Why Would Any Next Genner in the 21st Century Want to Work in the Family Business
19th October 2020
The IFB recently launched the Debating Society – a safe space to come together and explore all the conundrums faced by family businesses. Our first debate looked at whether the next generation in the 21st Century should pursue a career in the family business.
A quick poll at the beginning of the event showed that 67% of the participants were in favour of the motion and 33% against.
The speakers – Charlie Field of CPJ Field & Co and Edouard Thijssen of Trusted Family - agreed that next generation members should be seen as catalysts for success and they should be granted the freedom to follow their individual passions and ambitions, either inside or outside the family business.
According to Charlie Field, working in the family business is a ‘golden ticket’, which gives you the opportunity to build on the success of others, but also to become a real changemaker, breaking down barriers and using your influence as a force for good.
He also argued that ‘people follow people’ and that family members have a key ambassadorial and leadership role to play in their enterprises.
‘Of course, you can always buy in brilliant talent but it’s the family members that make up the ‘secret sauce’ of keeping the business identity of a family business’ said Charlie. 'If we don’t encourage family leadership, we run the risk of losing the connection with the business'
Edouard Thijssen, who argued against the motion, questioned the definition of ‘long-term family business success’: does it mean long-term family business success or long-term family success?
According to Edouard, a necessary condition for success is entrepreneurial vision:
‘The focus, therefore, should be on cultivating and passing on the spirit of entrepreneurship, not necessarily the business itself’
As businesses come and go, the priority should be to ensure the success of the family. You can still become a real change maker by being a responsible owner who sets the vision of the family business and influences the Board, as well as the other shareholders. Owning an organisation driven by purpose and a strong set of family values creates a common a bond in the family, enabling them to achieve great things.
The chair of the debate, Juliette Johnson from Juliette Johnson Consultancy, explains that the idea of launching this debating series was not about answering the specific question, but about exploring the topic of next generation employment from all angles, and having the opportunity to delve into complexity and philosophy of the question being debated.
‘As we all know, being part of a family business is never straightforward and it’s often through experience, debate and discussion, that families are able to work out the right approach for themselves"
We may have not settled this conundrum once and for all (the closing poll results showed that 55% of the audience was in favour of the motion, vs 45% against it), but we had a fruitful discussion.
The series will continue in 2021 with more questions and experiences. If there are topics that you'd like to see covered, please email firstname.lastname@example.org