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Business Perspectives for Creative Leaders

In 2008, Yale School of Management launched a program built for creative professionals, empowering them as leaders and educating them in business. Through a partnership with AIGA Business Perspective for Creative Leaders (BPCL) was formed. Acting as the perfect blend of business and design, BPCL has since expanded to include a wide, rich network of architects, graphic designers, industrial designers, developers, and other creative professionals, all pushing the boundaries of their leadership potential in order to move themselves and their respective organizations forward.

The Business Perspectives for Creative Leaders curriculum is designed to accomplish two goals: first, to equip creative leaders to meet the challenges of management; and second, to give participants the skills and perspectives they need to reach the next levels in their careers. Instead of teaching management topics in separate, single-subject courses, Yale’s experienced faculty teach an integrated curriculum providing business frameworks and concepts in a rich, relevant context.

In this program, design-industry professionals broaden their management skills to complement their deep creative abilities and become well-rounded senior leaders. They strengthen strategic thinking to better tackle high-impact opportunities and drive innovation for growth. They develop soft skills to better influence, persuade, and negotiate with colleagues and clients. In addition, they learn how to lead change and learn the basics of accounting and finance to communicate better with their financial team.

Participants have come from some of the most highly regarded firms in the industry, such as Google, Adobe, Microsoft, Nickelodeon, and MTV. Learners leave connected to a creative network of professionals who share a passion for leadership and innovation.

In winter 2021, this program will be offered in a live online format which creates a highly engaging environment where participants are an active part of the program. Participant profile galleries within our learning platform enable learners to discover what they have in common with others. Break out activities bring small, varied groups of people together in meaningful ways. Unique networking activities drive social connection with other passionate professionals to deepen learning and many of these budding connections bloom into what become lasting relationships. Participants often take advantage of the tools we provide to meet up with one another and continue growing together long after the program’s end. Come immerse yourself in both content and networking with our live online delivery.

If you’re a designer who wants to understand how business works—for both you and your clients—this one week will change your life.

Michael Bierut, Pentagram Design

About the Program

What to Expect

  • Develop personal career aspirations with practical insights and inspiring perspectives.
  • Think strategically to meet the challenges of management, take advantage of business opportunities, and drive innovation for growth.
  • Develop soft skills to better influence, persuade, and negotiate with colleagues and clients.
  • Connect to a powerful network of creative professionals who share a passion for leadership and innovation

Who Should Attend

Designed for mid-career or senior professionals, this program is ideal for designers and other creatives looking to become better leaders, drive innovation, navigate change, expand their network, or optimize their teams to drive growth. Averaging between 20 - 40 attendees a year, this experience is consistently ranked one of the most valuable experiences of participants’ careers.

Faculty & Practitioners

Faculty and lecturers are subject to change.

James Baron
James Baron

William S. Beinecke Professor of Management

Areas of Expertise: Careers, Entrepreneurship, Human Resources, Labor Issues, Leadership, Nonprofit Management, Organizational Behavior, Organizational Design, Social Enterprise, Social Networks, Startups, Strategy, Women in Leadership, Workplace Issues

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Professor Baron’s research interests include human resources; organizational design and behavior; social stratification and inequality; work, labor markets, and careers; economic sociology; and entrepreneurial companies. Before coming to SOM in 2006, he taught at Stanford's Graduate School of Business from 1982-2006. At Stanford, he taught the MBA core course, Human Resource Management. He was co-director of the Stanford Project on Emerging Companies (SPEC), a large-scale longitudinal study of the organizational design, human resource management practices, and financial and non-financial performance measures of entrepreneurial firms in Silicon Valley. Papers based on the project appeared in leading disciplinary journals, and an overview of the project in California Management Review won the 2003 Accenture Award for making “the most important contribution to improving the practice of management.”

