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Nancy F. Koehn

  • James E. Robison Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School
  • Member, Rework America

Nancy F. Koehn is a historian at the Harvard Business School where she holds the James E. Robison chair of Business Administration. Koehn's research focuses on crisis leadership and how leaders, past and present, craft lives of purpose, worth, and impact. 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.

Koehn is also the author of Ernest Shackleton: Exploring Leadership; The Story of American Business; and Brand New: How Entrepreneurs Earned Consumers' Trust from Wedgwood to Dell, among other books and articles. She has written Harvard Business School cases on Starbucks Coffee Company, Bono and U2, Oprah Winfrey, Whole Foods, and many other leaders and organizations.

Koehn works with executives from a range of companies and speaks frequently about effective leadership in venues such as Davos and the Aspen Institute Ideas Festival. She has appeared on “American Experience,” Bloomberg Television, "Good Morning America," “The NewsHour," and many other television programs. She writes regularly for the New York Times, the Washington Post and Harvard Business Review Online, and is a frequent commentator on National Public Radio and the BBC. In 2012, Poets and Quants ranked Koehn as one of the World’s 50 Best Business School Professors.

She serves as a director for Tempur-Pedic and the New York-based retailer Fashion to Figure.

Koehn holds a MA and PhD in History from Harvard. She also earned a Master of Public Policy from Harvard's Kennedy School and an A.B. from Stanford University.

Koehn lives outside Boston and is an avid equestrian.