What you'll learn

  • 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 description

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. 

Course Structure

Leading with Finance consists of approximately 40 hours of material developed by Professor Mihir Desai and delivered over a six-week period with a flexible program structure. There is no set time to log in. You complete the coursework, which consists of a highly engaging mix of short videos, multimedia cases, interactive learning exercises, and written reflections on your own time while meeting regular deadlines. There will be weekly quizzes and a capstone assignment due at the end of the program. All course material is delivered through the innovative HBX online platform. While there is no direct real-time interaction with the faculty built into the course, current and former participants may be invited to special events, both on and off-line, where HBX faculty are present.

The HBX Learning Model centers around the Harvard Business School case method, featuring interviews with business leaders and executives from companies around the world who candidly discuss challenges they've faced or obstacles they've overcome. We ask you to step into their shoes and engage with your peers to work through these real-world business scenarios.

The case protagonists in Leading with Finance represent some of the best and brightest from the worlds of corporate finance, private equity, and investment management. You will learn how corporations interact with capital markets with CFOs Laurence Debroux (Heineken) and Paul Clancy (Biogen), and valuation methods with Equity Research Analyst Alberto Moel (Sanford Bernstein).

Topics covered in the program include:

  • Financial Analysis
  • Finance versus Accounting
  • Capital Markets
  • Creating Value
  • Valuation
  • Capital Allocation

Participants in Leading with Finance are eligible for a Certificate of Completion from HBX and Harvard Business School. To earn the certificate, you 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.

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.



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

Associated Schools

  • Harvard Business School

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