Nancy Koehn is a noted historian and the premier authority for providing analysis on the social and economic impact of entrepreneurship, and on leadership in turbulent times. A passionate and incisive speaker, Koehn looks at current economic and political issues facing the world through a historical lens and create solutions tailored to solve today’s problems. As the James E. Robison Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School (HBS), she teaches the MBA elective Entrepreneurial Leadership in Turbulent Times. Her research focuses on entrepreneurial leadership and how leaders, past and present, craft lives of purpose, worth and impact.
Koehn is the author of four books and a contributor to six more. Her forthcoming book, "Forged in Crisis: The Making of Five Legendary Leaders" (Penguin), unpacks the most important lessons from the journeys of Abraham Lincoln, Ernest Shackleton, Rachel Carson, Frederick Douglass and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Her most recently published work, “The Story of American Business: From the Pages of The New York Times” (Harvard Business Press. 2009), tells the story of American business history as seen through the lens of The New York Times news reporting. The book encompasses more than 100 articles spanning two centuries with a focus on three major themes: the corporation, the changing nature of work, and defining moments in technology. Her second book, “Brand New: How Entrepreneurs Earned Consumers’ Trust from Wedgewood to Dell” (Harvard Business Press, 2001), is a valuable study in brand development and entrepreneurship that is part business book, part marketing manua, and part pattern recognition of key cycles. Her keen insight into six well known entrepreneurs has made her a sought after and often quoted expert on consumerism and branding. In addition to numerous books, Koehn has also written and supervised case studies on Bono and U2, Oprah Winfrey, Whole Foods, Starbucks Coffee Company, Ernest Shackleton, Josiah Wedgwood, Estée Lauder, Henry Heinz, Milton Hershey, Celeste Walker, Marshall Field, Dell, and other leaders and organizations.
Outside of her academia career, Koehn works closely with senior executives at a number of large companies on issues including strategic branding and leadership. She has worked extensively as a consultant and executive coach in the advertising and fashion industries. For many years, she served as an advisor to a range of entrepreneurial enterprises. Koehn has also served as a director for Tempur-Pedic International since 2004 and as a director for the health care company Seniorbridge since 2003. She is a member of ING North America’s Advisory board where she has served since 2004. An energetic and insightful orator, Koehn’s recent speaking engagements include “Connecting with Customers in Turbulent Times “and “Leading in Turbulent Times.” In the past year, she has presented this work to senior executives in the retail, restaurant, financial and information technology industries.
Koehn has also showcased her talent as a moderator at the World Economic Forum, receiving the highest of reviews. She has appeared on Good Morning America, CNBC’s “Moneywheel,” Nightly Business Report, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, A&E’s “Biography,” CNN’s “Money Line” and many other television programs. She is also a frequent commentator on National Public Radio. In 2001, Business 2.0 named Koehn one of 19 leading business gurus in the U. S. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Stanford University, a master’s in public policy from the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government, and a master’s and doctorate in European history from Harvard University.
Nancy Koehn’s Website
Harvard Business School Faculty Page