Frances Frei is Senior Associate Dean, Director of Faculty Planning and Recruiting and UPS Foundation Professor of Service Management at Harvard Business School (HBS). Professor Frei focuses her research and teaching on helping leaders to compete on excellence by designing, managing and scaling exceptional service firms. Her ideas have influenced leaders on the frontlines of building the global economy and shaped strategies of the world’s most competitive companies. She is the co-author of the best-selling book, “Uncommon Service: How to Win by Putting Customers at the Core of Your Business” (Harvard Business Review Press, 2011).
A legend in MBA and Executive Education classrooms, Professor Frei is widely recognized for her dynamic teaching style. She designed and led the required FIELD course at HBS, an experiential learning model that transformed the student experience at Harvard, and her course on service management is among the most popular offerings in the school’s recent history. In her role as Senior Associated Dean, Director of Faculty Planning and Recruiting, she is now working to unleash a new generation of global thought leaders.
Professor Frei has received the Excellence in Teaching and 1984 Awards from the Wharton School of Business and has been honored with the prestigious HBS Student Association Faculty Award for teaching excellence several times. She serves on the board of directors of Advance Auto Parts and on the boards of advisors of several private companies. She describes her deepest calling as helping leaders to remove the “pebbles” that can grow into obstacles to performance.
She has published countless articles on leadership, strategy and service design in Harvard Business Review (HBR), Management Science and other top-tier business journals, including the classic article, “The Four Things a Service Business Must Get Right” (HBR, 2008) and the groundbreaking article, “Stop Holding Yourself Back” (HBR, 2011). In addition, she has published dozens of case studies across a variety of industries, including financial services, government, retail, software, telecommunications, and travel & leisure.
A highly sought-after speaker and advisor, Professor Frei brings a level of wisdom and authenticity to conversation that compels audiences to action. Her core beliefs – including the idea that organizations must dare to be deliberately bad in strategic areas in order to thrive in others – permanently change the way business leaders think about competition and the company/customer relationship. She is celebrated for her ability to engage audiences and give organizations the insight and tools to dramatically improve performance.
Professor Frei’s passion for transforming organizations comes from more than 20 years studying, teaching and helping leaders to build outstanding service firms. She received her Ph.D. in Operations and Information Management from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. She holds a master's in industrial engineering from Pennsylvania State University and a bachelor's degree in mathematics from the University of Pennsylvania.