Oxford Leading Professional Service Firms Programme

Redefine your contribution to competitive advantage

Start date:


  • 6 weeks

Time commitment:

  • Short programme


  • Online


  • £2,495

About the programme

Within the realm of professional service firms (PSFs), a competitive advantage has traditionally been achieved through technical knowledge and excellence.

However, as clients’ demands have risen, technology has become increasingly powerful, and firms more diverse, technical expertise is no longer a unique business quality – it’s now a prerequisite. Partners of PSFs need a new set of competencies to drive business development and set themselves and their firms apart.

The Oxford Leading Professional Service Firms Programme is designed to provide a crucial market edge to the senior leaders and partners responsible for managing PSFs. Senior managers and partners working within consulting and professional services, and professionals from industries such as finance, law, and IT, will have the opportunity to optimise their skills by focusing on leadership, strategic planning, and innovation. Gain the skills to create a strategy for innovation and growth, and secure a competitive advantage for you and your firm.

Delivered in collaboration with digital education provider GetSmarter, a 2U, Inc. brand, you will be part of a community learning together through a dedicated Online Campus.

An introduction to the programme


  • The skills to create a competitive edge for your business, as well as yourself, guided by exclusive Oxford research that focuses on leadership development
  • Leadership and strategic planning skills that enable you to respond to and manage unique PSF challenges, and help you remain relevant as you progress in your career
  • A strategy for transformation and innovation, with insight into the roles that technology, diversity, and paradoxes play in PSFs
  • Insights from leading business practitioners, field experts, and academics, as well as a global network of fellow PSF leaders
  • Membership of the official Oxford Saïd elumni community
  • Access to the official Oxford Executive Education Elumni group on LinkedIn

Programme outline

Orientation module

Welcome to your online campus.

Applications to join the programme will be accepted until the end of the orientation module.

Module 1

From expert to orchestrator: Redefine your contribution to competitive advantage.

Explore what makes your firm stand out and realise the foundations of your leadership.

Module 2

Excellence with relevance: Deliver client-centric services through bundling.

Explore strategies for delivering an outstanding client service experience.

Module 3

Becoming known: Grow your reputation through compelling communication.

Discover techniques to enhance your visibility and broaden your reputational footprint.

Module 4

Beyond the trusted partner: Grow strategic relationships through partnering.

Explore strategies to maintain a broad network of relationships and grow your influence.

Module 5

Ahead of the curve: Future proof your capabilities through collaborative learning.


Module 6

The big win: Leading transformational innovation in your firm.

Explore how to build momentum for transformational innovation and growth.

Meet the faculty

The programme is led by Professor Michael Smets, who is recognised globally for his pioneering research on leadership and the art of managing the professional services firm. He has worked with leading consulting and professional services firms such as Freshfields, EY, Arcadis, BearingPoint, and Lloyd’s of London, as well as industry bodies such as the Financial Conduct Authority and the International Bar Association.

Michael is joined by key faculty, subject-matter experts, and practitioners at the forefront of the PSF industry, who will share their extensive knowledge to support your learning and development.



Industry expert contributors

The thinking behind the programme

The School is a centre for expertise on business strategy and organisational effectiveness, and the dedicated Professional Service Firms Group includes some of the world’s foremost thinkers in the field. Research and insights from the group form a foundation for the programme, and you will access this thought leadership throughout the modules. 

Oxford’s own framework, the ‘Swirl’ Model, created from research undertaken by Michael Smets and Tim Morris, outlines the factors that drive continuous self-development and the components of a winning performance. By using this model within your own business context, you’ll be empowered to deliver excellent client-centric services, broaden your reputational footprint, build your partner relationships, and enhance your expertise through learning.


The CPD Certification Service

This programme is certified by The CPD Certification Service. It may be applicable to individuals who are members of, or are associated with, UK-based professional bodies.

Options for organisations

If you are looking to integrate Oxford online programmes with your organisation’s learning and development strategy, we have tailored solutions to help deliver an innovative learning experience across teams.