Cornell University’s Daniel Van Der Vliet Details Lessons Learned with Next Generation Leaders in Latest ‘Voice of Family Business’ Podcast


Daniel Van Der Vliet of Smith Family Business Initiative at Cornell University’s S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management Discusses Guiding the Next Generation of Family Business Leaders with Host Pat Soldano of Family Enterprise USA


Next generation leadership challenges are similar around the world when it comes to transitioning family businesses, according to Cornell University’s Daniel Van Der Vliet, the John and Dyan Smith Executive Director Family Business at the university’s S.C Johnson Graduate School of Management.

In a newly released podcast from the “The Voice of Family Business on Capitol Hill,” by Family Enterprise USA, Van Der Vliet discusses with podcast host Pat Soldano the growing interest in family business management practices in academia, and how basic intra-family communication is a critical first step for the next generation.

Soldano, President of Family Enterprise USA and its sister organization Policy and Taxation Group, both based here, spoke with Van Der Vliet recently from his Cornell office in Ithaca, New York.

In the podcast, Soldano and Van Der Vliet discuss how Cornell guides young family business leaders on approaching the uncomfortable first conversations with parents, or relatives, about their role in the business.

I am always surprised to hear from my students how very little they know about their family business,” says Van Der Viet. “Many have never had the conversation about their potential role in the company, so the first step is to open that door of communication,” he says.

Van Der Vliet discusses his recent travels to India and details the similarities and differences with family businesses in the U.S. and there, where he estimates 90 percent of the business are family-owned.

“In India, the same succession issues are at play, but other factors complicate things,” he says. “Families are extremely close knit, often living under the same roof, but cultural rules dictate next generation roles in the business.” The Cornell director cites the limited role of women in business in India as one example.

“Will the next generation step up?” asks Soldano, during the podcast. “The topic of succession planning is always at the top of the list in discussion I meet with family businesses around the country. The question is always: ‘Do we have the next generation of leadership ready to take over?’” she says. “It’s heartening to see family business centers and academia finally helping in this transition to new leaders and beginning to create coursework that will take family business into the future.”

This latest episode in the podcast series, is now airing on Spotify, and other major podcast platforms, such as Apple iTunes and TuneIn.

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