Jim Sharpe is a Visiting Executive at the Harvard Business School. Jim has been with Harvard Business School since 2009 as a Senior Lecturer in the MBA and Executive Education programs, an Entrepreneur in Residence, and now as a Visiting Executive. He has taught the first-year course on entrepreneurship (TEM), a second-year elective on turnarounds (EMTE), and launched an elective course on running small enterprises (RSME).
His interests are in the areas of search acquisitions, manufacturing, operations, B2B niche marketing, pricing, leadership, family balance, dual-career couples, large/small company differences, ethics, exit strategies, and employee empowerment. As an investor, he has ownership positions in more than 50 entrepreneurial companies.
Extrusion Technology, an aluminum extrusion fabricator owned by Jim, was sold to a private equity firm in December 2008. The company was purchased in 1987 after an 11-month self-funded search. Taking on substantial debt and securing 100% of the equity, Jim transformed the second-generation, family-owned business by growing it from $4MM to $32MM. He developed value-added products in the Datacomm/Telecom electronics market and established a second factory in Xiamen, China. A focus on quality led to qualification for ISO-9000 in 1992, and emphasis on lead time reduction resulted in a Bronze Shingo award in 2008.
The family focus has been a high priority for Jim, who hired his wife, Debby Stein Sharpe, HBS'81 and MIT'76, as CFO in 1988, contrary to advise from his Advisory Board. Debby and Jim adopted their daughter at age 5 while their two boys were in elementary school.
After graduating from Harvard Business School in 1976, he joined GE, where he occupied a series of Product General Manager positions. After 5 years, he left to run 3 turnaround situations, which prepared him to strike off on his own in 1987.