies through these difficult times."
Sandi Baylor-Schmidt [Vice President Human Resources & Legal Affairs], Genus Americas, U.S.
"Not only has the GMP provided the boost in my career I expected, it has truly changed the way I tackle day-to-day business challenges. I had the opportunity to exercise my new skills and learning through an acquisition and integration opportunity within Stryker which has provided a continuum of integration challenges. My confidence in facing these challenges head-on is due to the remarkable professors who provided me with the assurance to do so."
Signe Haughton [Global Director of Marketing, Integration, and Commercialization], Stryker – Neurovascular, U.S.
Who Is Right for the Program
The General Management Program is designed primarily for executives with recently acquired or significantly expanded general management responsibilities. It is also appropriate for senior functional managers with important cross-functional or cross-organizational responsibilities, who need a broader perspective on the company's operations, or who will soon become business-unit, division, or regional leaders. Executives who need to develop a more comprehensive, integrated perspective and need to sharpen their strategic, financial, and leadership skills will benefit most from this program.
The most common titles of GMP participants include:
- General manager (deputy, assistant, or divisional)
- Senior vice president or VP (divisional, regional, or corporate)
- Director (executive, managing, or divisional)
- Head (business unit or division)
Participants typically have 15 to 20 years of work experience.
Is GMP right for you? Talk to someone who has been there.
Past Participants Represented:
|6%||High Technology||4%||Middle East|
Participating Companies Have Included:
Old Mutual South Africa
Suntech Power Holdings Co., Ltd.
Wacker Chemie AG
Westpac Banking Corporation
Zurich Financial Services Group
This list of companies includes participants who have attended recent GMP programs.
"The General Management Program was beyond anything I could have envisioned. Now I am more perceptive of my own shortcomings and better at coaching my subordinates. I also have a broader view of our business, have acquired better skills in strategic thinking, and am more inspiring as a leader."
Kjersti Grimsrud [Managing Director and Commercial Director], Axis-Shield PoC AS, Norway - part of Alere Inc.
Meet the Program Faculty
The General Management Program is taught by a core faculty of senior Harvard Business School professors who are skilled educators, groundbreaking researchers, and award-winning authors, and who serve as advisers, consultants, and directors of companies around the world. HBS faculty leverage their business experience to create new knowledge and enduring concepts that shape the practice of management. Other HBS professors join the core faculty to present special topics, conveying their specific insights to further enrich the learning experience. The result is a teaching team that exposes you to multiple perspectives and challenges your thinking on many levels.
Laura Alfaro, Associate Professor of Business Administration. Member of the Business, Government and the International Economy Unit.
Bharat N. Anand, Henry R. Byers Professor of Business Administration. Member of the Strategy Unit; and faculty cochair of "Effective Strategies for Media Companies: Leading Strategic Renewal."
Mihir A. Desai, Mizuho Financial Group Professor of Finance. Senior Associate Dean, Planning and University Affairs. Member of the Finance and Entrepreneurial Management Units.
Linda A. Hill, Wallace Brett Donham Professor of Business Administration. Faculty cochair of the HBS Leadership Initiative; member of the Organizational Behavior Unit; and faculty chair of the "High Potentials Leadership Program," "Leading with Impact: Staying on the Fast Track," and "Maximizing Your Leadership Potential—India."
Rajiv Lal, Stanley Roth, Sr. Professor of Retailing. Member of the Marketing Unit; faculty chair of the "General Management Program" and faculty cochair of "Leading Growth Through Customer Centricity—India."
Peter Olson, Senior Lecturer of Business Administration. Member of the Strategy Unit.
Stefan H. Thomke, William Barclay Harding Professor of Business Administration. Member of the Technology and Operations Management Unit; faculty chair of HBS Executive Education in India and "Driving Growth Through Innovation—India"; and faculty cochair of "Leading Product Innovation."
Andrew Wasynczuk, Senior Lecturer of Business Administration. Member of the Negotiation, Organizations, and Markets Unit.
GMP: A High-Return Investment
Going far beyond basic skills, theories, and frameworks, the General Management Program conveys and instills the reality and practice of general management. You will return to your organization with the analytical skills needed to identify, frame, and solve complex business problems; the confidence to make important business decisions in an uncertain and rapidly changing environment; and the leadership skills needed to drive fundamental change in your organization.
How is this accomplished?
- GMP builds on Harvard Business School's six decades of experience in designing and running outstanding leadership programs for senior executives. It offers a large, diverse, and challenging peer group, with constant feedback from unbiased, noncompetitive peers. The third-party, noncorporate setting allows you to take risks, experiment freely, and escape the confines of your daily working life.
- The full-time, world-class HBS faculty provide an unparalleled educational experience. Faculty members work closely with you during the program—which in many cases, creates bonds that last for years.
