Building a Worldclass Board for the Family Enterprise

The Colonnade Hotel
Boston, MA
April 18 - 20, 2018



A Forward-Looking Board is a Powerful Tool for Owners to Steer their Family Enterprise in the Next Economy.

Industries today face an accelerating rate of disruptive change, globalization, and competition.

More than ever, family businesses need value-creating Boards that partner with family owners and senior executives to set proper ambitious goals, adapt business models, and rethink resource allocation. A partnering Board guides owners with scaling their business(es) through organic growth or acquisitions, divestitures, liquidity events, new investments, setting up a family office, or other important activities.

In addition, a strategic Board at the highest level of the enterprise helps owners set direction for the family’s entire portfolio of businesses, investments, and entities. It helps define how the family can make its most important contributions to the enterprise. It helps ensure that the family enterprise makes the bold decisions needed to endure through the next generation.

A well-constructed Board is invaluable to growing family wealth and shaping the future of a multigenerational family enterprise.


“I found the Worldclass Boards Program truly inspiring, and loved every minute of it. It answered all of the questions that I had about good family business governance.”
– 5th generation Chairwoman of a global family business


Program Overview

The Building a Worldclass Board Program accelerates the planning and revitalization of a family enterprise’s corporate governance system—whether for an operating company, portfolio of companies, holding company, or family office.


The program explores the following themes related to how owners can maximize the value of their board(s):

  1. Governance Architecture: What are the different types of boards, and what are the right boards for your family enterprise?
  2. Role of the Board: What are the duties of a board at different stages in a family enterprise’s evolution?
  3. Board Design and Functionality: How is a board structured, composed, managed, and led?
  4. Board Performance: How is a board’s effectiveness evaluated and strengthened?
  5. Individual Impact: How do individuals more effectively contribute to the board, or prepare to serve on or lead the board?

The program strengthens the performance of directors, and expedites the preparation of future board members and board Chairs.


Topics Discussed


  • What a board provides to the owners, and what the owners need from the board to navigate the challenges of the next economy
  • Different types of boards and different roles for boards in this disruptive environment
  • How to architect the right board(s) for your family enterprise: operating companies, investment companies, impact investing entities, family office, and holding company



  • How the board reconnects with, and advances, the family enterprise’s vision for the future
  • Training the next generation to be solid board members
  • Symbiotic relationship and coordination between the Board and family governance



  • Main duties of a good board
  • Board’s responsibilities to gain economies of scope and reinforce the innovation agenda
  • Board’s role in integrating corporate strategy and talent strategy



  • How to compose an effective board, and the different composition needs of different boards
  • Independent directors: recruiting, compensation, and getting the most value from them
  • Family directors: preparation, development, and getting the most value from them



  • Evolving role of the Board Chair or Executive Chair in a disruptive environment, including lessons from a Chairman’s first-hand experience
  • Effective board agendas, and what good board meetings accomplish
  • Evaluation of the board



  • Over the course of the program, each team develops an action plan for their family enterprise’s board(s)
  • Each individual develops an action plan for his/her own professional development as a board member
  • Action plans are designed with tailored guidance from the faculty to address each board’s goals and challenges

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Program Chair: Professor Philippe Haspeslagh

Program Chair: Professor Philippe Haspeslagh

Professor and Honorary Dean Vlerick Business School

Professor Philippe Haspeslagh is Honorary Dean and Professor at the Vlerick Business School, a Belgian business school with campuses in Brussels, Gent, Leuven, Saint Petersburg and Beijing. He led the school from 2008- 2015. Until 2008 he was the Paul Desmarais Chaired Professor of Active Ownership at INSEAD where he started the International Directors Forum and directed the Advanced Management Programme.

Professor John A. Davis

Professor John A. Davis

Founder and Chairman, Cambridge Institute for Family Enterprise

For over thirty years, Dr. John A. Davis has served as an academic, advisor, writer and speaker in the family enterprise field. He is a global authority on family enterprise, family wealth, leadership and succession. He is Founder and Chairman of the Cambridge Institute for Family Enterprise, and Chair of the Families in Business program at Harvard Business School, where he has been on the faculty since 1997. He is the author of Enduring Advantage: Collected Essays on Family Enterprise, Next Generation Success and Generation to Generation: Life Cycles of the Family Business, a preeminent work in the family enterprise field.

Eduardo Gentil

Eduardo Gentil

Fellow, Cambridge Institute for Family Enterprise

Eduardo Gentil is a Senior Advisor and Partner at Cambridge Advisors to Family Enterprise where he advises business families on issues related to succession, boards of directors, family and ownership governance, financial planning, and ownership strategies. Since 2000, he has led the Brazil practice of Cambridge Advisors, and has worked globally with multigenerational families. He is a Fellow at Cambridge Institute for Family Enterprise where he teaches and facilitates in family business programs around the world, including at the Families in Business program at Harvard Business School.

Andrew Hier

Andrew Hier

Fellow, Cambridge Institute for Family Enterprise

Andrew Hier is a Senior Advisor and Partner at Cambridge Advisors to Family Enterprise where he advises business families globally on issues related to shareholder relationships, ownership strategies, succession and next generation issues, and governance of the family, owners and business. He is a Fellow at Cambridge Institute for Family Enterprise where he teaches and facilitates in family business programs around the world, including at the Families in Business program at Harvard Business School. An attorney, he is co-author of the forthcoming book, Understanding the Power of Ownership. He is active in the Family Firm Institute, the premiere association of advisors serving families, where he co-chaired the 2014 Global Conference.

Dr. Pascale Michaud

Dr. Pascale Michaud

Fellow, Cambridge Institute for Family Enterprise

Pascale Michaud is an advisor to family enterprises throughout the world on strategies and governance models for their successful continuity. She advises multigenerational family enterprises on issues of corporate growth, business strategy and governance, innovation management, digital preparedness, leadership transitions, next generation development, family governance, and family and corporate philanthropy.

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The Colonnade Hotel

The Colonnade Hotel 120 Huntington Avenue Boston, MA phone: (617) 424-7000 Centrally located and exquisitely appointed, The Colonnade Hotel in Boston's iconic Back Bay neighborhood is the contemporary luxury hotel of choice for the modern traveler. Nestled at the intersection of a quaint residential community and Boston’s main shopping districts in Copley Square and Newbury Street, our Back Bay address offers prime access to the Boston Symphony, Hynes Convention Center, Northeastern University and nearby transit, allowing you to get out and explore the best of Boston.