Example of a Family Member Who Trained Herself for the Shareholder Role

Charlene de Carvalho, Board Member, Heineken
Inspiring Example of a Family Member Who Trained Herself for the Shareholder Role

An inspiring example of a 4th generation family member who inherited control of her family business, with no previous experience, is Charlene de Carvalho, 4th generation member of the board of Heineken, one of the world’s largest brewers.

At age 47, this mother of five children with no business education, inherited control of Heineken upon her father’s death. Her father, Freddy Heineken, had been an iconic visionary and builder of the company. Ms. de Carvalho reflects publicly about her father: “My father was a very original character … a multi-faceted man … well known for thinking outside of the box … and he was the right man for that era.”

She and her husband, Michel de Carvalho, further reflect on the decision to become active owners: “The day that Freddy passed away, we had to make a decision. There were two options: One was taking over from Freddy Heineken the controlling shareholder role that he had played¬–but with no training, and not having run the company for 50 years as he had done. Or we keep living a nice quiet life with our children. It took Charlene a nanosecond to say we are going for the former. In that case, we needed to put a game plan together, very quickly.”

Ms. de Carvalho reflects on her need for shareholder training: “I knew I needed to learn a lot. The more you learn, the more confident you get.”

Her husband, Mr. de Carvalho, describes the journey: “There were certainly question marks, ranging to serious doubts, that the two of us would be able to step into some very very big shoes. That was to underestimate Charlene. The last 12 years have taken away most of the doubters. Charlene has overseen the biggest acquisitions in Heineken’s history, and all of them in the last ten years.”

Ms. De Carvalho on her duty as a shareholder: “We have over 250 brands available in almost every country. I have been blessed with this responsibility. It is a responsibility, but nevertheless something very special, not given to many, so it is dear to my heart to see the company do well.”

This information is based on a December 2014 interview with Fortune.
Photo credit: Michel de Carvalho with Charlene at Heineken headquarters Photo By: Sander Stoepker—Fotograaf

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