Harvard Business School Senior Executive Program for Africa – Leadership – Programs – Executive Education

Harvard business school 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.

HBS offers this program in partnership with the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) of the University of Pretoria in South Africa.


Benefits – Harvard Business School Senior Executive Program

Featuring a regional in-person module, an independent work module, and an in-person 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

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.

Program for Leadership Development participants earns 10 PLDA Points on completion of this program.

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.

Program Format

The program includes three modules over five months. The intensive in-person Module 1 takes place in Johannesburg, South Africa, and includes a focus on strategy, innovation, and leadership through networking, faculty presentations, and simulations. Module 2 incorporates an independent business challenge project at your location of choice. This time back at your organization provides the opportunity to begin incorporating new strategies and tactics immediately.

The intensive in-person Module 3 on the HBS campus combines 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. You will also have ample opportunity for interaction with faculty and peers inside and outside the class sessions.

Collaborative learning is an integral part of the experience. To maximize the benefit for everyone, you are expected to attend every session, complete all assignments, and contribute effectively in the class and in small groups.


1: Strategy, innovation, and leadership
Format: In-Person, Johannesburg, South Africa

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.

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You will also learn how to evolve your leadership style in ways that enhance your organization’s success. Before attending 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.) Key topics include:

  • Creating superior customer value
  • Choosing your market position
  • Designing corporate strategy in a multi-business organization
  • Developing design-thinking capabilities


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

2: Independent work: business challenge project

Self-Paced, Applying your learning in your workplace;

Time to put your newfound knowledge into action at your workplace. 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.

3: Thinking globally, driving local and regional growth, and sustaining success
Format: In-Person, HBS Campus, Boston, U.S.

Convening 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

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 common space with your living/discussion 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
  • Certificate of completion from the Harvard Business School Executive Education Senior Executive Leadership Program for Africa

Upcoming Session

Dates: 27 MAR-08 JUL 2022
Format: Blended
Location: Virtual, HBS Campus
Fee: $26,000
The program fee covers tuition, books, case materials, accommodations, and most meals.

27 MAR-01 APR 2022 – Module 1 (Johannesburg, South Africa)
02 APR-02 JUL 2022 – Module 2 (Virtual, Self-Paced)
03-08 JUL 2022 – Module 3 (HBS Campus)

Admissions Criteria and Process

We admit candidates to specific sessions on a rolling, space-available basis, and encourage you to apply as early as possible. Although this program has no formal educational requirements, admission is a selective process based on your professional achievement and organizational responsibilities.

The Application Process

We select applicants who embrace challenge, seek genuine personal and professional growth, and are ready to innovate—in themselves and in their organizations. The curious, open-minded executive who commits wholeheartedly to the program will find the Senior Executive Program—Africa to be a highly stimulating, rewarding—even life-changing experience.

How to Apply

  • The application, telling us about your experience, your organization, and your current responsibilities, goals, and challenges
  • A letter of reference from someone familiar with your work

To review both the application and letter of reference, download the Application PDF. You can submit your application via our online Application Form or by returning a completed PDF. When submitting the online application form, you will be asked for the email address of the individual serving as your reference. That individual will receive an email with a link to an online letter of reference form.

Answering Your Questions

Our Program Advising team can help you at any stage of the admissions process—starting with identifying the program that best addresses your learning and development goals. Contact a program advisor via email or call 1.800.427.5577 (outside the U.S., call +1.617.495.6555).

Letter of Reference

To gain a deeper understanding of your background and your potential as a leader, we require a letter of reference from a senior executive within your organization, a board member, or an HBS graduate familiar with your role and responsibilities. To submit the letter, follow the instructions in your application.

Application Submission

We recommend that you apply as soon as you can, and at least four weeks before the program start date. You may use our online form or download an application. HBS maintains all application information in strict confidentiality. We acknowledge receipt of applications via email. In the unlikely event that you do not receive an acknowledgment, please email us at or call us at +1.617.495.6226.

English Proficiency

Proficiency in spoken and written English is essential for active participation in fast-moving classes and small group discussions. If English is your second language, or if you have less than one year of experience working in an English-speaking environment, please provide a brief statement documenting your proficiency. We may also ask for an interview.

Learning Commitment

Residency is required for in-person modules and attendance of live synchronous sessions is expected. Your active participation in all classroom sessions, case discussions, and other program activities is essential, so you must be free of other responsibilities during the program.

Application Review

To optimize the learning experience and maximize the exchange of ideas, our Admissions Committee makes selections that balance each participant’s experience, the scope of current responsibilities, and the type of organization. HBS seeks candidates who reflect a broad range of industries, functions, countries, and backgrounds. We review applications monthly and will contact you via email with the Admissions Committee’s decision.
Fee, Payment, and Cancellations
The $26,000 program fee covers tuition, books, case materials, accommodations, and most meals. No payment is necessary until you have been accepted. Payment is required prior to the program start date. 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. 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. <<Apply Now>>

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