Herminia Ibarra black and white headshot

Herminia Ibarra

Professor of Organisational Behaviour at London Business School & Author of Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader

why book herminia?

  • One of Apolitica’s 100 most influential people in gender policy, and the 2018 recipient of the Academy of Management’s Scholar-Practitioner Award for her research’s contribution to management practice
  • Author of best-selling books Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader and Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career
  • An authority on leadership and career development, Thinkers 50 ranks Ibarra among the top management thinkers in the world
Herminia Ibarra black and white headshot


Herminia Ibarra is the Charles Handy Professor of Organisational Behaviour at London Business School. Prior to joining LBS, she served on the INSEAD and Harvard Business School faculties.

An authority on leadership and career development, Thinkers 50 ranks Herminia among the top management thinkers in the world. She is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Expert Network, a judge for the Financial Times Business Book of the Year Award, a Fellow of the British Academy, and the 2018 recipient of the Academy of Management’s Scholar-Practitioner Award for her research’s contribution to management practice.

Herminia is a member of the London Business School governing body. She chaired the Harvard Business School Visiting Committee, which reports to the university’s board of overseers, from 2012 to 2016, having been a member since 2009, and served on the INSEAD board of directors.

A native of Cuba, Herminia received her MA and PhD from Yale University, where she was a National Science Fellow.

Herminia Ibarra black and white headshot

Herminia is the author of two bestselling books, Act Like a LeaderThink Like a Leader and Working Identity. She writes regularly in leading academic journals and business publications such as the Harvard Business ReviewFinancial TimesWall Street Journal, and The New York Times. Her article, The Leader as Coach, won the 2019 Warren Bennis Prize for the best leadership article in the Harvard Business Review.

Herminia speaks internationally on how to step up to bigger leadership roles, leadership skills for organisational transformation, how to get a more diverse pool of talent to the top, and developing authentic sponsorship relationships.


How to Get a More Diverse Pool of Talent into Senior Leadership

Career success is a tripod built on three legs: key experiences that help people learn critical business, functional and organisational skills; a network of helping relationships that provide information, advice and support; and growing in confidence, credibility and reputation.

These are precisely the same three arenas in which gender and racial bias play out in organisations: access to mission-critical roles, access to a network of senior gatekeepers and biased perceptions about the capacity and potential of people who are underrepresented at senior levels. In this session, Herminia explains how the three legs of the tripod work together to create virtuous or vicious career cycles, and how organisations can improve progression rates by tackling all three in unison.

Developing Authentic Sponsorship Relationships

Getting the mission-critical roles and stepping stone assignments that pave the way to a successful career requires more than skills and drive. It requires a special kind of relationship — called ‘sponsorship’ — in which mentors goes beyond giving feedback and advice to use their influence with other senior executives to advocate for proteges and ensure that they have exposure and visibility with other top decision makers.

In this session, you will learn what sponsorship is, why it matters, and most importantly, how to cultivate mutually beneficial relationships such that, over time, your relationships are more likely to blossom into true sponsorship. Herminia and the participants will discuss the spectrum of helping relationships, ingredients of effective career conversations, how to manage universal ‘like me’ biases and how to overcome common challenges in sponsoring relationships across differences.

Making Successful Career Transitions

Today, people at all stages of their careers are asking themselves profound questions about the kind of work they do, how much of it they want to do, and the place it occupies in their lives. In part, we’re asking ourselves these questions because fewer and fewer of us conceive of life as having the three ‘traditional’ stages: a short early stage devoted to learning, a long middle stage devoted to work, and a final retirement stage.

Instead, with growing frequency, we’re alternating between changing jobs and careers, pursuing opportunities for education, and making time for periods of rest and restoration. There’s a lot that’s beneficial and necessary about this shift, but no matter how often you change careers, you’re likely to experience the transition as an emotionally fraught process — one that involves loss, insecurity, and struggle.

In this session, I explain what makes career change hard, outline a three-part process of exploring a diversity of ‘possible selves’ and describe the three levers for change that we all have at our disposal: experimenting with new professional activities, connecting to new networks and working and re-working the story of who we are.

How to Step up to Bigger Leadership Roles

Today’s breakneck pace of technological change has an immense impact on leaders, and as a result, on their organisations’ capacity to transform. All too often, executives remain stuck in outdated mindsets and modes of operating, even when they recognise the need to reinvent themselves in order to step up in their careers. This interactive session upends traditional, introspective advice and says act first — in order to change your way of thinking. Whether you are moving into a new role or stepping up in your current post, in this session you will learn to change through action, not reflection, and to apply a growth mindset to our own leadership capacities.

Learning objectives:

  • Identify how to redefine your job so that your contributions are more strategic and client-centred.
  • Learn how to expand your network so that you connect to and learn from a bigger range of stakeholders inside and outside your firm.
  • Understand different ways of defining authenticity in order to give yourself permission to stretch beyond your ‘natural’ leadership styles and habitual ways of contributing.

Leadership Skills for Organisational Transformation

Today more than ever we need leaders who can help transform our firms — so they become more agile, more innovative, more digitally savvy, more customer-centric, more inclusive and/or more human. Herminia has found that five leadership skills are vital for moving our organizations in this desired direction, increasing their people’s capacity to deal with today’s adaptive challenges: situations in which problems are complex, there isn’t an obvious answer, and, the brainpower and enthusiasm of many, not just the top leaders, is needed to solve them.

The Five Skills:

  • Cross-cutting: developing networks of relationships that extend and connect to a diversity of people and groups.
  • Collaborating: fostering candor and psychological safety to increase team performance.
  • Coaching: asking questions to develop others’ potential.
  • Culture-shaping: proactively shaping organizational culture and mindsets, including recognizing and modifying practices that are no longer fit for purpose.
  • Connecting: growing in empathy and authentic leadership.

Herminia Ibarra