Teaching and Speaking

John A. Davis is a widely followed thought leader on family enterprise and family wealth.

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Professor John A. Davis is a globally renowned academic and speaker on the topics of family enterprise, family wealth, family office, ownership, governance, leadership, succession, and related themes. He leads the family enterprise programs at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and is a shaper of the family enterprise field. He is an early founder of the family business field as an academic discipline, and created the world’s first academic programs for family business owners and executives.

A lifelong creator of innovative education courses, keynote sessions, and teaching materials, Professor Davis’ classes are among the highest rated and most impactful in the field. His insights in the classroom and on the conference stage stimulate participants to develop themselves professionally and personally, and implement strategies for the sustainability of their families and businesses. An award-winning teacher and researcher, his extensive body of writing and educational materials are used by graduate schools of business around the globe.


Professor Davis delivers keynote addresses at conferences and leads workshops for organizations and families around the world. His sessions provide the latest conceptual thinking with pragmatic tools and strategies for audiences to implement meaningful change within their businesses, family offices, families, and ownership groups as well as for their financial wealth, social impact agendas, and individual careers and lives.

He has spoken at events for the World Economic Forum, Harvard Business Review, YPO and WPO, Family Business Network, Business Families Foundation, Family Firm Institute, HSM (Brazil), Cambridge Institute for Family Enterprise, universities around the world, as well as for global and boutique financial institutions, private member networks, and individual families and companies. A representative sample of his speaking topics are shown below.


Professor Davis is a Senior Lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management where he is launching an innovative new portfolio of family business and family office programs to meet the needs of multigenerational families around the world. He teaches family business management, family office performance, family entrepreneurship, and strategies for family enterprises to position themselves for the future. He is on the Advisory Council of the Inclusive Capitalism Programme on Purposeful Ownership at the Said Business School at the University of Oxford–a research study that explores current family ownership issues.

Prior to MIT, Professor Davis spent 21 years on the faculty of Harvard Business School, where he established the family business management area at Harvard. He is Founding Chair of Harvard’s Families in Business program that he established in 1997 and led for two decades. In the MBA program, Professor Davis created and led the elective course, Management of the Family Business, to explore the management, career, and personal issues found in family-owned companies. It was widely recognized by HBS alumni as one of the most significant and meaningful elective courses in the MBA curriculum.

Professor Davis taught family business management, leadership, ownership, governance, change management, and life planning in numerous executive education programs at Harvard, including the Owner/President Management program, Boards for Private Companies, Key ExecutivesLaunching New VenturesReal Estate Management, Leading and Transforming Family Businesses—China, and  custom programs for executive teams and business owners. He served as faculty chair of the executive program Crossroads: Discovering the Path Ahead, which offers participants at a career or life juncture the opportunity to design a life strategy to achieve their personal and professional goals. He taught the MBA course, Building a Business in the Context of a Life, which addresses entrepreneurship, life planning, and personal and business success.

A pioneer in the family business field, Professor Davis’ 1982 doctoral dissertation at Harvard Business School on father-son work relationships was among the first dissertations globally on a family business topic. An early founder of the family business field as an academic discipline, he created the first research conference on family business in 1985, and co-founded some of the world’s first executive programs for family business owners and executives at IMD and Harvard Business School.

Professor Davis has served on the faculty of the Graduate School of Business at the University of Southern California, and has lectured on family business management topics at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Stanford University, IMD (Switzerland), INCAD (Costa Rica), Universidad Adolfo Ibañez (Chile), and Universidad de los Andes (Chile).

Fueling the Future Intrapreneurs

Fueling the Future Intrapreneurs:
Family Matters Forum

Rethinking Succession

Rethinking Succession

Sample Speaking Topics

Strategies for Long-term Family and Enterprise Success

Global Trends that Impact the Future of Family Enterprises

The Owners’ Mindset in the Age of Disruption

Developing an Innovation Culture in Your Family and Ownership Group

Ownership and Governance Strategies for the 21st Century

Talent Strategy for the Multigenerational Family Enterprise

Multigenerational Wealth Strategies

The High-Performing Family Office

Selling the Family Business: Preparing for a Sale and the Issues Facing Post-Liquidity Families

Succession Planning and Next Generation Development

Planning Your Life and Career

Unity, Alignment, and Conflict Management in the Family and Ownership Group

To invite Professor John Davis to teach or speak at an upcoming program, contact Dina Dvinov at [email protected], with as much advanced notice as possible.

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