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About Laura Empson

About Laura

Academic | Speaker | Advisor

Laura has dedicated 30 years to researching professionals and the professions, funded through a series of prestigious government awards. Her research encompasses themes as diverse as:

  • leadership and governance;
  • organizational, cultural and identity change;
  • mergers and acquisitions;
  • professional careers and diversity;
  • partner evaluation and reward systems; and
  • future of professional work.

She is committed to translating her academic research for a practitioner audience, so alongside her directorship and professorship at Bayes Business School (formerly Cass) and Research Fellowships at Harvard Law School and Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, she advises many of the world’s leading professional organizations. She also acts as a non-executive director and governmental advisor.

Since 2007 Laura has been Professor in the Management of Professional Service Firms at Bayes Business School (formerly Cass), University of London, and Director of the Centre for Professional Service Firms.

She holds Research Fellowships at Harvard Law School’s Center on the Legal Profession, and the University of Cambridge's Judge Business School.

For ten years Laura was Associate Professor at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School and a Fellow of St Anne’s College, Oxford. Before becoming an academic, Laura worked as an investment banker and strategy consultant.

Laura has a PhD and MBA from London Business School and a BSc (Economics) from University College, London.

In 2020 Laura was invited to become a founding member of the Strategic Advisory Board of the Journal of Management Studies. From 2013 to 2016 she was an Independent Non-Executive of KPMG LLP (becoming INE Chair in 2015). She is a long standing member of the Editorial Boards of Organization Studies and the Journal of Professions and Organizations.

Laura’s research has been funded through a series of prestigious awards from the Economic and Social Research Council, the EU, and the Society for the Advancement of Management Studies. In 2019 she was nominated for the Thinker’s 50 Leadership Award.

Laura Empson Personal Motivations

Personal motivations

My initial move into academia was inspired by my work as an investment banker and a strategy consultant, and my frustration with the poor leadership I experienced in these sectors. I wanted to make sense of my own experiences and to understand better why smart people do ‘stupid’ things.

After more than 30 years of research, I remain fascinated by studying professional organizations because they flout many conventional rules of management and leadership, thriving on complexity, ambiguity, and paradox. I have maintained my commitment to using insights from my academic research to help professional organizations, and the people who work within them, address some of their most challenging problems.


Synchronizing research and practice

Laura applies intellectual rigor to make objective recommendations based on rich evidence and insight from her research.

Grounded in the real world

Laura’s thinking is grounded in in-depth insight into organisational reality. She gets beneath the skin of her clients’ organizations to dissect and analyse their most complex organisational issues.

Integrated thinking

Laura brings an unusual ability to combine in-depth insights and lateral thinking with intuitive understanding.

Pushing boundaries of knowledge

Laura continuously develops and challenges her own thinking to develop original and practical insights for her clients. 

Some clients I’ve worked with


Laura has published numerous articles in leading international academic journals (see here)
and edited and authored three highly influential books (see here).


Laura is a regular media contributor, writing articles, as well as providing expert commentary and background briefings to journalists, on subjects including professional service firms, leadership, and governance.

Latest thinking

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