He is the author, with Stanford economist David M. Kreps, of a textbook, Strategic Human Resources: Frameworks for General Managers (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.). Baron is also a regular contributor to leading sociology and organization journals, such as the American Sociological Review and Administrative Science Quarterly. His research has also been published in influential journals in economics and social psychology.

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Norman Bartczak
Norman Bartczak

Lecturer in the Discipline of International and Public Affairs, Columbia School of Public and International Affairs

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Norman Bartczak is a Lecturer in Discipline at Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs (2011–present) and an Adjunct Professor of Law at Columbia University Law School (2000–present). He is a Visiting Professor at the University of Navarra School of Law in Pamplona, Spain (2008–Present) and a Lecturer in the Executive Education Programs at the Yale School of Management (2007–Present). He has taught and published in the areas of accounting and financial reporting, both domestic and international, financial statement analysis, corporate finance, security analysis, and the management of financial institutions. He was an Adjunct Professor of Business Administration at Columbia University's Graduate School of Business Administration (1993–2014) and a faculty member of the Harvard Business School (1976–1985).

He is the co-founder and senior partner of West End Resources LLC (1999–present) and the founder and owner of Financial Statement Investigation, Inc. (1989–present).

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Daylian Cain
Daylian Cain

Senior Lecturer in Negotiations & Leadership

Areas of Expertise: Behavioral Economics, Conflicts of Interest, Corporate Governance, Ethics, Leadership, Negotiations, Organizational Behavior, Social Enterprise

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Daylian M. Cain, Ph.D., is a Senior Lecturer of Negotiations & Leadership at the Yale School of Management. Prior to joining Yale in 2007, Cain was the Russell Sage Fellow of Behavioral Economics at Harvard. Originally hailing from Nova Scotia, Cain is a former Canada science scholar. He has three master’s degrees and —from Carnegie Mellon— a Ph.D. in Business. He likes to say that he focuses on “why smart people do dumb things.”

Fun Facts: Cain has appeared as a special guest on National Geographic’s TV show Brain Games, and his poker avatar (“Raising Cain”) is one of the opponents you may face at

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Rodrigo Canales
Rodrigo Canales

Lecturer in Organizational Behavior

Areas of Expertise: Economic Development, Emerging Markets, Entrepreneurship, Globalization, Organizational Behavior, Social Enterprise

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Rodrigo Canales does research at the intersection of organizational theory and institutional theory, with a special interest in the role of institutions for economic development. Specifically, Rodrigo studies how individuals are affected by and in turn purposefully change complex organizations or systems. Rodrigo's work explores how individuals’ backgrounds, professional identities, and organizational positions affect how they relate to existing structures and the strategies they pursue to change them. His work contributes to a deeper understanding of the mechanisms that allow institutions to operate and change. Rodrigo has done work in entrepreneurial finance and microfinance, as well as in the institutional implications of the Mexican war on drugs. His current research is divided into three streams. The first focuses on the structural determinants of the quality of startup employment. The second, in partnership with the Hewlett Foundation, explores the conditions under which development policies and practices are built upon and incorporate existing, rigorous evidence. The third, with generous support from the Merida Initiative, explores how to build effective, resilient, and trusted police organizations in Mexico.

Rodrigo teaches the Innovator Perspective at the Yale School of Management; he sits on the advisory board of the Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values at MIT; he spent the 2014-2015 academic year advising the Mexican government on the US-Mexico bilateral relationship; and sits in the Board of Trustees of the Nature Conservancy.

