Blythe J. McGarvie

Senior Lecturer of Business Administration

Blythe McGarvie has operated profitable business units and managed employees in business endeavors from China to Chile, France to Finland. She has been CFO of a Fortune 500 company in the US and of a leading consumer goods company in Paris. Her best-selling book, Shaking the Globesubtitled Courageous Decision-Makers in a Changing World (published by John Wiley & Sons in 2009) provides entrepreneurs and executives with research and action ideas to overcome obstacles in a competitive and interconnected world.  She is the author of Fit In Stand Out, subtitled Mastering the FISO Factor: The Key to Leadership Effectiveness in Business and Life (published by McGraw-Hill in 2005). This book has reached wide distribution in the U.S. and published outside the US, including in Spanish, Indian and Russian language versions.

Blythe McGarvie has operated profitable business units and managed employees in business endeavors from China to Chile, France to Finland. She has been CFO of a Fortune 500 company in the US and of a leading consumer goods company in Paris. Her best-selling book, Shaking the Globe, subtitled Courageous Decision-Makers in a Changing World (published by John Wiley & Sons in 2009) provides entrepreneurs and executives with research and action ideas to overcome obstacles in a competitive and interconnected world.  She is the author of Fit In Stand Out, subtitled Mastering the FISO Factor: The Key to Leadership Effectiveness in Business and Life (published by McGraw-Hill in 2005). This book has reached wide distribution in the U.S. and published outside the US, including in Spanish, Indian and Russian language versions.

In 2012 McGarvie joined the faculty of Harvard Business School where she teaches Financial Reporting and Control to first-year MBA candidates as well as in-field and executive education classes. For ten years before joining HBS, Ms. McGarvie served as Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Leadership for International Finance, offering a global perspective for clients seeking profitable growth by providing leadership seminars for corporate and academic groups. She serves as a member of the boards of directors of Accenture, Viacom, Wawa, LKQ, and Sonoco, and formerly served on the boards of Travelers Insurance, Pepsi Bottling Group and Lafarge NA. In 2012, she accepted the invitation to join the Audit Committee Learning Network, a group of Audit Committee Chairs of American and European companies with revenues of $10 billion or more. In 2014, for the fifth year in a row, McGarvie gave the keynote address at the International Women's Day Conference in Washington, D.C. In prior years, McGarvie gave the keynote address in Bombay, London, Minneapolis, and Chicago. In 2012, 2010 and 2008, NACD/Directorship selected Ms. McGarvie as one of the Top 100 Most Renowned and Influentials in Corporate Governance.  In December 2009, Ms. McGarvie received an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Old Dominion University. 

McGarvie is renowned for her perspective on leadership decision-making, corporate governance and worldwide economic trends. Past academic appointments include as Senior Fellow for Northwestern University’s Kellogg Innovation Network, a faculty member of Duke CE and Visiting Leader at Shanghai-based CEIBS. Prior to founding the LIF Group, McGarvie was a pioneering CFO, and in 1995, was one of only ten female CFOs in the Fortune 500.  Ms. McGarvie was Chief Financial Officer of BIC Group, a French company traded on the Euronext, famous for its pens, lighters and shavers. For five years prior to joining BIC, Ms. McGarvie was Senior Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer of Hannaford Bros. Co., a Fortune 500 company, acquired by the Delhaize Group in 1999.  Her international experience includes being based in Paris, France for BIC Group and as Chief Administrative Officer – Pacific Rim of Sara Lee Corporation, based in Chicago, where she was responsible for the finance, strategy, information systems and human resources functions for the personal product business in Asia, Australia and South America, growing the division from $124 million to $600 million in sales over a three-year period ending in 1994.

Ms. McGarvie is a Certified Public Accountant. She earned an MBA from Northwestern University’s J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management, who selected her for the Schaffner Award in 1992, presented annually to an alumnus (a) who is pre-eminent in his or her field and who provided outstanding service to Kellogg. She earned an Advanced Professional Director certification from the American College of Corporate Directors in 2012. Separately, she is a member of numerous non-profit organizations including the Lyric Opera of Chicago Board of Directors, The Chicago Network, NACD (National Association of Corporate Directors) and CIVIC Institute.