- The five-part GMP learning experience moves you from your current knowledge and skill base to a broadly expanded one, enabling you to examine challenges from new perspective and consider a new realm of potential strategies.
- You will create strong and durable professional networks that provide enduring benefits to both you and your sponsoring organization.
- GMP combines the large-group learning of the classroom with small-group learning, creating an incomparable leadership development experience.
- The small living groups—assembled to include a range of experiences and talents—provide a unique context for personal feedback and professional development. Within these groups, you and your peers will act as mentors, coaches, advisers, teachers, and students. In this collaborative environment, you will both give and receive constructive criticism and honest feedback.
- The length of the program is critically important: Effective learning groups grow out of cohesion and trust, which only can be achieved through a sustained immersion in the learning environment, away from the routines and pressures of the workplace. While shorter programs can offer skill building, they cannot provide the personal transformation that occurs in GMP.
"GMP is a transformational program. You learn many concepts and frameworks, but the most valuable part is the rich and intense exchange with colleagues and faculty. My company had an immediate return on their GMP investment, because I was able to apply and implement the strategy exercise back at work."
Juliano Ohta [Marketing and Purchasing Director], Saint-Gobain Distribution Brazil, Brazil
The Learning Model
Philosophy – Every HBS Executive Education experience is shaped by the School's cross-functional approach to general management, its innovative teaching methodologies, and a unique residential learning environment that promotes teamwork and collaboration.
Case Method – Pioneered by Harvard Business School, the case method is one of the most effective tools for teaching general management and leadership—especially to practicing managers. Case studies offer multiple levels of learning, compelling participants to identify relevant issues and to apply practical business lessons to their own companies. Cases often are complemented by videotaped interviews or in-class visits by case protagonists. At HBS, Executive Education participants benefit from an added dimension that no other school can offer: the opportunity to be taught by the faculty who wrote the cases, who know the case protagonists, and who have personal knowledge of the problems encountered, alternatives considered, and solutions presented.
Interaction – Every facet of an HBS Executive Education program—from participant selection…to amphitheater classroom seating…to learning group design…to social activities—is carefully crafted to promote dynamic interchange and shared learning among accomplished peers from diverse companies, industries, and countries. To reinforce the School's extraordinary sense of community, Executive Education participants live on campus in suites of single, private rooms arranged around a common area. This provides ready access to colleagues, while fostering peer-to-peer engagement. For many participants, this is one of the most rewarding aspects of the HBS experience.
The Learning Commitment – Residency on campus is required, and classes are held six days a week. The faculty expects active involvement in all classroom sessions, case discussions, and other program activities. Participants devote considerable time and energy to the learning experience, putting in long days and nights. Therefore, they must be free of outside responsibilities during their stay at HBS. Except during specified breaks and at the end of the program, spouses and other family members should not plan to visit participants in Boston.
Technology – Program participants benefit from an on-campus environment that is powerfully enriched by state-of-the-art technology infrastructure. The range of hands-on tools spans computer simulations, webcasts, and videoconferencing in class; a personal computer equipped with all the necessary software in each participant's room; and immediate access to extensive databases and proprietary resources exclusive to the HBS community. The result is an innovative, on-campus environment that is supported comprehensively by shared resources and learning.
Health and Fitness – A leader is an irreplaceable corporate asset. As part of the curriculum, the General Management Program offers classes on stress management and work-life balance. In addition, GMP participants enjoy full access to the extensive fitness facilities at Harvard Business School.
Why HBS? – With more than 60 years of experience in executive education, Harvard Business School is the leading provider of advanced learning opportunities that strengthen the leadership capacity of both individuals and their organizations. Unlike any other, the HBS Executive Education learning model immerses the world's most promising managers in a transformational experience that transcends the acquisition of knowledge, skills, and tools—and fosters professional, intellectual, and personal development. Every program challenges executives to grow as leaders, to shape powerful ideas into decisive action plans, and to think and manage differently in a changing business world.
"The General Management Program inspired confidence and delivered a new way of thinking. It's a great transition to executive management—I left with a toolbox of techniques and approaches that I could apply immediately. More importantly, I began viewing situations with a new mindset and a multifaceted lens."
August de los Reyes [Senior Director], Microsoft, USA
After completing the General Management Program, participants become alumni of Harvard Business School with exclusive access to:
- The HBS alumni network – Tap into a global resource of more than 78,000 MBA and Executive Education alumni in 167 countries.
- The HBS Alumni Clubs and Associations – Connect with members of 85 Alumni Clubs and Associations worldwide on diverse business and social levels. Besides strengthening alumni relationships and offering opportunities for continued learning, many Clubs and Associations provide community service, reinforcing the HBS mission "to educate leaders who make a difference in the world."
