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Keys for the optimum operation of family business governance bodies

15/11/2012 (dd/mm/yyyy) | Madrid


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"It is extremely important to make roles clear and discuss business and family issues on separate occasions", stressed Julia Téllez, Director of the Family Business Division at Gómez-Acebo & Pombo, during panel discussion, "Keys for the optimum operation of family business governing bodies" held at ESADE Madrid. 

Also speaking at the event, staged by the ESADE Alumni Family Business Club, was Alfonso Merry del Val, an independent director of family-run distribution firms. For Merry del Val, the figure of an external director "is fundamental. He or she acts as an intermediary and it is advisable to learn how to use this role". Going further, Alberto Gimeno, Professor of Strategy and General Management at ESADE, vouched that an external director should not only be used as a mediator, "but also as an advisor who operates as a company leader on a controlling level".

Learn how to move on

Another key issue in family business entails designing specific protocol. "Each step of the business calls for a specific structure focussing on governance, the family and ownership", said Ms. Téllez, adding that "90% of family business failures are due to unresolved personal disputes". On the same note, she stressed that "everything must be talked about, but once done it's time to move on. The executive board cannot turn into a forum for petty disputes, nor can its members become fondly-perceived trouble-makers".  

Likewise, Gimeno underlined the need to “ensure that control-related differences – which always occur – do not intensify and end up being a personal dispute about not what was said, but who said it¿. Hence, from the outset, the family should “share an exciting vision and face up to commitments¿, commented Ms. Téllez.

Trust and values

Meanwhile, Alfonso Merry del Val highlighted that trust and values suffer when a difference becomes a dispute. "The minute that values are lost, trust is lost", he said; adding, "all the interpretations of how to govern family businesses well are related to trust and loyalty".




The ESADE Alumni Family Business Club invites you to attend this round table, which will look at how many family businesses, even those with a board of directors or family board, do not make good use of these, since it is hard to get boards to work properly.

The important thing for a family business is not so much setting up this governing body, but how it carries out its functions. As a result, we will try to answer the following questions: What are the functions of a family board? What is the main function of a board of directors in a family business? Good governance has a crucial impact on the development of a family business; so management is important, but governing is key.

In this session, we will be joined by three experts in corporate governance involved in various family businesses. They will be on hand to give us some tips that will lend a practical perspective on working with the structures of these bodies so that they can add value to our company.

Pablo Hafner, Doctor in Economics from Universität St. Gallen (Switzerland), Consultant in Corporate Governance and Founder of Hafner & Partners
Julia Téllez, Director of the Family Business Area at Gómez-Acebo & Pombo and Independent Director
Alfonso Merry del Val, Independent Director of several family businesses

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