Reflections from the Global Family Business Summit
30th October 2019
Our hosts created an unforgettable experience for all of us and I warmly encourage you to attend an FBN Summit at least once, if you can, to experience our global community. It is absolutely unrivaled.
The conference theme was ‘paradoxes in family business’. A great opportunity to look at some of all those tough choices in family firms. These include patient capital and investing for the future vs. shareholder dividends - where is the right balance? Or employment policies for family members - how strict should they be?
There were also other important themes that emerged from the conversations. For instance, that family business is a journey.
Family businesses are there for the long term, and doing things combining a long-term outlook with a rapidly changing world is complex. Sometimes you have to travel at the speed of people's hearts and minds, and some other times things come up that need to be dealt with differently, but bringing in compassion, understanding, values and humanness into the system. Sometimes outside support is required, processes and structures may need to be put in place, and this takes time. Patience can be a virtue, but of course – talking about paradoxes - you have to get the balance right.
Another key learning that stood out for me was family business learning, and how key this is to the success of family businesses in the future. How do you learn as a family about your family business? What does it mean to be good owners? Dow do you make collective decisions and bring in the next generation?
Do you have a learning strategy for your family, so that they are equipped and know what is expected of them? And is this matched to what they are able to contribute at any given time? These are important questions with no easy answers.
During the summit I also had the absolute joy of co-presenting a workshop with IFB member and Board member Thomas Martin, Chairman of ARCO. I don't think it’s saying too much if I share with you that some of the participants came up to Thomas afterwards and told him he was their highlight of the summit!
I was extremely pleased to see that some of the long-standing members of our global network were being recognised for their huge contribution over many years. Andrew Wates OBE was naturally among them. A big thank you goes to Andrew for his huge contribution and wise council. We have all benefited from them immensely.
Each year a business is recognised as the 'family business of the year' by IMD, who undertake a rigorous process to find a strong winner. Pentland won the prestigious award in 2017. This year it went to Dachser, a family enterprise founded in 1930 and headquartered in Kempten, Germany.
Also each year an entrepreneurial next generation is recognised with an award. This year it was Robin Pho, second generation member of Singaporean family business Right People Renewable Energy and Founder of “From Doom to Bloom”. You can read more about him here.
Next year Hungary will host the Global Summit. Dates will follow soon so you can mark your diaries and hopefully join us.
 FBN is the global family business network we are the UK chapter of.