ISB Updates

Seventh Asian Invitational Conference on Family Business

ISB’s Thomas Schmidheiny Centre for Family Enterprise hosted the Seventh Asian Invitational Conference on Family Business from February 1 to 3, 2019. The conference theme was ‘Generations to Generations – Building Family Business Legacy Harmoniously.’ Day 1 was devoted to the academic conference in which 40 academicians presented their research papers and case studies on family business. Globally renowned family business scholar, Professor Pramodita Sharma, University of Vermont shared her valuable insights on the evolution, current status and future possibilities in family business research. She also shared thoughts on the process of publishing impactful research. The delegates were also provided advice on how to write an effective teaching case study. The attendees highly appreciated the learnings from these sessions and were immensely benefitted from the review feedback on their case study and research paper submissions.

The conference, Day 2 and 3, saw 26 prominent family business leaders and experts share their wisdom, experiences and valuable advice with over 350 conference delegates. These delegates were mainly members of the family business community, who came from Sri Lanka, Malaysia, UK and Japan besides India. The conference speakers spoke on various topics: building a family business as a lasting institution, family governance, professionalisation, developing next-generation leadership, redefining the role of women in family business and leadership and continuity in a changing world.
Addressing the delegates on building long-lasting institutions, Deepak Parekh, Chairman, HDFC Limited shared his experiences in developing HDFC as the nation’s premier housing finance company and the evolution of HDFC Bank. Stressing on the need to gear-up for the future, Dr Thomas Schmidheiny, Chairman and Founder, Spectrum Value Management Limited described global mega-trends and how these are likely to affect family businesses. Recounting the 350-year long journey of the German chemicals major, Merck, Dr Frank Stangenberg Haverkamp, Chairman, Executive Board and Family Board, E Merck KG, emphasised on the importance of enduring family values, transgenerational leadership and governance. Farhad Forbes, Co-Chairman, Forbes Marshall Limited shared valuable thoughts on what Indian family businesses can learn from some of the best global peers.

These engaging discussions continued the following day. Mohan Reddy BVR, Executive Chairman, Cyient Limited and Ann Veruschka Jurisch, Director, Ernst Schmidheiny Foundation had an insightful discussion on managing business and philanthropy across generations. Some of the other discussion topics included the evolving role of women in family business, changing social trends and their impact on continuity in business families and next-generation leadership in family business. In the concluding session, M M Murugappan, Executive Chairman, Murugappa Group shared with the delegates how trusteeship formed the core of their businesses and has helped the Murugappa group thrive through five generations. 

The conference was in accordance with the Centre’s outreach initiatives to sensitise and build capabilities in family businesses across Asia. The event also served as a platform for the members of the family business to network, reflect and share ideas and experiences. It aimed to offer great value to family businesses and was highly appreciated by the delegates. The conference concluded on February 3, with the valedictory address by Kavil Ramachandran, Professor and Executive Director, Thomas Schmidheiny Centre for Family Enterprise, ISB, who encouraged the family business community to continue benefitting from such conferences and learning opportunities and transform their businesses into long-lasting institutions.

For more details about the conference, please visit the conference site: