Corporate Finance

Course Number 1416

Corporate Finance: CFO

Professor C. Fritz Foley

Fall; Q1Q2; 3 credits
28 Sessions
Corporate Finance: Strategy & Finance

Professor Ben Esty

Spring; Q3Q4; 3 credits
28 Sessions

Career Focus

This course provides a general management perspective on corporate finance and is designed to improve your ability to create value. It should appeal to students who want to work as finance professionals within organizations; as strategy consultants or investment bankers who advise organizations; or as private equity, public equity, venture capital, or hedge fund investors. The course should also appeal to students who simply want to deepen their understanding of corporate finance in a range of topics and settings not covered in the required curriculum courses.

Educational Objectives

The goal of the course is to provide students with the knowledge, skills, and judgment required to make good investment, financing, and operating decisions. The course emphasizes the development of practical insights rather than formal theories. We will refine and extend the analytical tools covered in RC Finance 1 and 2, and apply value-based management techniques to a broad set of business decisions.

Course Content and Organization

The Fall and Spring versions of the course share the following four core modules:

  • Measuring and Driving Performance
  • Managing Funding Sources and Cash
  • Managing Risk
  • Managing Investment

Most class sessions will be case-based. While the two versions of the course will utilize many of the same cases and cover many of the same topics, each will have slightly different focus.
The Fall version of the course emphasizes the activities performed by the chief financial officer (CFO). This focus intends to expose you to what these activities are, to engage you in rich discussions about the key considerations behind fundamental choices CFOs face, and to teach you financial decision making frameworks and processes that firms often use.

In the Fall offering, we will have numerous guests over the course of the semester, most of whom are HBS graduates. In addition to hearing from several case protagonists, we will be joined by CFOs who are subject matter experts on topics we will discuss. In the past, guests have included Amy Hood, CFO of Microsoft; Eleanor Laurans, CFO of Boston Public Schools; Doug Maine, former CFO of MCI and IBM; Jonathan Mariner, former CFO of Major League Baseball; Byron Pollitt, former CFO of Visa; Helen Riley, CFO of Google X; Robert Ryan, former CFO of Medtronic; Dhivya Suryadevara, CFO of GM; Scott Ullem, CFO of Edwards Lifesciences, and several other current or former CFOs and CEOs. We will use part of our time with these guests to discuss their career paths and explore career options.

The Spring version of the course will place more emphasis on strategic analysis-the financial implications of major strategic decisions. It will utilize more strategic concepts (creating and sustaining competitive advantage, managing competitive interactions, etc.) than a typical RC Finance class, and will utilize more financial concepts (measuring value, assessing risk, and analyzing cash flows) than a typical RC Strategy class. In addition to the core modules described above, the Spring version will have modules on the microeconomics of supply and demand, the impact of competition on financial policies, and the value of optionality. The investment decisions are also likely to be slanted more toward infrastructure and project finance.

NOTE: Because there is extensive overlap between the two versions of the course, students cannot take both of them.