Posted: Feb 14th, 2014

By: Kirk Kardashian, Tuck School of Business Communications

This summer, Tuck will welcome its 40th class of senior executives to campus for the Tuck Executive Program (TEP). Founded in 1974, TEP has always aimed to provide the hallmarks of Tuck’s MBA program—a focus on general management, a personal scale, and access to leading faculty members—to executives ready to take their business and leadership skills to the next level. The results have been extraordinary.  Participants make strong connections with their peers during the program and return to their job with a new understanding of how to lead a business or a division. Many are quickly promoted to a very senior position or a job in the C-suite. “It’s a powerful experience,” says Sydney Finkelstein, the Steven Roth Professor of Management and faculty director of TEP.

Program Brochure Cover, 1974

Auspicious Beginnings

At its spring meeting in June of 1973, Tuck faculty voted to accept and support the report of the new Committee on Continuing Education recommending the launch of a “management development program…especially designed for high-potential middle management executives.” The rationale was “to broaden the executives’ understanding of their role as a manager, to improve analytical and decision-making skills and to increase the executives’ understanding of the unique function and responsibility of business in society.”

TEP was designed and directed by renowned Tuck marketing professor Kenneth Davis. In designing and filling the program, Davis relied heavily on generations of his former Tuck students who had risen to top marketing and general management positions in firms such as Citibank, Corning Glass Works, General Mills, General Motors, and IBM. There were 44 participants in the first program, which took place in the newly completed Murdough Center.  Participants came from 39 different corporations. All were from the United States, with the exception of one participant from Japan. Their average age was 40.

In his report to fellow faculty after the inaugural session, Davis said that “we have fulfilled our expectations in every respect. The program received an overwhelming endorsement from the participants, an exciting and stimulating group.” Davis affirmed that the first TEP class was “most enthusiastic” about Tuck’s unique learning environment. “Certainly the residential atmosphere and faculty/participant interaction is one of TEP’s distinctive characteristics,” he said.

Davis noted that he would like to see “greater representation from overseas and more female executives.” Fast forward to 2013, when 65 percent of the participants were from outside the USA and 26 percent of the participants were women.

Always Evolving

The core of the TEP experience is a curriculum that has constantly evolved to stay relevant to the dynamic business environment. In the mid-1970s, the four-week program was centered around the business policy teachings of famed management professor James Brian Quinn. Courses such as Planning and Control, Managerial Economics, Organizational Behavior, Marketing, and Finance branched out of Quinn’s class and provided a 360-degree view of cutting-edge management practices and tools.

Today, under the direction of Finkelstein, the best-selling author of Why Smart Executives Fail, the program is three weeks and is divided into three parts: management in action, managing change and growth, and leadership and personal change. The core curriculum, with its instruction in strategy, operations, marketing, finance, accounting, and communication, is designed to give participants the most current and crucial skills for success at the senior management level.  The second week focuses on innovation and leading the organizational quest for new business. During the third week, participants look inward at their own leadership style, learning how to influence without authority, work in teams, and build leaders from the ranks.

The current curriculum reflects the restless nature of business today. Name any sector of the economy—from television to taxis— and chances are it is being re-imagined by technology and globalization. “We live in a world of disruption and change, and there’s no industry and no job that’s safe,” Finkelstein says. “Leaders must be changing and adapting, and those are exactly the capabilities and mindsets that TEP brings to its participants.”

The unique TEP experience is made possible by the top-notch intellectual and physical resources of the Tuck School of Business, one of the highest ranked business schools in the world. TEP is taught by thought leaders who teach MBA courses at the core and elective levels. The faculty are scholar-teachers whose research is published in leading business and management journals, magazines, and books. And equally important, they are thought leaders in the field, engaging actively with global organizations through their private consulting work and through custom executive education engagements. The TEP program takes place at the Tuck campus, in picturesque Hanover, New Hampshire, which was recently ranked the third best MBA facility by the Economist.

Tuck’s administrators and faculty knew the school had something special to offer executives in 1974. TEP today is proof that some things don’t change.

Tuck Executive Program

Watch the video »

Sydney Finkelstein

View profile »


Tuck Executive Program Brochure


TEP is an elite three week program for senior managers. Learn more.

Download »