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Zoe Chance
Zoë Chance

Senior Lecturer in Marketing

Areas of Expertise: Influence and Persuasion, Decision-Making, Behavior Change

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Zoë Chance helps smart people become more influential. At the Yale School of Management, she teaches a popular elective called Mastering Influence and Persuasion, aka "Doing Uncomfortable Things That Make You a Better Person." Her research has been published in top academic journals like Proceedings of the National Academy of Science and Psychological Science, and covered in media outlets like the New York Times and the BBC. She has appeared on CNN and written for Harvard Business Review. Google uses her behavioral economics framework as the basis for their global food policy. Zoë speaks internationally for Fortune 500 firms and leading NGOs, and her TEDx talk, "How to Make a Behavior Addictive," has over half a million views. Prior to Yale, Zoë managed a $200 million segment of the Barbie brand at Mattel, acted on stage and film, and earned her bachelor's from Haverford College, MBA from USC, and doctorate from Harvard Business School. Her first book was published by Random House on February 1, 2022. It's called Influence Is Your Superpower: The Science of Winning Hearts, Sparking Change, and Making Good Things Happen.

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Emma Seppala
Emma Seppälä

Lecturer, Yale School of Management

Areas of Expertise: Positive Leadership, Emotional Intelligence, Well-being, Social Connection

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Emma Seppälä, Ph.D., is a best-selling author, Yale lecturer, and international keynote speaker. She teaches executives at the Yale School of Management and is faculty director of the Yale School of Management’s Women’s Leadership Program. A psychologist and research scientist by training, her expertise is the science of happiness, emotional intelligence, and social connection. Her best-selling book The Happiness Track (HarperOne, 2016) has been translated into dozens of languages. Seppälä is also the Science Director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education.

Seppälä’s research has been published in top academic journals and featured in major news outlets like the New York Times, the Washington Post, NPR, and CBSNews. She speaks and consults internationally for Fortune 500 companies like Google and Facebook and contributes to Harvard Business Review, the Washington Post, Psychology Today, and TIME, among others.

A repeat guest on Good Morning America, she also spoke at TedX Sacramento and TEDx Hayward. Her research on breathing for military veterans with trauma was highlighted in the documentary Free the Mind. She is also featured in documentaries like The Altruism Revolution, What You Do Matters, and Bullied.

Seppälä is the recipient of a number of research grants and service awards including the James W. Lyons Award from Stanford University for founding Stanford’s first academic class on the psychology of happiness and initiating other well-being programs for Stanford students.

She graduated from Yale (BA), Columbia (MA), and Stanford (PhD). Originally from Paris, France, she is a native speaker of French, English, and German and conversant in Spanish and Mandarin Chinese.

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Application Information

How to Apply

Interested applicants will need to submit:

  • A current résumé
  • A statement of intent explaining why you are applying to this program, how your experience has prepared you to enter this program, and how it will benefit you professionally.

Both documents can be uploaded as either a PDF or word document to the application form. Professional achievement and organizational responsibility are the main criteria for admission. There are no previous formal education requirements for admission. Acceptance is subject to the approval of the Yale School of Management Executive Education program committee. Applications are reviewed in the order they are received, and you can expect to be notified within 1-2 weeks from submitting a completed application.

If you have any questions about applying, please contact Lisa Kammert.


Upon acceptance, a prompt for payment information will be sent. You must select invoice or credit card. If you select “invoice”, you will still have the option to pay by credit card later. Course materials are distributed once payment is received in full, and we recommend completing some pre-work before attending to get the most benefit from the experience.

Program Fee Assistance

Program fee benefits are available for Yale or Yale SOM graduates, those from nonprofits, or veterans. For more information about veteran financial aid options and eligibility please visit the Executive Education Veteran Benefits page. There are no scholarship opportunities for this program. Special rates cannot be combined.

  • 15% reduction in program fee for groups of 3+
  • 15% reduction in program fee if you have previously participated in a Yale Executive Education Program with Yale SOM, ExecOnline, or 2U/GetSmarter 

Apply code at time of registration

  • NONPROFIT – 15% reduction in program fee for those who work at a nonprofit
  • YALEGRAD – 15% reduction in program fee for Yale University or Yale School of Management graduates

Refund, Cancelation, & Deferment

Refunds are allowed for live online and in-person programs if requested in writing to the Executive Education Registrar ( 45 days prior to the course start date.  All cancellation requests 44 days or less will be granted a one-time deferment to a future program to be used within one (1) calendar year.    