Books

  1. Shaking the Globe: Courageous Decision-Making in a Changing World

    Citation:

    McGarvie, Blythe J. Shaking the Globe: Courageous Decision-Making in a Changing World. John Wiley & Sons, 2009.
  2. Fit In Stand Out: Mastering the FISO Factor, The Key to Leadership Effectiveness in Business and Life

    While studying and practicing business effectiveness, leadership expert Blythe McGarvie uncovered a vital lesson: successful leaders are systems thinkers. Two forces power business systems: integration (Fit In) and transformation (Stand Out). By mastering the FISO Factor, you will establish the platform of support required to build your leadership prowess while taking your company beyond the status quo. Our discussion will include the framework of a revolutionary program—the FISO Factor—which will help anyone in business become a more effective, influential leader. We will provide the keys to Fit In, Stand Out by developing six catalytic agents (financial acuity, integrity, linkages, learning, perspective and global citizenship). Discover solutions to create sustainable economic success.

    Keywords: Integration; Leadership; Transformation;

    Citation:

    McGarvie, Blythe J. Fit In Stand Out: Mastering the FISO Factor, The Key to Leadership Effectiveness in Business and Life. McGraw-Hill, 2005.

Journals

  1. Taking Stock of Your Courage Quotient

    Citation:

    McGarvie, Blythe J. "Taking Stock of Your Courage Quotient." Business Finance (Online) (September 13, 2011).
  2. A Director's 5 Rules for Difficult Times

    Citation:

    McGarvie, Blythe J. "A Director's 5 Rules for Difficult Times." Directors & Boards 33, no. 3 (Second Quarter 2009).
  3. Play It Safe or Take a Stand? The Experts Respond

    Citation:

    McGarvie, Blythe J. "Play It Safe or Take a Stand? The Experts Respond." Harvard Business Review 88, no. 11 (November 2010).
  4. Creating Organizational Success for Your CEO and Your Shareholders

    Citation:

    McGarvie, Blythe J., and Eleanor Bloxham. "Creating Organizational Success for Your CEO and Your Shareholders." Directors Monthly (February 2006).
  5. Simple Steps to Financial Security

    Citation:

    McGarvie, Blythe J. "Simple Steps to Financial Security." Shattered: Breaking the Glass Ceiling (January–February 2007).
  6. Imagine a World Without Limits

    Citation:

    McGarvie, Blythe J. "Imagine a World Without Limits." Shattered: Breaking the Glass Ceiling (March–April 2007).
  7. Building Business in Foreign Markets

    Citation:

    McGarvie, Blythe J. "Building Business in Foreign Markets." Shattered: Breaking the Glass Ceiling (June–July 2007).
  8. Board Member: To Be or Not To Be?

    Citation:

    McGarvie, Blythe J. "Board Member: To Be or Not To Be?" Shattered: Breaking the Glass Ceiling (2006).
  9. Developing Trust to Stand Out

    Citation:

    McGarvie, Blythe J. "Developing Trust to Stand Out." Shattered: Breaking the Glass Ceiling (September 2006).
  10. Finance for the Non-Finance Professional

    Citation:

    McGarvie, Blythe J. "Finance for the Non-Finance Professional." Shattered: Breaking the Glass Ceiling (October 2006).
  11. The Five A’s of Change

    Citation:

    McGarvie, Blythe J. "The Five A’s of Change." Shattered: Breaking the Glass Ceiling (November–December 2006), 30–31.
  12. Integrity: A Leader's North Star

    Citation:

    McGarvie, Blythe J. "Integrity: A Leader's North Star." SAS Com (Third Quarter 2005).

HBS Cases

  1. Wawa Inc.

    Retailing requires attention to detail and customer and employee loyalty. Wawa is a 50-year old food retailer with almost a cult-like following. With $9 billion in revenues, Wawa is the 50th largest privately-held company in the US. Learn how they have accomplished consistent 15% annual shareholder returns. The Wawa associates (name for employees) have an ESOP which plays a key role in Wawa’s culture of ownership. This case explores the role of incentives and levers of control to create a successful retail chain.

    Keywords: Accounting; Management;

    Citation:

    Campbell, Dennis, Blythe J. McGarvie, and Kristin Stack. "Wawa Inc." Harvard Business School Case 114-086, April 2014.