A Resounding Success: Family Business Governance Takes Center Stage

By Prof. Enrique soriano

I found myself both exhausted and exhilarated, having crossed three time zones, but the fatigue I felt seemed inconsequential compared to the overwhelming sense of gratitude and inspiration that emanated from the remarkable success of the Family Business event held in Manila on August 19th at the Crowne Plaza in Ortigas Center. The event’s full house served 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.

Characterized by an unexpected turnout of nearly 300 attendees, this event has now firmly established 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 basked in the spotlight, family business governance is now stepping into the forefront. But why is this shift happening, and what lessons can we draw from it?

Family Business Governance Reinforces Corporate Governance

Historically, family businesses were often seen as underdogs in the world of corporate governance, overshadowed by larger, publicly traded corporations. They operated quietly, keeping their successes and struggles within the family circle. However, the landscape is changing rapidly.

One key reason for this shift is the evolving perception of family businesses. They are no longer viewed as quaint, small-scale enterprises but as dynamic and influential economic entities. Many well-known global brands, from Ford to Walmart to Samsung, are family-controlled enterprises. These businesses make substantial contributions to job creation and economic growth, positioning themselves as vital players in today’s global economy.

Furthermore, the crucible of the COVID-19 pandemic brought family businesses to the forefront. Their resilience and adaptability during challenging times became unmistakably evident. While some publicly traded companies faltered, many family businesses demonstrated remarkable agility and an unwavering commitment to their employees and communities.

The event, impeccably executed by ICON Executive Events, featured an esteemed panel of resource speakers, including the renowned global thought leader, Dr. Josh Baron. Dr. Baron, a governance professor at Harvard Business School and co-founder of BanyanGlobal Family Business Advisors, a Boston-based consulting firm with a global footprint spanning Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America, shared invaluable insights related to family conflict management.

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: Kevin Tan, the passionate 42-year-old Group CEO of Alliance Global Inc., a major conglomerate with core businesses spanning 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, aged 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. I will delve deeper into these insights in forthcoming articles.

But for those who missed the August event, we extend a warm invitation to listen and participate in our upcoming inaugural webinar series, “Stewardship + Succession + Wealth = Legacy: A Family Guide to Building and Sustaining Your Wealth.” This series, scheduled for September 16th, 18th, and 19th, promises invaluable insights into safeguarding your family business for generations to come. We encourage you to secure your seat now by contacting Doms at 09178981493 or emailing him at dlagco@wbadvisoryasia.com. Be sure to act promptly as slots are limited, and this transformative journey is just beginning.