Relatively Speaking: A New Forum for Family Businesses
Every business organization is faced with a range of operational and management issues at one time or another, but what if the decision-making tactics you learned in business school take a back seat to decisions based on family dynamics and “family logic”?
To help shed some light on these unique issues, the Columbia Entrepreneurship Program, in partnership with the Columbia Entrepreneurs Organization (CEO), has established a family business forum that kicked off with its first event, Family Business Night at CBS, on the evening of Monday, March 19th. Over 65 current students and alumni that are part of a family business, or are interested in the topic, participated in the panel discussion on succession planning. The four panelists included Carol Pepper of Pepper International, NYU Stern Professor, Kenneth Preston who teaches the very popular course “Managing Growing Companies”, Louie Sheetz of Sheetz, Inc, a family owned convenience store chain, and Arthur Wynne III, a fourth-generation family business man for Burrelle’s Information Services. The evening concluded with a light dinner, providing participants with time to meet one another and network.
Professor Michael Preston, who teaches “Managing the Growing Company” at the School, served as moderator for the evening. He has witnessed a growing interest in family businesses among his students and alumni. “I was surprised at how many current and past students are part of a family business. The numbers have increased, especially in the past three years,” says Preston. “These students bring a fresh perspective to the classroom with interesting situations facing an expanding family company. This forum will allow like-minded individuals to come together to discuss issues that they have identified as important to them.”
Family businesses face distinct challenges, including managing conflict within a family, implementing governance structures and developing effective compensation and retention strategies for both family members and non-family employees. The forum will help support family businesses and provide members with opportunities to network and share experiences.
A variety of topics will be covered in a series of panel discussions, including sibling dynamics, estate planning, partnering with friends and how to succeed in a family business as an outsider. The next forum will take place in the fall.
If you would like to be notified of upcoming Family Business Network discussions and networking events at Columbia Business School, please contact Mayra Reyes at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 212.854.4225.