Family Business

Integrating a traditional family business


3 min




Listen to Lavanya Nalli Ramanathan, a 5th Generation family business member and MBA Student at Harvard Business School, describe the process of integrating a traditional family business.





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It is a large family, but it is traditionally been handed down from the first son to the first son. So there has been somewhat of a clear hierarchy in terms of the succession, and my brother is six years younger than I am, so he is, so he is quite prepared to join the business. With things like succession and so on, you do not bring it up because it is not polite. Especially when you have, I have got my grandfather and my father both very strongly involved in the business, and it would not be, it would be considered rude if I brought it up and said, “What about succession, and who is next in line?” and things like that, but the way that I brought the dialogue about was saying that I would like to be involved, and I think there is a lot of value ... View More that I could add. And I had the dialogue with my brother as well. So he was much younger when I first, when I joined but we have been having a talk for the last few years about how can we work together and how do we work not just together with each other but also with you know, with my father, and my grandfather like between the generations, and I think those kind of dialogues have been good. There was some resistance, and I realized that it was not resistance because I was a woman or this has not been done before. It was upsetting his plans, because my father had a certain succession plan. The good was I was also in a situation where I was figuring out if this was the right place for me, because if the culture was too resistant to any kind of change then I think that I would not have grown or thrived in an environment like that, and I would have left the family business and joined something else, so it was a test from both sides. I was with the business for four years, and now I am taking a break and I am in school. And I like working in the family business, and I like the… There is a sense of autonomy. There is a sense of ownership, and it is nice to connect with your family members in a way that you had never seen them before. And I saw, and I really liked everything that came with working in the family business. That is when I started the dialogue of I think I would like to stick on, not in a temporary position, but in the way you would think about succession and about grooming your children to take on a leadership role in the company, I would like to be considered for that position. And I think that the company has enough potential for there to be two people running it, and it is just the question of how do you work out what your responsibilities are. And I had confidence that him and I have a good working relationship, my brother and I, and we should be able to come to a, you know, to a mutually beneficial solution.