Professor William Pietersen was raised in South Africa, and received a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University. After practicing law, he embarked on an international business career. Over a period of 20 years he served as the CEO of multibillion-dollar businesses such as Lever Foods, Seagram USA, Tropicana, and Sterling Winthrop’s Consumer Health Group. In 1998, Pietersen was named Professor of the Practice of Management at the Columbia University Graduate School of Business.

He specializes in strategy and the leadership of change, and his methods and ideas, especially Strategic Learning, are widely applied within Columbia’s executive education programs, and in numerous corporations. He has served as a teacher and advisor to many global companies, including Aviva, Bausch & Lomb, Boeing, Chubb Corp., Deloitte, DePuy, Ericsson, ExxonMobil, Henry Schein, Inc., Novartis, SAP, and the Girl Scouts of the USA.

    Certificate Programs

  • Oct 26 - Nov 15
    Implementing Winning Strategies
    Join Professor Willie Pietersen for a 3-week program focused on strategy concepts that help develop and deliver winning strategies.

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  • Oct 26 - Dec 6
    Leading Strategic Growth
    Join Columbia’s renowned faculty for a 6-week program on developing a strategic organization that can better identify challenges and focus efforts.

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Books & Publications

  • Strategic Learning

    How to Be Smarter Than Your Competition and Turn Key Insights into Competitive Advantage

    March 2010

  • The Workbook

    A toolkit for applying the Strategic Learning method.

  • Strategy as Learning

    European Business Review

    July-August 2010

  • Strategy in Search of a Method

    Columbia Insights for Executives

    March 2005

  • Strategic Learning:

    A Leadership Process for Creating and Implementing Breakthrough Strategies


  • Reinventing Strategy

    Using Strategic Learning to Create and Sustain Breakthrough Performance


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