Sandra J. Sucher

MBA Class of 1966 Professor of Management Practice, Joseph L. Rice, III Faculty Fellow

SANDRA J. SUCHER joined the Technology and Operations Management Unit faculty of Harvard Business School after 25 years in industry and nonprofit management. She has led and taught the required MBA course, “Leadership and Corporate Accountability” and has taught "The Moral Leader" – an elective in the MBA curriculum. She has also taught "Technology and Operations Management" and related courses in various Executive Education programs. Her current research focuses on the human costs of layoffs and their alternatives; she also studies moral leadership, learning through literature, and the management of differences. Professor Sucher has published two books on the Moral Leader course: an instructor’s guide, Teaching The Moral Leader: A Literature-Based Leadership Course (Routledge 2007), and a student textbook, The Moral Leader: Challenges, Tools, and Insights (Routledge 2008).

From 1986 until 1998, Sucher worked at Fidelity Investments. As Vice President of Corporate Quality, she focused the firm's division-level quality groups on customer loyalty research. As Vice President of Retail Service Quality, she set service strategy for the retail business and improved service and operations processes, introducing process management as a framework for cross-functional improvement. As Vice President of Human Resources for Fidelity's Service Company, she introduced statistical process control to improve the quality of operations performance in Fidelity's retail back office.

Prior to Fidelity, Sucher spent 10 years in fashion retailing at Filene's, a Boston-based department store chain. She wrote the proposal, approved by Federated Department Stores, to expand Filene's Basement from a single store to a national chain. She led a reorganization of the business, creating a separate career path for store management executives. In her last assignment, as Vice President of Customer Service, she improved customer service for Filene's then 14-unit regional business.

Sucher began her career as a Director of Education and Research for The Sanctuary, Inc., a non-profit drop-in drug treatment, education, and research facility.

Sucher's Board assignments include: Board of Governors - Harvard Business School Association of Boston (2000 - 2005); Director of Port Financial (2000 - 2003); Chairman of the Better Business Bureau (1994-1996); Director of The Eliot Bank (1986 -1990); Radcliffe Management Seminars Program Advisory Board (1980 - 2000); and Director of the National Coordinating Council on Drug Education (1972-74).

Sucher received her MBA from Harvard Business School in 1976 with first- and second-year honors; she also earned a Masters of Arts in Teaching from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a BA from the University of Michigan. Sucher is a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

  1. The Moral Leader: Challenges, Insights and Tools

    Successful leaders – at any level and in any arena – are inevitably presented with moral and ethical choices. This unique and innovative textbook is designed to encourage students and managers to confront those fundamental moral challenges, to develop skills in moral analysis and judgment, and to come to terms with their own definition of moral leadership and how it can be translated into action. Drawing on the inspiration of major literary and historical figures such as Machiavelli, Conrad, Shackleton and Achebe, and based upon an impressive array of literary sources, including novels, plays, history and biography, the book centers on four questions implicitly asked of all leaders:

    • What is the nature of a moral challenge?
    • How do people 'reason morally'?
    • How do leaders contend with the moral choices they face?
    • How is moral leadership different from leadership in general?

    The Moral Leader is based upon the renowned course of the same name taught at Harvard Business School for over two decades. With an emphasis on decision-making and action, students learn to identify moral problems, to address them systematically, and to develop skills that aid them throughout their studies and their professional lives. At times challenging, insightful, and always illuminating, this book is essential reading for all serious students of leadership, management, business ethics or policy.

    Visit the companion website at




  2. Teaching the Moral Leader: A Literature-Based Leadership Course

    This book is a comprehensive, practical manual to help instructors integrate moral leadership in their own courses, drawing from the experience and resources of the Harvard Business School course 'The Moral Leader', an MBA elective taken by thousands of HBS students over nearly twenty years. Through the close study of  literature--novels, plays, and historical accounts-- followed by rigorous classroom discussion, this innovative course encourages students to confront fundamental moral challenges, to develop skills in moral analysis and judgment, and to come to terms with their own definition of moral leadership. Using this guide's background material and detailed teaching plans, instructors will be well prepared to lead their students in the study of this vital and important subject. Featuring a website to run alongside that links the manual with the textbook and provides a wealth of extra resources, including on-line links to Harvard Business School case studies and teaching notes this manual forms a perfect complement to The Moral Leader core text also by Sandra Sucher.

    The detailed and hands-on nature of the guide makes it possible for instructors, with or without a specialized background, to replicate the 13-session Harvard Business School course, or to integrate moral leadership into an existing course, or as a module, or as stand-alone sessions. The manual presents flexible class plans, easily adaptable to a wide variety of business and academic topics. It suggests how to adapt the course to other settings, provides supporting materials, and reviews the approach to teaching "The Moral Leader," differentiating it from other literature-based courses.  The author, a Harvard Business School professor with a successful record in teaching this course, also brings into the text the kind of real world understanding of effective leadership development that comes from decades of experience as a high level corporate executive.

    An accompanying student book, focused on class preparation and the context of each work, helps students address questions like:  What is the nature of a moral challenge? How do people "reason morally"? How do leaders – formal and informal – contend with the moral choices they face? How is moral leadership different from leadership of any other kind? Struggling with these questions, both individually and as members of a vibrant learning community, students internalize moral leadership concepts and choices, and develop the skills to pursue it in their careers and personal lives.