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Breakfast CEFUV - Succesors: Challenges and learnings after receiving the baton

  • March 13th, 2024
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Yesterday, 12 March 2024, the Chair of Family Business of the University of Valencia (CEFUV) promoted by the Valencian Association of Entrepreneurs (AVE), EDEM School of Entrepreneurship, the Valencian Institute for the Study of Family Business (IVEFA), the Instituto de la Empresa Familiar (IEF) and the Universitat de València (UV), and sponsored by CaixaBank and Broseta, has organised a new breakfast meeting to discuss experiences on the succession process in family businesses, from the perspective of the successors who take over the leadership.


The breakfast began with a presentation by the Director of the Chair in Family Business, Alejandro Escribá, who introduced the speakers and highlighted the importance of the topic addressed on this occasion: "taking over the management of a family business, receiving the baton from the previous generation, is an enormous challenge and a great responsibility for the people who receive this task. How can this challenge be taken on? What steps, actions or structures can be useful for the successors to take on their new functions efficiently and with solvency?


To answer these questions, a discussion took place, moderated by Alejandro Escribá, with León Grau (CEO of Hilaturas Miel) and Nuria Luna (CEO of Pinturas Blatem), who recounted their experiences and lessons learned after taking over the baton in their family businesses.

During his speech, León Grau, CEO of Hilaturas Miel, contextualised his arrival at the helm of the company, and stated that "the first steps after taking over require working patiently and prudently, basing decisions very well in order to achieve acceptance by the management team you join".

With regard to the main lessons learned, Grau commented that one learns by making decisions, and that the most difficult moments are the ones that generate the most learning opportunities. "It is in crises that we family entrepreneurs give the most of ourselves".

In his opinion, in many family businesses, structures and decisions are adapted according to circumstances, but he thought it was interesting to reflect on succession processes. In this way, it is possible to work on creating the right context so that succession can be carried out at any time when circumstances require it.

For her part, Nuria Luna, CEO of Pinturas Blatem, recounted the history of the family business that she now heads, created more than six decades ago by her father, a painter who decided to start up and create paints the way he wanted. Luna, who took over the management of the company in March 2020, says that "since then I have done a master's degree in pandemics, scarcity of raw materials, wars, plastic tax, sustainability, transport costs and a long etcetera", while she focuses on one of her main challenges, change management: "for me, change management is a particularly challenging process that involves carefully navigating the complex interactions between family dynamics and business needs and requires a strategic approach, effective communication and committed leadership to achieve success".

Precisely the family-company relationship is one of the most complex aspects that Nuria Luna points out in her time as head: "years ago we signed a protocol, a pact that regulates the relationship between company, family and ownership (shareholders), in order to guarantee the stability of the family business and its future projection". He also points out that "we have a Family Council, the forum in which family members define and make decisions about their relationship with the company and ownership, which is made up not only of my brothers and my father, but also of external professionals who provide us with a great deal of value".

To conclude, Alejandro Escribá stressed that "succession planning requires a dual perspective, that of the successor, who must prepare to lead the project, and that of the person handing over the baton, who must prepare the organisation to accompany the successor in the process and facilitate the landing. The commitment of family successors is of great value. Business families must sow the seed to facilitate the emergence of talent and commitment among their members. If this seed germinates, the next challenge is to provide the company with the right structure for this talent to develop, and to prepare the future of the outgoing generation by ensuring their financial, mental and emotional peace of mind. To this end, the communication systems with shareholders and control structures need to be well developed. Likewise, the people who hand over the baton must nurture their social relations and their alternative ways of occupying their time in order to truly enjoy the new phase.