Corporate Financial Operations

Course Number 1416

Professor C. Fritz Foley
Fall; Q1Q2; 3 credits
28 Sessions

Career Focus

This course focuses on the role of the chief financial officer. It aims to train students to work as finance professionals within organizations or as service providers to people in such roles. We will study the skills and attributes that make CFOs effective in a variety of contexts, including high growth young firms, firms owned by private equity investors, large publicly listed companies, non-profit organizations, and other entities. The issues we will cover are highly relevant to investors, bankers, and consultants who serve clients facing decisions with a financial component.

Over the course of the semester, there will be several class visitors. We will use our time with our guests to discuss their career paths and, in many cases, the choices they have made since graduating from HBS.

Educational Objectives

The goal of the course is to provide students with the knowledge and skills required to create and capture value as financial managers. We will augment and refine the analytical tools covered in first-year finance and learn how to apply value-based management techniques to a broad set of organizational choices. The intention of the course is to not only provide students with knowledge, but also to provide guidance on how ideas can be put into practice effectively. By the end of the semester, student will be better able to measure and drive performance, evaluate new business opportunities, manage risks, and source and deploy capital.

Course Content and Organization

Most course sessions are centered around a case, although there will be some panel discussions and exercises. There are five modules in the course that each relate to a particular set of activities that CFOs perform. They are:

  • Measuring and Driving Performance
  • Managing Cash and Sources of Funding
  • Managing Investment, Divestitures, and Portfolios of Businesses
  • Managing Risk and Regulation
  • Communicating with Boards and Capital Providers

The cases consider a particular decision a financial manager faces and provide an opportunity to discuss a broad set of relevant considerations, potential pitfalls and false logics, and the managerial techniques that are likely to be most effective.