Held at the Island Shangri-La hotel in Hong Kong on the 29th of June, the forum explored the challenges and rewards of working in family driven enterprises. This invitation only event was attended by the best and brightest second generation business leaders, predominantly from prominent family businesses in Asia.
While most attendees had diverse backgrounds and unique perspectives on their businesses some common themes began to emerge as the day progressed. Three perspectives that
- Make your mistakes elsewhere: Almost every panelist had worked as an investment banker or management consultant prior to joining their family business. While a panelist jokingly referred to himself as an excel monkey, training at a financial institution, particularly with an investment bank grooms you to think strategically about the business as a whole. Getting work experience elsewhere also allows you to explore other opportunities – once you join a family business it is near impossible to leave.
- Challenges faced are not unique: Working with family is hard, the lines between personal and professional often get blurred. While no concrete solution was presented, the consensus was to simply roll with the punches.
- Succession planning & Importance of professional managers: Your last name may give you the keys to the door, but it won’t get yo u a seat at the table. Managers are hired on the basis of their skills, expertise and experience, not through nepotism. The second generation, in many cases report into existing structures and complete business rotations prior to taking on managerial roles, especially in businesses where the founders are still active.
All in all, it was an excellent meeting of minds where idea’s were openly shared and lifelong relationships were forged.
From the conference website:
“Family-driven enterprises are the essence of Asian business. Grooming successful leaders of the next generation is paramount to ensuring the continuity of family values and future prosperity. The stars of the next generation in Asia are among the world’s best and brightest leaders. Their horizons are wide, and even more global than the most ambitious visions of founders from a previous era. How are Asia’s next tycoons calling the shots as chief executives of family companies, innovating as entrepreneurs, creating value as investors, and making the world a better place as agents of change? How do they think differently and what are the issues that matter most to them? What is their vision for the future? This year’s Forbes Asia Forum: The Next Tycoons will gather some of Asia’s most outstanding leaders of the next generation, and generate insights on how their ideas, aspirations, practices and passions are reshaping Asian business and redefining leadership.”