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John R. Wells

Professor of Management Practice

Professor of Management Practice

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John R. Wells Biography

John Wells is a Professor of Management Practice in the Strategy Unit at Harvard Business School where he teaches the first year core course in strategy and his own second year elective course on strategic innovation and change. He also teaches in several executive education programs.

Dr. Wells graduated from Oxford University with first class honors in Physics, focusing on nuclear and solid state. Following training as a cost and management accountant at Unilever, he attended Harvard Business School, where he was a George F. Baker Scholar and graduated as Valedictorian of the MBA Class of 1979. After two years at Boston Consulting Group, he joined Harvard Business School's Faculty to teach Industry and Competitor Analysis and Business Policy. In 1982 he was awarded a Dean's Doctoral Fellowship; he received his doctorate in 1984 after completing his thesis "In Search of Synergy", which quantified the impact of synergy on corporate profitability. The same year he was appointed Assistant Professor in the Business Policy Faculty, conducting research on the dynamics of competition and the application of artificial intelligence techniques to business problems.

In 1986, Dr. Wells became Chief Executive of Monitor Company Europe Ltd., a subsidiary of the firm he helped create with Michael Porter and Mark Fuller. He built the European practice and directed strategy studies for numerous firms and national governments. During this time he also co-founded Datapaq, a digital data acquisition company serving the automotive and packaging industries that continues to be the leader in its field.

Dr. Wells joined PepsiCo in 1994, initially as CFO of the European snacks division. He was then appointed CEO of Wedel, a PepsiCo affiliate and Poland's number one chocolate, biscuits, confectionery and snacks producer. In 1997 he was appointed CFO of Frito-Lay International, based in Dallas, Texas, with responsibility for all international snack operations.

In 1998, Dr. Wells joined the board of Thomson Travel Group, the UK's largest holiday company, responsible for the Group's strategy, mergers and acquisitions and e-commerce development.

Dr. Wells invests in and advises a number of start-ups, and in early 2002, joined Archie Norman, the ex-Chairman of ASDA in the UK, in a $1.3 billion management buy-in of Energis, the UK's third largest telecommunications service provider. Energis was later sold to Cable and Wireless Plc.

In the summer of 2002, he rejoined the Harvard Business School Faculty as the James M. Collins Fund Senior Lecturer in Strategy. In August 2003, he was appointed Professor of Management Practice.

In 2008 Dr. Wells became the president of IMD, International Institute for Management Development, in Switzerland before returning to Harvard Business School as a Professor of Management Practice in 2011.

Dr. Wells’ current research addresses how companies overcome inertia and increase their strategic responsiveness. He is examining strategic, structural and human factors that impede change and how they might be overcome. Some of his research is explained in his recent book, Strategic IQ: Creating Smarter Corporations, published in June 2012. John has also written over 50 case studies on strategy and change. He is currently examining the role of responsible leadership in business and society, the impact of social networking on strategic change and the importance of relevant learning.

Dr. Wells has worked and lived in Poland, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the USA. His business responsibilities and research have taken him to all corners of the world.

John R. Wells Speaking Topics

  • Strategic IQ

John R. Wells Videos

  • Traits of Successful Companies
  • The Four Forms of Intelligence

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John R. Wells is a keynote speaker and industry expert who speaks on a wide range of topics such as Strategic IQ. The estimated speaking fee range to book John R. Wells for your event is available upon request. John R. Wells generally travels from and can be booked for (private) corporate events, personal appearances, keynote speeches, or other performances. Similar motivational celebrity speakers are Nitin Nohria, Robert Simons, Robert Eccles, Michael L. Tushman and Joseph L. Bower. Contact All American Speakers for ratings, reviews, videos and information on scheduling John R. Wells for an upcoming live or virtual event.

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