The Levant Family Business Podcast – Hiring A Non-Family CEO – Is Your Family Business Ready? 

Episode 16: Engaging A Non-Family CEO, A Conversation With Cherine Debbas.

There may come a time when a family business needs to find outside talent to run the family business. Though the majority of family businesses tend to prefer next generational leadership and management in their operations, in reality, this is not always a realistic or sensible decision for the business. The incorporation of a non-family CEO can be a great solution to bring capable and industry-specific know-how, expertise and leadership into the family firm. However, integrating a non-family CEO may become a tumultuous and complicated journey, for both parties. With a new CEO comes significant change, and it can be challenging for family members to adjust to the new realities.
So what are the steps that can be taken to prepare both the family and the CEO in order for the transition to run as smoothly as possible? What are the challenges and considerations that need to be taken for this new dynamic to work effectively?
In this episode, Cherine Debbas from AGW Family Business Advisory joins us to answer these important questions and to share her expertise and knowledge on this interesting topic.

What are the main motivations to engage a Non-Family CEO?
“Every family business is different. Some families plan ahead and make a strategic decision to engage a non-family CEO, whilst others seek out a non-family CEO out of circumstance, the latter being the most regularly seen here in Lebanon. The most common circumstances are ageing patriarchs with no obvious successors lined up ready to take over, resulting in an urgency and necessity to fill that gap.”
Cherine Debbas


  • What are the most common obstacles that a non-family CEO can face when joining a family firm?
  • What are the reasons for failure when engaging a non-family CEO in a family business?
  • How can family businesses prepare for a non-family CEO and what considerations can they make?
  • How can a non-family CEO be prepared to enter a family business?
  • What are the advantages of appointing a non-family CEO in a family business?
  • In which Generation of a family businesses lifespan is a non-family CEO most likely appointed?

This episode is hosted by Farida El Agamy, General Manager of Tharawat Family Business Forum.
You can listen to the full series of The Levant Family Business Podcast on

This podcast series is designed by The Tharawat Family Business Forum and produced in collaboration with AGW Family Business Advisory. More information on and