Sandra J. Sucher
MBA Class of 1966 Professor of Management Practice
SANDRA J. SUCHER joined the Technology and Operations Management Unit faculty of Harvard Business School after 25 years in industry and nonprofit management. Presently, she leads and teaches the required MBA course, “Leadership and Corporate Accountability” and also leads and teaches "The Moral Leader" – an elective in the MBA curriculum. She has taught "Technology and Operations Management" and related courses in various Executive Education programs. Her current research focuses on layoffs and the management of labor mobility, leadership and character development, 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.
This research project examines a profoundly difficult and practical question facing managers around the world: How in an era of global competition, can managers make good on their responsibiities to their employees, companies, communities and the countries in which they do business? The project will focus on layoffs - the sharp point of the spear of workforce management in a global world. It will take a global perspective, examining layoffs and the management of labor mobility from the standpoint of economics, philosophy, law, and psychology, examine how managers make decisions about the location of work, and search for useful models at the company and country levels. Begun as a collaboration with two HBS MBA students, Elana Green and David Rosales, the project has already developed teaching materials on the effects of layoffs and best practices in managing them, and has created a series of video interviews with employees who have been laid off. Video interviews of laid-off employees and managers who conduct layoffs will be conducted globally, beginning with India, and will include Europe, Latin America, and China.
In 2007 and 2008, Professor Sucher published an instructor manual and student textbook based on 'The Moral Leader,' a literature-based course on leadership that has been taught at Harvard Business School for more than 20 years. The course focuses on core ethical questions that managers wrestle with: What is the nature of a moral challenge? How do people “reason morally?” What do these look like when they are undertaken by leaders – individuals who must make decisions under conditions of responsibility for others?
The Management of Differences
Professor Sucher has developed cases and other teaching materials that aim to provide thought-provoking, real-world examples of the ways in which social identity differences emerge and are managed in the workplace. These materials include "Differences at Work," 11 mini-cases based on HBS students' own experiences of social identity challenges in the workplace (developed with Robin Cherry Glass (MBA/MPA 2007) and Professor Robin Ely), conceptual notes on the individual experience and leadership challenges of managing differences, and, most recently, "Global Diversity and Inclusion at Royal Dutch Shell," a case that examines the challenges of managing differences in 100 countries around the world.