About the first Levant Family Business Podcast Listening Party
Written by Farida El Agamy, General Manager of the Tharawat Family Business Forum.
Sometimes a conversation is all it takes. In the world of family business, conversations are a genesis – an exchange of ideas, an exploration of possibilities and a backdrop for resolutions. This was one of the reasons we started ‘The Levant Family Business Podcast’ with our partners AGW Family Business Advisory in Beirut. The podcast is a unique platform to aggregate knowledge and encourage open dialogue on family business best practices in the Levant region. The Levant Family Business Podcast features conversations with family business leaders and experts providing listeners with invaluable insight into the experience of family firms across the region.
The concept is a unique platform to aggregate knowledge and encourage open dialogue on family business best practices in the Levant region.
After a year of development, on June 17th 2019, we had the immense pleasure of hosting our very first Podcast Listening Party in Beirut. A “podcast listening party” is a new phenomenon, during which participants jointly listen to a podcast episode, which then serves as the basis for a discussion on the episode’s topic. Our first listening party was joined by family business members from across Beirut and neighbouring cities and was held in the charming BEYt Mar Mikhael, which lent a rarefied ambience to the intimate gathering.
Over the course of the evening, we listened to excerpts from an episode during which we interviewed Mr Hovig Kozobiokian, Managing Partner at Dekerco Foods and Processing SAL. Mr Kozobiokian personally joined us at the event to further discuss his unique perspective on governance in Lebanese family firms drawing on his rich personal experience and research. With attendees that included family business members from several different generations, the conversation became an inspired and thought-provoking dialogue between peers. As the diverse group of attendees interacted with one another, their discourse shed light on succession planning, family talent development and access to family business education in Lebanese family businesses.
Mr Kozobiokian personally joined us at the event to further discuss his unique perspective on governance in Lebanese family firms drawing on his rich personal experience and research.
Here a couple of things that we learnt during the conversation:
How should we approach next-generation autonomy and succession?
Our discussion came to revolve around the critical question: How do we balance next-generation autonomy with the need for family business continuity, when considering succession? Members reflected on their own experiences, and exchanged thoughts on the fairness of forcing or even manipulating a child into joining the family firm. The collective agreed that only contented and motivated successors make for an effective transition. Family members need to find their own way to the family business to be successful.
This is key aspect that families have to address during the succession process. One of the reasons of family business failure is a lack of motivation and passion in leadership. At Tharawat we believe that this can be prevented if families create a balanced approach between freedom of choice and family duty and have an open dialogue on the matter.
What will bridge the lack of family business education in the region?
Sadly, the group had to admit that family business resources and access to the relevant education is lacking in the region. Young family business members are missing out on structured learning on what it means to join, grow in and eventually run a family business.
The participants discussed how best to prepare next-generation leaders. Many suggestions involved dynamic ideation alongside universities to develop comprehensive family business oriented curricula. Others argued that academia cannot possibly fill the void – family business learning must have practical components, with real-life insight, knowledge and first-hand experience.
This point is absolutely crucial! Unfortunately, there is a lack of strategic, in-depth and practical education for family business members in this region. We often notice this when working with next generation members who return from studies abroad: they get exposed to international best practice and Western governance models and get very frustrated when trying to implement this in the region. Realities are sometimes just too different. It is all our responsibilities to amend this situation and create the best possible opportunities for our emerging leaders to thrive!
It is all our responsibilities to amend this situation and create the best possible opportunities for our emerging leaders to thrive!
What is the difference between being a good manager and a good owner, and why is this differentiation important when it comes to succession?
One of the participants highlighted an often-overlooked duality: the difference between being a good manager and being a good owner. By making a clear delineation between these roles, families can show next-generation members that creating an impact does not necessarily require a role in upper management.
I was delighted to hear this comment: Being a good owner is as important as being a skilled manager, and as generations grow, clarity of the different roles one can play in the family firm can lead to an interesting, dynamic and growth-oriented model that draws on everyone’s skills and interests.
Hosting these singular conversations, defined by their unparalleled openness and positivity, is perhaps the greatest pleasure of the work we do at Tharawat and AGW. We look forward to every opportunity that allows us to curate a space for such important conversations to take place and to lead to a more open and respectful conversation on the importance of family firm sustainability in our region.
Please subscribe to the Levant Family Business Podcast on Soundcloud to stay up to date with our upcoming episodes. You can find us at www.soundcloud.com/tharawat
Find out more about AGW Family Business Advisory here: http://www.agw-advisory.com/