It all started in 2006. Thijssen, new to the ways of the family business world, was sent to a conference organized by the Family Business Network. Still at university in Belgium, he had a lot to learn about his legacy as a fifth-generation member of a well-established, large family business. At the same conference, Janssen was speaking about the challenges of transitioning from a corporate environment at Morgan Stanley to working within his family business. Janssen, a sixth-generation member of the Solvay family, had faced the task of bringing together his extended family. He shared his experiences and revealed that communicating was often harder than expected. It wasn’t long before the two Edouards were sitting at a table, contemplating the issue of creating tight, binding cohesion among members of their extended families in a neat and secure manner. Both realized they had limited knowledge of their own family businesses, their family legacies, and didn’t even know their aunts, uncles and cousins too well. Their early discussions coincided with the birth of Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn and they were both convinced that the internet offered an excellent foundation for creating a secure, modern, communications platform. Business cards were exchanged and plans were firmed up – further discussions and research was required. They discovered that there was no real solution addressing their needs. Some families invested heavily in bespoke software and systems that ultimately failed, either because of a lack of technical resources or the inability to manage it on a long-term basis. It provides an innovative and entertaining basis to discuss a number of critical family business issues, such as governance and the communication needs of large multi-generational family firms, entrepreneurship by next generation members, the brand value of family names, etc. Learning objectives: Discuss key family business issues, such as governance and communication needs of large multi-generational family firms, entrepreneurship by next-generation members and the brand value of family names.
Discuss key family business issues, such as governance and communication needs of large multi-generational family firms, entrepreneurship by next-generation members and the brand value of family names.
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