Deferments are subject to approval to ensure that participants and programs are suitable.  If a new course is selected, additional fees may incur. 

Yale reserves the right to cancel or reschedule programs if enrollment is deemed insufficient or health and safety would otherwise be jeopardized.  Yale School of Management is not responsible for any travel or incidental costs incurred by a registrant if a program becomes canceled. If a program is canceled by Yale, a full refund of fees paid will be processed within 30 days.

While it is our goal to deliver our programs as scheduled, we may postpone programs, deliver them online, or cancel them. If one of our programs has a scheduling change, we will notify those affected as soon as possible.  

Program Collaborator

AIGA logo

Business Perspectives for Creative Leaders began in 2008 through a partnership between Yale Executive Education and AIGA, the professional association for design. As the profession’s oldest and largest professional membership organization for design—with more than 70 chapters and more than 15,000 members—AIGA advances design as a professional craft, strategic advantage, and vital cultural force.


The Business Perspectives for Creative Leaders course with AIGA has consistently been a life-changing experience for design professionals. Hear what some of our graduates had to say:

“I found this program to be one of the most fulfilling and meaningful experiences of my professional and academic career.” —Debbie Millman, Sterling Brands

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“This program was just perfect. I’ve made connections that will last a lifetime and useful skills I’ve already applied to my day-to-day professional life.” —John Militello, Google

“This is by far the most relevant and useful continuing education program I’ve ever taken. The professors were hand selected and their material was tailored specifically for our class.” —Jill Spaeth, Citizen Creative

“This was truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn from and be surrounded by some of the most brilliant, interesting and entertaining minds around. Thank you for a phenomenal experience.” —Tammy Taylor, Wells Fargo

“Go! It’s five intense days that’ll improve the way you think and work for the rest of your career; you’ll feel smarter but leave wanting more. It’s mind-opening concepts and everyday applications—plus great people to learn with and from. And it’s essential information that you didn’t know you needed—and now can’t do without.” —Laurie Churchman, University of Pennsylvania

“Attending the program literally changed my view of the relationship of design and business. It was one of the best investments I have made in my career and the new friendships are beyond measure.” —Ann Willoughby, Willoughby Design Group

“It's a career changer. I came away with so much that will influence my thinking from here on out.” —Jason Ackley, Director, Design, Marketing Services, Morningstar Inc.

“The program provided me with business-centric points of view and tools to help me think about design’s relationship to other disciplines.” —Randy J. Hunt, Creative Director, Etsy, Inc.

“The ROI for this program will benefit our firm and clients for years to come. Learning how to understand fundamentals of accounting, negotiations, operations, and compliance may not sound creative—but through the lens of design the possibilities are exponential.” —Zack Shubkagel, Willoughby Design Group

“I came away with a much deeper understanding of business concepts, strategic planning, competitive strategy, and finance. It’s hard to know what the best part was—the faculty, the fascinating exchange of ideas, the other attendees, the staff—the whole experience was tremendously rewarding. I’d go every year if I could.” —Janet DeDonato, Methodologie

"Creative leaders will walk away inspired and highly educated on significant business tools and principles. The lectures blended hands-on activities, lively class participation, and practical case studies.” —Stephen Gay, Innovation Catalyst, Design Manager & Strategist, Intuit

“This week was more than worth the time and money. I came back energized, with new ideas about how to think about our business and our clients’ businesses. Bring an open mind and don’t worry if you feel like you don’t know what to expect.” —James Bradley, Chase Design Group

“This experience opened my eyes to untapped opportunities and solid ‘design thinking’ solutions to the challenges of bringing citizen-centered design into a large government bureaucracy-the IRS.” —John Jacobin, Internal Revenue Service

