Several weeks ago, Amway made the headlines – the privately-held, family-owned company hired its first non-family CEO, Milind Pant. Mr. Pant brings tremendous leadership and business experience to the company and has worked extensively in Asia, Africa, and Europe. Nevertheless, this is big news as the company has been led by a family member for nearly sixty years.
Many family businesses believe that succession only involves developing leadership within the next generation. Often this is true. But with the advent of millennials seeking careers outside the family business, many companies are looking for other succession options.
In the case of our family business, my husband’s great-grandfather, grandfather, and father all took the reins of the company. But by the 1990’s, my father-in-law was ready to pursue other interests. My husband was in his late 20s and was practicing antitrust law in Washington, DC – not yet the leader the company needed. The board reached out to a nonfamily president who stayed with the business for over 20 years and achieved tremendous success.
Fast forward to today where my husband has been serving as CEO for three years. The transition process was extensive and involved him getting his MBA, gradually taking on new responsibilities, and gaining the support and confidence of the board. It has been a rewarding, but sometimes stressful, process – one that we may need to repeat with our teenage daughter in 20 years.
We relied heavily on family business consultants, family council meetings, and an engaged board and staff to assist in the transition. If you are facing a change in leadership in the next 10 years, we encourage you to join our annual forum on November 8 with Joe Astrachan. This presentation will provide you with the guidance and resources that you need to be successful in your journey. If you’re looking for an in depth more personal focus, please look at our follow up Deep Dive on succession as well. Please see the links below to register.
Written by Diana Schad
CEO, Family Business Alliance