MBA Faculty Spotlight - Professor Benjamin Laker

This series will shine a light on the faculty behind the Henley Executive MBA. The people teaching, leading and convening on each module bring experience not only from their academic experience and extensive research, but from real-world business too.

Professor Benjamin Laker is Director of Impact and Global Engagement and Professor of Leadership at Henley Business School. He also serves as Postgraduate Research Director for the department of Leadership, Organisations and Behaviour. He studies the impact of leadership on society, with a current focus on how leaders influence public health outcomes. In addition to publishing research in Harvard Business Review, Human Resource Management, the Journal of Consumer Research and MIT Sloan Management Review, he has written two books—Too Proud To Lead and Closing the Service Gap. Both of them received praise from the media.

Where did you study and work before coming to Henley?

I completed a PhD in Management and worked as an Associate Professor at the University of Kent before joining Henley in 2018 as a Professor of Leadership. Since then, I've become a Postgraduate Research Director and the Director of Impact and Global Engagement.

What areas of research do you focus on and why?

I study the impact of leadership on society: the way in which leaders shape the economic, social and political systems we live in. Currently, I'm working on a project examining how leaders influence public health outcomes. I hope my findings will help inform policymakers and other stakeholders, such as non-governmental organisations and healthcare providers.

What module do you teach and what do you hope the cohort take away from it?

I teach Leadership and Change. The module explores how leaders can drive change - either progressive or regressive - in different contexts. It seeks to equip students with the knowledge, skills and mindset required to become change-makers who can create positive outcomes for the people and organisations they work with. The aim is to equip them with the tools for leading sustainable change in whatever situation they find themselves. We also draw on the latest research to discuss ethical dilemmas and power dynamics that often arise in leadership scenarios. Ultimately, I hope students will gain an appreciation of the complexity of leadership and an understanding of the importance of a collective approach to creating change.

Why would you recommend doing an MBA at Henley?

The MBA offers a unique learning experience that combines academic excellence, professional development and personal growth. Programme faculty are knowledgeable and committed to the success of their students, while the vibrant student community provides a great platform to build connections and learn from each other. The modules are demanding, but you will be rewarded with valuable insights, new ideas and fresh perspectives. Above all, the Henley MBA provides a platform to take your career to the next level: equipping you with the knowledge and skills to excel in a competitive, ever-changing business world.

What do you think we should expect from the future of business and work?

The way in which work is conducted and business is managed is undergoing a rapid transformation. The Four-Day Week and Meeting-Free Days are just some of the initiatives that are being adopted to improve efficiency and productivity. This is interesting to me, and I believe that in the future, businesses will focus more on creating a flexible working environment where employees are motivated to unleash their creativity and innovation. Furthermore, I believe that data-driven decisions and artificial intelligence will be essential elements in the future of business. Finally, I expect to see a continued emphasis on sustainability and responsible leadership as organisations and leaders strive to positively impact society.

If you could have dinner with anyone, who would it be?

Cillian Murphy.

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