John D. Macomber

Senior Lecturer of Business Administration

John Macomber is a Senior Lecturer in the Finance unit at Harvard Business School. His professional background includes leadership of real estate, construction, and information technology businesses. At HBS, Mr. Macomber's work focuses on the private finance and delivery of public infrastructure projects in both the developed and emerging worlds.  These include transportation, energy, water/sanitation, and real estate investments that speed economic development, reduce environmental impacts (notably air and water pollution), and facilitate individual opportunity.   His teaching combines infrastructure finance (including public-private partnerships), economic development, and urban planning as well as the impact of techologies like ubiquitous sensors, internet of things, mobile money, big data and analytics, and autonomous vehicles. 

Mr. Macomber is engaged in the Business and Environment Initiative and Social Enterprise Initiatives at HBS and is a member of the Executive Committee of the Harvard University Center for African Studies. He teaches Finance, Real Estate, Urbanization, and Entrepreneurship courses in the elective curriculum and in Executive Education.

Mr. Macomber is the former Chairman and CEO of the George B H Macomber Company, a large regional general contractor; and remains a principal in several real estate partnerships.  He serves or has served on the boards of Young Presidents Organization International (YPO), Boston Private Bank, Mount Auburn Hospital, WGBH Educational Foundation, Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston, and the Appalachian Mountain Club.

Mr. Macomber is a graduate of Dartmouth College (Mathematics in the Social Sciences) and Harvard Business School.

  1. Building Sustainable Cities and Infrastructure

    by John D. Macomber

    This finance elective looks at infrastructure, real estate, economic development, resilience, and innovation in cities and urban design.  The focus is on pragmatic solutions to three of the largest problems of our times:  massive and rapid urbanization as hundreds of millions of people move to cities seeking opportunity;  existing and worsening scarcity of basic resources like clean air, clean water, power, food, coupled with too much trash and too much traffic; and the apparent inability of governments alone to imagine, create, and finance the infrastructure and urban form to address this issues.

    Keywords: urbanization; real estate; social enterprise; environment; infrastructure; finance; economic development; resilience;

  2. Africa: Building Cities: Immersive Field Course

    by John D. Macomber

    This second year elective takes students into the field to assess and report on the opprtunities in the next decade for the private finance and delivery of public infrastructure in the Global South.  In January of 2016 and 2017 the cities studied were Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. In January of 2015 the cities were Lima, Peru and Buenos Aires, Argentina.  40 students work in 8 teams of 5 people each, presening pairwise comparisions of cities.  Eight sectors are studied:  Fossil energy, renewable energy, intercity transit, urban transit, water/sanitation, solid waste/waste to energy, telecomms, and commercial real estate.

    Keywords: cities; urbanization; economic development; infrastructure; sustainability; Africa; Latin America; Peru; Argentina; Ethiopia; Tanzania;

  3. Innovation in Business, Energy and the Environment

    by John D. Macomber

    This MBA Elective is offered as a half credit classroom course and as a full credit classroom plus project course.  Students investigate industries and interventions in a wide range of topics ranging from hydraulic fracturing to nutrition in urban school districts; from large companies to startups, and from investors to regulators.
  4. Exec Ed: Real Estate Executive Seminar: Capital, Partnerships, and Portfolios

    by John D. Macomber

    With both a quest for yield and new opportunities emerging across the real estate supply chain, business leaders must have the financial capabilities, analytical tools, and strategic skills to ensure the long-term profitability of their development projects and portfolios. This multidisciplinary finance and leadership program enables participants to go beyond dealmaking to navigate global real estate markets, manage complexity, and position their organizations for strategic advantage.

    Keywords: real estate;