- The Baker Library services – Access a comprehensive collection of content assets and thought-leadership pieces on wide-ranging aspects of management and leadership online at http://www.library.hbs.edu/resources_alumni.html.
- The HBS Publishing Alumni Plus Program – Identify yourself as an alumni member when placing an order and receive a 20-percent discount on regularly priced items. This includes HBS Press books, Harvard Business Review article reprints, and case studies (subscriptions not included). If other discounts are offered (such as quantity or special pricing), the lowest available discount will apply. After completing a program at the School, alumni will receive a free one-year subscription to Harvard Business Review.
- A 30-percent discount on all HBS Executive Education Open-Enrollment programs
- A lifelong HBS email forwarding address
"The ultimate value of this program comes from the people you meet and the influence they bring. Through the personal interactions with my classmates, I gained a grander understanding of the value and necessity of building a network of people around me. The overall experience was literally life changing – I left the program a different leader."
Dr. David Helmick [Manager – Materials Design], Carpenter Technology Corporation, U.S.
Because a diverse participant mix is an important part of every HBS Executive Education program, we look for candidates who reflect a broad range of industries, functions, countries, and backgrounds to enrich the learning experience.
Fees, Payments, and Cancellations
The program fee covers tuition, books, case materials, accommodations, and most meals.
No payment is necessary until you have been accepted into an HBS Executive Education program. After admission notification, we will send you an invoice via email; payment is due within 30 days of the invoice date. If admission is within 30 days prior to the start of the program, payment is due upon receipt of the invoice. Payment is required prior to the program start date. We accept payment by company check, bank wire transfer, or credit card (American Express, MasterCard, Visa). Details are included on the program invoice.
If you need to cancel or defer participation, you must submit your request in writing more than 30 days before the start of the program to receive a full refund. Due to program demand and the volume of preprogram preparation, cancellations or deferrals received 14 to 30 days prior to the start of the program are subject to a fee of one-half of the program fee. Requests received within 14 days are subject to full payment.
Although there are no formal educational requirements, admission is a selective process based on professional achievement and organizational responsibility. We look for professionals who have demonstrated business talent and leadership potential.
HBS Executive Education programs enrich both participants and their sponsoring organizations, and require full commitment from each party. While participants devote time and intellect to the learning experience, sponsoring organizations agree to relieve individuals of their work responsibilities during the program.
We deliberately design our programs to encourage individual growth and to foster productive interaction among participants. For that reason, proficiency in written and spoken English is essential. If English is your second language, or if you have less than one year's experience working in an English-speaking environment, HBS requires a brief statement documenting proficiency in English-language skills, both conversational and written. This may include a list of the English-language certification programs that you have completed; the degrees you have earned at English-speaking colleges and universities; or the results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) exam. The Admissions Committee also may request a telephone interview.
This program requires the submission of a separate sponsoring statement. Completed by the sponsoring executive within your company, this statement provides the Admissions Committee with a better understanding of your background, roles, and potential as a leader.
Program participants must be nominated and sponsored by their current employer. The completed application, sponsoring statement, and all required documents must be received in order to prepare the application for review by the Admissions Committee.
To apply, you may use our online form or download an application and a sponsoring statement. Please note that if you apply online, your sponsoring executive will be sent an email that includes a link to the online sponsoring statement form. You also may request a brochure by mail.
If you are submitting your application online, we will promptly acknowledge receipt of your submission via email. In the unlikely event that an email acknowledgment is not received, please contact the Admissions Committee by email: firstname.lastname@example.org, phone: +1-617-495-6226, or fax: +1-617-496-1731.
If you choose to submit a printed application, be sure to type or print legibly and sign your application. Send the application to the address or fax number listed on the form. Mailed or faxed applications are processed and acknowledged promptly upon receipt via email.
Complete Your Application
Please answer all questions thoroughly—the Admissions Committee will only consider completed applications. After reviewing your application and making the necessary edits or corrections, print or copy the application for your records.
Meet the Deadlines
We request applications at least four weeks in advance of the program start date. Early application does not guarantee admission. Programs often fill to capacity, so early application is recommended.
Notification of Acceptance
We acknowledge receipt of all applications and maintain all application information in strict confidentiality.
To optimize the learning experience and maximize the exchange of ideas, the Admissions Committee selects a class that balances each participant's experience, the scope of his or her current responsibilities, and the type of organization.
The Admissions Committee begins reviewing applications four months before the start date, and qualified candidates are admitted on a rolling, space-available basis. Once the review process has begun, applicants are notified within three weeks via email regarding Admissions Committee decisions. If your application is received within three weeks of the program's start date, the Admissions Committee will notify you of their decision as soon as possible.
For further assistance, contact our client service specialists at: 1-800-427-5577 (outside the U.S., dial +1-617-495-6555).