Exhausted and fatigued, I made my way to the airport for a lengthy flight to New York. En route to New York, I had two significant layovers scheduled, first in Singapore and then in Frankfurt. Despite my weariness, my exhaustion seemed inconsequential compared to the overwhelming sense of gratitude and inspiration I felt stemming from the remarkable success of the Family Business event in Manila last Saturday. With its exceptional achievements, this event serves as a powerful testament to the growing significance of family business governance, which has recently emerged from the shadows of its more widely recognized counterpart, corporate governance.

The event, characterized by an unexpected turnout of nearly 300 attendees, has solidified its position as one of the largest gatherings of family-owned businesses in this part of the globe. What's even more impressive is that it surpassed the attendance figures of the last major pre-pandemic conference organized by the same team at ICON Executive Events in August 2019. The demand for tickets reached full capacity two weeks before the event, unfortunately leaving more than 30 families unable to participate due to space constraints.

This surge in interest and participation underscores the increasing recognition of the unique challenges and opportunities faced by family businesses. While corporate governance has long been in the spotlight, family business governance is now stepping into the forefront. As it does, the question arises: Why is this shift happening, and what can we learn from it?

Family Business Governance Reinforces Corporate Governance 

Family businesses have historically been regarded as the underdogs in the world of corporate governance. Often overshadowed by the larger, publicly traded corporations, they operated quietly, keeping their successes and struggles within the family circle. However, the landscape is changing rapidly.

One catalyst for this transformation is the changing perception of family businesses. They are no longer perceived as quaint, small-scale enterprises but as dynamic and influential economic entities. Many well-known global brands like Ford, Walmart, and Samsung are family-controlled enterprises. These businesses make substantial contributions to job creation and economic growth, establishing themselves as vital players in today's global economy.

Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic brought family businesses to the limelight. Their resilience and adaptability during challenging times became evident. While some publicly traded companies faltered, many family businesses demonstrated remarkable agility and commitment to their employees and communities.

The event, flawlessly executed by ICON Executive Events, featured an esteemed panel of resource speakers, including the renowned global thought leader Dr. Josh Baron. As a governance professor at Harvard Business School and co-founder of Boston-based consulting firm BanyanGlobal Family Business Advisors, which maintains a global presence spanning Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America, Dr. Baron shared invaluable insights on family conflict management during his talk.

During my time on stage, I had the privilege of engaging in discussions with two exceptional second-generation leaders who have become exemplars of stewardship and succession. One of these leaders is Kevin Tan, the impassioned 42-year-old Group CEO of Alliance Global Inc., a major conglomerate encompassing core businesses in real estate, hospitality, food, gaming, and liquor. Remarkably, their liquor brand, Emperador, has consistently held the title of the world's largest brandy by volume for years. The second speaker, Lance Gokongwei, 56, serves as the President and CEO of JG Summit Group, renowned as one of the country's most diversified family businesses with interests in food, air transport, real estate, banking, retail, and petrochemicals. Kevin and Lance's profound insights provided participants with an inspiring glimpse into how these successors made substantial contributions to the businesses established by their founding fathers.

To be continued…

For those who missed the August 19, 2023 face-to-face event, you can still participate by registering for W+B's inaugural Webinar series titled "Stewardship + Succession + Wealth = Legacy: A Family Guide to Building and Sustaining Your Wealth" on September 8th, 12th, and 16th, from 9:00 AM to 12:00 NN.

This is a comprehensive 3-part webinar series with limited slots; hence, we encourage you to secure your spot promptly. This investment will ultimately mark the beginning of your journey toward safeguarding your family business for generations to come – a legacy poised to thrive for an entire century!