01 Oct 1996

At HBS Workshop, New CEOs Tune Up for the Top

by Jon Prestage


Last spring, a small, select group of new CEOs and CEO-designates from corporations with revenues of $1 billion or more came to Soldiers Field to participate in the second session of the New CEO Workshop, an HBS program led by Professor Michael E. Porter. The program's inaugural session was held last November.

The goal of the intensive three-day program is to bring together, by invitation, about a dozen leaders from major American, Canadian, and British companies and team them with experienced CEOs and senior HBS faculty to discuss the issues and challenges confronting new chief executives of large, complex corporations. According to Porter, "The program has been a tremendous success. The workshop gives all participants a unique opportunity to talk with peers about matters of mutual interest and importance, as they assume the highest levels of leadership in their organizations. From faculty member to CEO, everyone in the workshop is intensely involved in the learning experience."

During the May workshop, a total of ten sessions focused on topics such as near-term organizational challenges; the creation of a strategic corporate vision; leadership methods; and the development of effective relationships with boards of directors. In addition to Porter, other HBS faculty members teaching in those sessions included Professor Jay W. Lorsch, a leading expert on corporate governance and boards of directors, and Professor Carl S. Sloane, an authority on corporate strategy. HBS professor Thomas N. Urban, recently retired chairman and CEO of Pioneer Hi-Bred International, participated as a mentor and resource. An alumnus of the first workshop, J.A. ("Gus") Blanchard III, president and CEO of Deluxe Corporation, also served as a resource in the second workshop.

Porter plans to hold the sessions twice each year, and, accordingly, another session of the New CEO Workshop will take place next month, from November 7 ­ 9. In addition, Porter notes, "We want to accommodate the requests of the workshop's alumni to bring the group together again to focus on the period of transition that follows the first twelve to eighteen months in office."


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