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Who is going to be the next manager?

Who is going to be the next manager?

Photographer:Fotograaf: Photo Archive Robbert Hamer

Many students choose International Business because of a family business

Quite a few Maastricht students choose International Business Administration and especially the master's programme of entrepreneurship because they grew up in a family business. But what is it like to have your father or mother as a boss? And who will take over from him or her?

Running a family business is extremely complicated, partly because there are so many parties involved, says Anita van Gils, senior lecturer at the School of Business and Economics. “There are the managers, former managers, children, partners. And when a business grows beyond its means, you then also need a manager from outside who can operate in this special family environment.”

The greatest problem is who will take over? “It used to be that the father selected someone, usually the first-born. But the present generation chooses a study, does traineeships abroad and is more concerned with their own development than with one particular business.”

German master's student Anja Morbach, 26, grew up in a family – in the neighbourhood of Trier – that has three and a half hectares of land for winegrowing and also runs a guesthouse with seven rooms. And has been doing so since 1664! Nevertheless, Morbach is not overflowing with enthusiasm to take over the business. She wants to start her own enterprise. “I have always had the urge to set up something myself. Partly because I want to know what I am capable of.”

American Christopher Buehler, 25, does want to join the management of the family business Buehler Food markets, a supermarket chain in Ohio with three thousand employees. But not just yet. The family wants him and the other kids to gain some useful knowledge and experience outside the business. This is the reason why the master's student has worked in a bank for a few years. “Once I take on a position at Buehler, I will never leave. And I have been working there since I was fifteen, doing holiday jobs. The business was omnipresent, friends constantly reminded you of that. Sometimes it is too much. That is another reason why it is great to be in the Netherlands.”

Something similar applies to former student Robbert Hamer, 26. He has worked for Florensis for a year now, which cultivates plants. But last Tuesday was his first day at Nutreco, an animal feed producer that is listed on the stock exchange. Father and son agreed that Robbert would first get some experience in the family business for a year and then broaden his horizon by working elsewhere for few years. “At Nutreco I work as a business analyst in a close-knit team, close to the CEO. This is comparable to the atmosphere in our family business.”

He will go back to Florensis in about five years. As the boss of course. “No, it is not so obvious at all, because I have three younger brothers, one of whom is studying economics at a school of higher professional education. We will have to discuss that at some stage. My father will decide in the end, but it is difficult. Just like the matter of company shares. They will be distributed among a lot of nephews. Is that what we want? Because owning shares means having a say. But what is not good, is that too many people interfere with the business.”


Maurice Timmermans

Look here for the longer version of this story

In april 2011, SBE starts a course on family business



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