Couple working in their family cafe.

Family business practitioners

24 November 2021

The article at a glance

The Family Firm Institute Global Conference featured keynote addresses from Christoph Loch and Stelios Kavadias of Cambridge Judge Business School.

The Family Firm Institute Global Conference featured keynote addresses from Christoph Loch and Stelios Kavadias of Cambridge Judge Business School.

Christoph Loch.
Professor Christoph Loch

Family business leaders are known for taking a beneficial long-term approach, but better governance structures are needed to contain the darker side of family business leadership, the former Dean of Cambridge Judge Business School, Professor Christoph Loch, told the 2021 Family Firm Institute Global Conference.

There is a ‘contradiction’ in family firm leadership, because while family firms are known for mutual commitment and loyalty through the assumption of ‘benign authority’, family business leaders can also suffer narcissism that leads to damaging hubris, Professor Loch said in a keynote address entitled “Leadership in Family Firms – A Dual Face?”. Professor Loch served as Dean of the Business School for 10 years, through August 2021.

The opening keynote was delivered by Dr Fisk Johnson, CEO and Chair of the Board of S.C. Johnson, a family company known for household consumer products. His address included a values statement inherited from his grandfather: “The goodwill of the people is the only enduring thing in any business. It’s the sole substance. The rest is shadow”.

Cambridge Judge served as academic partner for the weeklong event held in October, entitled Shaping Futures: Evolve, Emerge, Engage, which was held in London, Cambridge and online. Professor Panikkos Poutziouris (Honorary Fellow at CJBS), who heads the Executive MBA (EMBA) module, Enterprising Families, at Cambridge Judge connected the Business School with this global community of family business practitioners. He chaired the conference programme committee which included Dr Khaled Soufani, Director of the Cambridge Executive MBA Programme at Cambridge Judge, and as co-chairs they led the family Business Policy Forum, which was hosted at CJBS and sponsored by KPMG. 

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Professor Stelios Kavadias

Professor Stelios Kavadias, Vice Dean for Faculty and Director of the Entrepreneurship Centre at Cambridge Judge delivered the keynote at the policy forum. He noted that in the UK family firms comprise 86% of total businesses, employ 39% of employees and contribute 29% of GDP. The biggest challenges for growing family firms include building talent and expanding into new markets and segments, improving digital capabilities, and introducing new products and services, he said in his presentation, entitled “Family Firms: a support and growth agenda”.

The opening conference reception was held at the House of Lords. It was hosted by Lord Karan Bilimoria, former Chair of the Advisory Board of Cambridge Judge and now President of the Confederation of British Industry, and delegates were welcomed by Professor Vincent Mak, Vice Dean for Programmes and Research at Cambridge Judge.