How business school can help students meet the unique challenges of family enterprises
reprinted excerpts By M. Filtz, Mar 21, 2012
When Ben Grossman received his MBA from Columbia Business School in 2006, he faced a tough decision: he could either take a lucrative full-time job at Goldman-Sachs or go work for his family’s business.
He opted for the latter.
“I was most passionate about going to work with my family – working with my brother and my dad,” says Grossman, now the co-president of Grossman Marketing Group, which was founded by his great-grandfather in 1910.
Grossman is not alone. Recent studies have shown that family businesses may account for at least a third of the United States’ annual GDP; and they may employ at least a quarter of its workforce. For many sons and daughters of family business leaders, as well as non-related executives working in those enterprises, family business is big business.
But they can pose some unique challenges, especially if you’re part of the family….
….Some MBA programs have specialized curriculum options and other resources that meet the particular needs and challenges of students working in family enterprises. For example, UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, through its Family Enterprise Center, offers two courses designed specifically for students working in – or planning to work in – family-run businesses. These courses cover specific issues like governance, succession, and the overall evolution of a family business.
The center’s co-founder and director, Cooper Biersach, says that these courses and other resources “help students synthesize what they’re learning in other classes with a family business perspective,” sort of as a way to tailor the b-school experience for their specific needs.
….UNC’s Biersach finds that students, almost immediately, start thinking about how to practically apply business school concepts to their businesses. Once students get to know each other through the family business courses, they’ll often meet after their more general courses – like a marketing class, for instance – and ask each other, “how are you going to implement this in your family business?”
This piece was originally written for FIND MBA. Visit their website to learn more.