“Terrific. The instruction was top-notch. The topics were on target and directly applicable to our roles in the design world. And best of all my colleagues in the program were a phenomenal group of people.” —Julie Baher, Citrix Systems

“It was so closely tailored to the challenges and opportunities of creative professionals, the professors were outstanding and engaging, and the classmates were an incredible bunch of talented, passionate people.”—Emily Iles, Design Director, Pelopidas LLC

From Application to Graduation: The Business Perspectives Experience from Alumni

From left: Alia Hassan of Blue State Digital, 2014 graduate; Randy J. Hunt of Artsy, 2014 graduate; Stacey Fatica of Arcadia Power, 2015 graduate
From left: Alia Hassan of Blue State Digital, 2014 graduate; Randy J. Hunt of Artsy, 2014 graduate; Stacey Fatica of Arcadia Power, 2015 graduate

There's a lot of thinking that goes into the decision to attend our Yale business certification. That's why we sat down with three alumni to ask them about why they applied, their program experience, and advice for future attendees.

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What inspired you to consider the Yale business certification program?

Alia Hassan: I've been interested in the intersection of creativity and business for quite some time. In fact, it's why I ended up pursuing an interdisciplinary undergraduate degree—Bachelor of Humanities and Arts from Carnegie Mellon University, and I studied communication design at the School of Design and policy and management at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. I began my career as a designer and became the global director of design at Blue State Digital. As such, my responsibilities at work were becoming increasingly managerial and business-oriented, which I enjoyed and wanted to lean into.

Randy J. Hunt: I was looking to connect with other design leaders, to learn about their challenges and how they've addressed them. I figured an academic environment would be a place to find like-minded people looking to share and learn. Turns out, that was true. And learning together is a great way to bond.

Stacey Fatica: I found myself being involved in more and more executive-level meetings, and I needed to make the case for how design was relevant to long-term businesses goals. Yale enabled me to build that case and present it to key stakeholders.

Did you have any fears before registering?

Randy: Can I get the pre-work done? That was really the biggest concern in advance. Turned out it was really fun, though time-consuming. The pre-work was critical. If I hadn't done it, I would have been lacking context for several of the classes. They built on the pre-work and referred to the material in the case study readings.

Was anything challenging about the program?

Alia: Balancing thorough preparation for each session in order to get the most out of them with taking time to get to know my colleagues on a personal and professional level.

Did anything surprise you?

Stacey: I walked away from Yale with multiple resources—but the most important was a strong network of passionate design professionals that understands the value of design, an integral part of business.

Can you remember a favorite learning moment?

Alia: Going back to my interest in the intersection of creativity and business, I had always envisioned myself studying design during college, working in the field of design, and eventually expanding my toolkit by getting an M.B.A. Interests and plans change over time, but the program at Yale confirmed that that's actually still something I wanted to pursue. So I did! I graduated with an M.B.A. from Columbia Business School a couple of years after the program at Yale.

Randy: The operations workshop made me rethink how to approach processes and systems.

Stacey: Bruce Tulgan's class on managing people from different generations was one of my favorite lectures at Yale. I was able to quickly take away frameworks for engaging, developing, and retaining my younger employees. His books “Not Everyone Gets A Trophy” and “The 27 Challenges Managers Face” have been a go-to resource ever since.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about attending this program?

Alia: The program is a big time, energy, and financial commitment. Be clear on what you're trying to get out of the program. Do you want to learn more about a specific topic? Form new connections with people in areas of specialization that differ from yours? Get a sense of whether you're actually interested in the business side of design in order to influence where you focus your energy back at work? Then sketch out a rough plan of how you might set yourself up to succeed in pursuing that goal at Yale. The program goes by really quickly, so this is one way to help make the most of it!

Randy: Do the pre-work. It was really fun and enjoyable to engage with, and that allowed me to fully participate in the class discussions.

Stacey: The Yale BPCL program is a bit pricey but 100 percent worth the investment in my career.