As a business leader, it is critical that you can understand and communicate the financial implications of your decisions. How will you generate value? How will your decisions impact shareholders?

Leading with Finance is an online program designed to provide you with a thorough understanding of the principles of finance – a toolkit for making smart financial decisions and the confidence to clearly communicate those decisions to key internal and external stakeholders.

This course also highlights the importance of incorporating subjective judgments into financial decision-making, empowering you to firmly grasp the bigger picture and become a more effective leader. Participating in Leading with Finance will allow you to:

  • Understand key financial levers that drive financial performance
  • Discover how and why finance is concerned with cash flow versus profits 
  • Identify ways to create and measure value
  • Examine how the capital markets work and how they affect your business
  • Develop a deep financial intuition that will give you the tools and confidence to make better decisions in your career and life
  • Engage with like-minded peers from around the globe and content developed by the best and brightest of Harvard Business School faculty

Course Structure

The course consists of 30-35 hours of material delivered over a 6-week period with a flexible program structure. Participants are required to complete one module per week and each module concludes with a mandatory quiz. A capstone assignment is due with completion of the final module.

Module 1: Financial Analysis

  • Understand the building blocks of financial analysis: the balance sheet, the income statement, and financial ratios
  • Develop an intuition for the concepts behind the principles of finance

Module 2: Finance versus Accounting

  • Identify the fundamental differences between accounting and finance
  • Examine the use of cash as a measurement of value creation in finance

Module 3: Capital Markets

  • Build a strong understanding of the players in the financial services industry and the roles they each play
  • Examine the financial system and its flaws

Module 4: Creating Value

  • Explore the three pillars of value creation and how to achieve them
  • Discover why capital is costly and how to use this information to benefit your organization

Module 5: Valuation

  • Determine how the future affects value today
  • Compare various valuation methods and closely examine Net Present Value

Module 6: Capital Allocation

  • Discuss the problem of cash
  • Analyze the various options companies have for investing their cash

Participants in Leading with Finance are eligible for a Certificate of Completion from HBX and Harvard Business School. To earn the certificate, participants must successfully complete all coursework by the stated deadlines and actively contribute to the vibrant HBX learning community.

Who would benefit from taking Leading with Finance?

Leading with Finance is designed for individuals who need to look at their business from a deeper financial perspective and who wish to gain the skills and confidence needed to make and convey better financial decisions. This course is also for finance professionals who wish to update their knowledge of finance in order to grow their career.

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What are HBX certificate programs?

HBX certificate programs are focused on one essential business topic. They combine the flexibility of online programming with the rigor and quality of a Harvard Business School education to give participants a unique edge in their careers.


Meet The Faculty

Mihir Desai

Mihir Desai

Mizuho Financial Group Professor of Finance at Harvard Business School; Professor of Law at Harvard Law School

Professor Desai is an award-winning teacher at Harvard and a leading scholar of corporate finance and tax policy. He has been teaching for nearly twenty years to varied student populations, including senior executives from around the world, MBA students, undergraduates and lawyers.

He has published more than 25 case studies, a casebook, and has testified before the U.S. Congress on policy issues. 

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