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CEL graduates first class of family business leaders

Arjang Assad and Mary Nicoletti unveil plaque

At the graduation ceremony, Dean Arjang Assad and Mary Nicoletti, senior program coordinator for the CEL, unveiled a plaque honoring the inaugural members of the CEL Family Business Association. Photo: Nancy J. Parisi

By MATTHEW BIDDLE

Published July 17, 2014

“The family businesses that participated in this year’s program are walking away with practical tools, clarity, strategic vision and a community of support to assist them in preparing for transitions from one generation of leadership to the next.”
Thomas Ulbrich, executive director
Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership

Dozens of local entrepreneurs and professionals are now better prepared to tackle the unique challenges of running a family business after completing the first-ever “Growing a Healthy Family Business” course, part of a new initiative that launched this year in the School of Management’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (CEL).

Forty-five representatives from 14 family businesses finished the course and were honored at a joint graduation ceremony for four CEL programs last month in the Center for the Arts.

“Growing a Healthy Family Business” is a 10-session course that meets twice a month over five months. It empowers family members to come together to identify and apply solutions to help their businesses thrive for generations to come. Developed collaboratively with family business experts of diverse disciplines, seasoned entrepreneurs and thought leaders in the School of Management, the course delivers practical solutions on topics relevant to family businesses, including communication, interpersonal relationships, conflict resolution, strategic planning, and succession and next-generation leadership planning.

“The family businesses that participated in this year’s program are walking away with practical tools, clarity, strategic vision and a community of support to assist them in preparing for transitions from one generation of leadership to the next,” says Thomas Ulbrich, executive director of the CEL. “As these family businesses make smooth and successful transitions, they are able to continue their legacy, create jobs and continue to be a meaningful contributor to the Western New York economy.”

The course is available exclusively to members of the CEL Family Business Association, a new initiative launched in February to support the unique challenges associated with family businesses while also addressing the traditional needs of any entrepreneur. Association members receive complimentary registration to quarterly networking events and semiannual workshops with expert speakers, discounted registration for professional development opportunities and, beginning in January 2015, access to professionally facilitated peer-support groups.

“Our mission is to support the power of entrepreneurship to launch human potential, inspire innovation, produce jobs and generate wealth through interactive education in entrepreneurship,” Ulbrich says. “The Family Business Association and the ‘Growing a Healthy Family Business’ course bring together the dynamic regional family business community and provide specialized support so they can continue to thrive from one generation of entrepreneurs to the next.”