Before coming to UNC Kenan-Flagler, I viewed my family business as a natural extension of my family. It was something always present – from dinner table discussions to summers working in the office to the workers I had known my entire life. But I had never taken a step back to reflect on the business in a deeper sense – thinking about its strategy, longevity, and future.
During my two years at UNC Kenan-Flagler, the Family Enterprise Center taught me not only the importance of such reflection but more importantly they provided me the tools and the guidance to thoughtfully do so.
I learned what questions to ask, and how to listen. I learned about estate planning and taxation strategy. I went through in depth case studies of other family businesses, problem shooting and coming up with fact-based suggestions. I dove deeper into the complexities of family business – how these companies are more than businesses and how understanding emotional ties and relationships are important in analysis.
And I learned all of these skills surrounded by other students facing similar struggles and questions. For the first time, I not only reflected on my role in my family and the business, but I did so with students who pushed me to think deeper and reflect more thoughtfully.
Overall, when I entered my first Family Business meeting two years ago, I had no idea how transformative the experience would be. While I know this learning process will continue to take place over my lifetime, I rejoice in knowing the knowledge I have gained, and the FEC resources and alumni I can call on for the rest of my life.
By Laura Quinn (MBA ’14)
The Family Enterprise Center prepares next generation family business students for leadership and ownership in family firms.