Q. What do you look forward to the most when the program begins?
I love the fact that every few months we have a new group of executives here on campus, most for the first time. They arrive with a lot of energy because they’re at Harvard Business School, and coming here is something that many of them have aspired to for much of their careers. Even the most successful among them feel some anxiety at first, but then they settle in and find themselves surrounded by other global leaders with accomplished backgrounds. It’s fun to see the same group only a week later, totally immersed in the program and sharing a close bond with their fellow participants.
Q. Do you have any tips for incoming participants before they arrive?
Yes, I have a few pieces of advice. First, try to relax. You may feel a lot of anxiety about coming to HBS. This experience is an opportunity to be hyper-focused on yourself as a leader and what it takes to bring your business to the next level.
Second, fully engage in the program. Be prepared to read and participate. You're going to learn to be open, to really embrace the opportunity that's in front of you, and to make the most of the global network you will find here. That’s a wonderful thing.
Third, be introspective. This may be the only time in your adult life, and certainly professionally, that you have an opportunity to take three weeks away from your day-to-day responsibilities to focus on who you are as an individual and as a leader and explore how you can more fully exercise the impact that you have.
And finally, take advantage of this time away from your business to truly allow your key leadership team to take the helm. I guarantee that you will emerge with a clearer sense of their capabilities, as well as your capacity to set proper context as a leader.
Q. What are participants most excited about when they arrive?
Though all of the executives who attend OPM are successful business leaders, it’s amazing to see how important HBS is to them. For many, this has been a lifelong goal. People come from all over the world. When they get here, they realize that they are surrounded by other highly successful professionals. They take a lot of pride in being here, and when they leave, they embrace being a member of the HBS community.
Q. What differentiates OPM from other programs these founders/owners might consider?
Based on my own research, and what I've consistently heard from our participants, our program is the only offering of its kind on the market. It is the only program in the world that takes CEOs out of their context for a total of nine weeks over a three-year period, puts them in a global peer group with other CEOs, and then grants them HBS alumni status. No other program with this type of curriculum is as focused, as comprehensive, and as global. OPM is absolutely unparalleled.
Q. What changes do you see in participants between modules?
I think Lynda Applegate, faculty chair of OPM, says it best. Speaking to executives when they first arrive, she tells them: "You’ve all been successful at running your businesses. Here in OPM, our objective is to teach you how to run your business on purpose." I love this message because it encapsulates the essence of the transformation that happens to participants in this program. Participants emerge from OPM with a better sense of the mechanisms behind their day-to-day decisions, as well as the judgment to reach new heights in their professional and personal lives.
Q. What are you looking for when you assemble a class?
One of the hallmarks of the HBS pedagogy is peer learning. For this model to succeed, it requires the right combination of experienced, global perspectives in the conversation. That's why my colleagues and I spend a great deal of time carefully constructing each cohort. In OPM, we specifically look to assemble a globally diverse group of principals—business owners who are active in the day-to-day operations of the business and who have as a key objective to accelerate the growth of the company. Everyone in the room is a president, CEO, COO, managing director, or executive director of a company in which they hold significant equity.