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Family Business Club on the Next Generation
10/10/2023

Family Business Club on the Next Generation

The third Family Business Summit focuses on the challenges facing the NextGen

This September brought the third edition of the Family Business Summit, hosted by students from WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management on its campus in Vallendar. Acting as the opener for the multi-day Campus for Family Business conference, this meeting of minds brought together representatives from family-owned businesses active in a variety of industries to dialog about the future and the next generation. The event is designed by students for students, giving the school’s enrollees a chance to meet with some of today’s most prominent business leaders and learn from the best.

The overarching message was clear: The time has come for the next generation to assume leadership positions in their own family businesses. But in today’s economic climate, they also have to face a whole new set of challenges—from sustainability to digitalization—topics with which even the largest companies have their struggles. Yet the importance of family businesses in modern German society should not be understated according to Justus Weber, advisor at WSH Family Office, who stated during his keynote speech that “they connect us to the ‘NextGen’ and have a substantial impact on the economy.” Luise Brinkmann, Executive Director of WHU’s Family Business Club, underscored this sentiment: “Family businesses are the very heart of our economy. In fact, approximately 90% of all companies in Germany are family owned, making their economic power of major importance.”

With a comprehensive agenda featuring seminars held by experts who know the world of family business inside and out, the conference-goers were able to focus on the topics most important to them. A diverse roster of guests all shared their personal experiences navigating the family business—including Christian Scherpel, fifth-generation executive at Malzers Backstube, Dr. Till Diergarten, a radiologist and at one time the owner of the MVZ Tuttlingen clinic, and Professor Peter May, Honorary Professor at WHU and Founder of Peter May Family Business Consulting.

The WHU Family Business Club, supported by Professor Nadine Kammerlander (Chairholder at the Institute of Family Business & Mittelstand), is an initiative created and directed by students who, although enrolled in diverse academic programs, share one common passion: They are confident in the power of the family businesses and their influence on innovation and entrepreneurship at home in Germany and abroad. Their ultimate goal is to give family businesses a voice at WHU and serve as a bridge between these companies and the school’s community. Every year, the club hosts events on campus or at company sites, giving dedicated students the chance to connect with other family businesses.

Those interested in learning more about the WHU Family Business Club and its activities are welcome to check out their LinkedIn page and their official online presence.

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