Family Business

Young successors studying overseas


4 min




Listen to several young successors share their thoughts on the experience of studying overseas before re-entry into the family business and what they've learned through the process. Independent work or study is effective in allowing the rising generation to develop new experiences that they can bring back to the family business.




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MBA Student at Harvard Business School
We have been blessed with this education. The problem is how do we talk the same language with our siblings? How do we talk the same language with our parents who did not have the blessings that we have had?

Pankaj Dinodia
I grew up in India, and I have spent the last ten years in the U.S., both in terms of my undergraduate education, having a little bit of work experience here in the U.S., and then I actually went back to my family business to see it before Harvard Business School just to get a flavor of what it was about, so that I am not completely blind-sided when I was to come back to it. And that really served me well, because I got my hands dirty in the business, you know, saw how my relationship ... View More with my father, my uncle, my grandfather, my sister would be when I would come back.

Lavanya Nalli Ramanathan
I have been in very close contact with my father and my grandfather, both of whom I worked with for four years before coming to the MBA program. One of the ways that the education here has helped me is in talking them through, exploring other business models, other families, not necessarily family businesses, but other businesses themselves, in a similar industry or at a similar transition point where they are looking at growing, they are looking at ways to fund, and how those differ from the issues that the family is facing and how those are similar and what lessons we could learn. It has led to some very surprising solutions, which I think we would not have found on our own.

Pankaj Dinodia
My dad one time asked me, he was like, “Listen if you are thinking about not coming back and if you find good job opportunities in the U.S., I would appreciate if you told me sooner rather than later, right? And it is totally fine and you know, what not.” For me part of the decision is professional but a lot of it is personal. You know, my parents and grandparents have done so much for me. This is my opportunity to do a little bit of something for them.

Lavanya Nalli Ramanathan
How has this experience changed me, and how does that reflect on the family business when I go back? It is definitely been a transformational experience for me, and I think there is great merit to going through a process like that, plus there is an independence, the kind of thinking you do when you are away from your family, and you can sort of reflect and introspect on the lessons you have learned.

MBA Student at Harvard Business School
Coming from a developing country where capitalism and helping people are distinct. The biggest thing I have learned here was they do not have to be mutually exclusive, that you can make money at the same time make a difference in people’s lives, make a difference in society, and that is something that was just mind boggling.

Pankaj Dinodia
If you know, people who are in similar situations decide not to go back that is a really tough conversation to have with your parents and your grandparents and the clients and the customers of the firm, especially if you worked there before. What is the message that is being sent to the family, what is the message that is being sent to the clients, customers, suppliers, are there legacy issues, is this the last you know for us, we have siblings, but you know if you are the only child, if you decide not to go back, those questions become really important.