Leonard A. Schlesinger returned to the Harvard Business School as a Baker Foundation Professor of Business Administration in July of 2013 after concluding a five-year term as the 12th president of Babson College. At HBS he teaches the first-year MBA required courses Leadership and Corporate Accountability and FIELD 3 (Integrative Intelligence) and a second-year elective course General Management: Processes and Action. At Babson, he successfully managed the challenges of improving academic, reputational, and financial outcomes for the college. The school simultaneously has been ranked as the #1 institution for entrepreneurship for both its undergraduate and graduate programs by both Business Week and U.S. News and World Reports for the entire history of their reporting (i.e. 20 years at the graduate level for U.S. News).
Prior to Babson, Schlesinger was at Limited Brands, now known as L Brands, based in Columbus, Ohio, where he served in executive positions from 1999–2007, most recently as Vice Chairman and Chief Operating Officer. From 1985–1988, he was Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Au Bon Pain.
His earlier academic career includes twenty years at Harvard Business School where he served as the George Fisher Baker Jr. Professor of Business Administration, leading MBA and executive education programs. Courses he taught included Organizational Behavior, Human Resource Management, General Management, and Service Management. Schlesinger is well-known for his pioneering research and publications on the “Service Profit Chain.” He also was architect and chair of Harvard Business School’s MBA Essential Skills and Foundations programs. After his tenure on the Harvard Business School faculty, he served as a Professor of Sociology and Public Policy and Senior Vice President and Counselor to the President at Brown University from 1998-1999.
Schlesinger has lectured and consulted on service quality, customer satisfaction, entrepreneurship and organizational change for over 200 major corporations, non-profit organizations, governments, and international leadership organizations around the world. He was an active leader in the design and development of the “Work-Out!” initiative at General Electric and the “Reinventing Government” process for the U.S. Department of Labor.
His writings on entrepreneurship, service management and organizational management have been widely published. He is the author or co-author of 12 books, including Own Your Future (AMACOM, 2014), Just Start: Take action, Embrace uncertainty, Create the future (Harvard Business School Press, 2012), Action Trumps Everything (Black Ink Press, 2010), The Value Profit Chain (Free Press, 2003), The Service Profit Chain (Free Press, 1997) and The Real Heroes of Business ... and Not a CEO among Them (Doubleday Currency, 1994), and has written numerous articles for academic audiences as well as for The New York Times, Fast Company, and Harvard Business Review. He has served on the editorial boards of five major academic journals and has published numerous management case studies that have sold well over one million copies. He also has completed three video series on service management.
Schlesinger currently serves as Vice Chairman of the Board of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), and as Director of Viewpost, LLC, Demandware, Inc. and Restoration Hardware, Inc., a member of the Corporation of the Winsor School, and is a member of the President’s Council of the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering. He also serves as an advisory council member of Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Small Businesses Initiative, and as a member of both the Council on Competitiveness and the Council on Foreign Relations.
Schlesinger holds a Doctor of Business Administration from Harvard Business School, an MBA from Columbia University, a Bachelor of Arts in American Civilization from Brown University and an Honorary Doctor of Laws from Babson College.