Will your legacy hold you back or drive you forward? Will your legacy hold you back or drive you forward?

By Lauri Oinaala

EY Global Next Generation Leader

Advisor for next generation leaders and family business professionals. Passionate about governance and education. Supporter of diversity and one global world.

9 minute read 20 May 2020

Seven next generation entrepreneurs – and global members of our EY NextGen Network – examine how boundless potential can lead to success.

A family legacy offers a powerful opportunity to break the mold and create a new future. But knowing how to take full advantage of such an opportunity can be difficult. At the EY NextGen Academy, we help to unlock potential to pursue passion with confidence.

Seven next generation entrepreneurs – and global members of our EY NextGen Network – have embraced strategies to look for new solutions and possibilities.

Some have grown up in the family business and others have started their own, but each of these young leaders has a bold sense of purpose that drives them to do things differently and transform our world by standing out from the crowd and following their own passion. This truly makes them mold-breakers.

We are proud to feature their amazing stories.

I try to identify what’s happening around the world, recognize global trends and adapt them to the local business environment I’m working in.
Githanji Kaluperuma
Sri Lanka

“Trendsetter. Forward-thinker. Innovator.” Those are the traits that Githanji Kaluperuma strives to exemplify as an Executive Director at Stafford Motor Co., one of the oldest Honda distributors in the world. Established by Githanji’s grandfather Felix de Zoysa, founder of the Stafford group of companies, Stafford Motor Co. is known for bringing affordable transportation to Sri Lankans.

“I try to identify what’s happening around the world, recognize global trends and adapt them to the local business environment I’m working in,” Githanji says. “Our corporate culture is slow-paced and not as innovative as it should be, so personally, I look for ways we can adopt new ways of thinking.”

As Githanji looks for new approaches, she often turns to the people she considers mold-breakers — people who have overcome adversity to make a positive impact. “They find opportunities in the problems that people face,” she says. “They embrace challenges.”

This drive to make a difference is essential to all companies, including family enterprises. Businesses are in a critical time, and innovation is key. But to truly be ready for tomorrow’s world, Githanji says that companies need to balance their values with innovation.

Githanji says the EY NextGen Academy’s “week-long, intense experience” is an ideal way to be exposed to new and different ways of doing business and become a better leader. Attendees get to learn from their family business peers in a wide range of industries and come away inspired.

“When we share stories, we find that we all go through similar experiences,” she says. “It’s comforting to know, and you walk away with so much.”

When you get to interact with people from all over the world, all of a sudden the world seems very small.
Brett Franklin
United States

Brett Franklin has been an entrepreneur since middle school, when his father and grandfather helped him to establish Artisan Laundromats. The company services laundry machines at several multifamily properties owned by Franklin Companies, a fully integrated housing provider that Brett’s father, Aubra Franklin, founded.

Brett recently joined the wider family business as a development associate, trying to learn as much as he can while drawing on his experiences at the EY NextGen Academy. “When your family has a business, you’re in a very unique situation. You think more about long-term continuity,” Brett says. “That has real potential to bring the family together and find ways to impact the community and add value to the world at large.”

This drive to make a difference informs how Brett looks to “change the paradigm” — what he says is essential for those looking to transform the world. “I think if you can ask ‘Why?’ about everything you’re doing, then eventually you can see how the current structure might not be the best way to do things,” he says.

Brett adds that this form of self-reflection is a key strength of the NextGen Academy, crediting the program with supporting him to find his best path within the family business. “I feel like I can create change in the long term by being involved in my family business and being able to communicate that to my father,” he says.

Lessons like that put the future into perspective. “When you get to interact with people from all over the world, all of a sudden the world seems very small,” Brett says. “You’re able to think much more ‘big picture’ and bring that confidence back to what you’re doing.”

We have to have the innovation and courage to change for the better.
Tika and Nisa Mulya
Indonesia

As second-generation members of eLcorps, the Muslim fashion company founded by their mother, Tika and Nisa Mulya have their eyes on the future. “We have to keep updated on global trends and stay true to the company vision, but we have to have the innovation and courage to change for the better,” Nisa says.

Their mother, Elidawati Ali Oemar, has guided the company’s growth through a franchising partnership strategy — a business model that was new to the Islamic word. Her trailblazing spirit has made the sisters mindful of their family legacy’s impact.

“We create a big market, and we create so many jobs,” Tika says. “So many people rely on us, and that is why you have to be more thoughtful, because we have to be beneficial for others.”

Building on that legacy led the sisters to the EY NextGen Academy. “It is not easy to continue a family business,” Nisa says. “As the next generation, we have different challenges than the previous generation.” The NextGen Academy offered Tika and Nisa insights into how to navigate these challenges — from capitalizing on their experiences to improving lines of communication — and their fellow attendees shared perspectives from other businesses and other countries.

They are now applying those lessons within eLcorps as they work alongside their mother. For example, Tika is involved in a marketing project that will have great ramifications for the company and its brands.

“I’m changing the brand image, but I am also changing how the system works on the inside,” Tika says, noting that the fashion industry requires them to react more quickly. “We have to be more committed to what we do.”

It opens your mind. You get to know other people. You hear their stories.
Christian van Megen
Germany

A family legacy can open many doors, but that boundless potential can be paralyzing for some. “It is really easy to get pushed in a direction, lose control and go with the flow,” says Christian van Megen. “You just end up doing everything — or nothing — or something that you might not necessarily want.”

Not that Christian has had that problem. He currently selects and supports his family’s angel investments, manages the family’s construction projects and develops the occasional digital solution. “That is the great thing I can see from what we are doing now — I can see a lot of potential for me to get involved in different activities,” he says.

That potential has been heightened through Christian’s longtime involvement with the EY NextGen Academy. “It opens your mind,” he says. “You get to know other people. You hear their stories, and it really gives you a much better overview of what everyone else is doing and how you could go into those roles as a leader in the family business.”

Christian says the networking is well-complemented by the academic experience that emphasizes entrepreneurial leadership through case studies from leading business schools. “You basically get a handbook of methodologies and how they can be implemented,” he says.

Those methodologies have helped Christian build on his strengths, allowing him to take on roles in the businesses managed by the family office while also pursuing his own ventures. “A lot of the inspiration for what I’m doing now has come from the NextGen Academy,” he says. “We have made some good changes to our family office that really allow us to support our activities on a broader scale.”

I perceive my family’s legacy as a mountain or a rock to stand on with unconditional support.
Daniela Tejeda
Peru

There are ways to contribute to the family business without being part of the business, but it can take some time to find them. Daniela Tejeda studied journalism and the behavioral sciences before attending Le Cordon Bleu culinary and hospitality school. Today she is a culinary marketing account executive as well as a third-generation co-owner of the Tejeda Group.

Daniela believes in cultivating her passions for food, anthropology and history — “everything that explains human beings being human” — and has always had the support of her family in doing so. “I perceive my family’s legacy as a mountain or a rock to stand on with unconditional support,” she says.

But as co-owner of the family business, with origins dating back to the 1960s, Daniela wanted to learn more about the company. “I didn’t like the idea of not being informed,” she says. “I really would like to be involved, but I’m not necessarily the right person to be in management.”

Daniela’s pursuit of that education at the EY NextGen Academy opened her eyes to what could be possible. “It ignited a little flame in me because I became a little bit more ambitious and interested in the family business,” she says. Daniela was especially interested in family offices and family protocol because she considers herself a conduit between generations, using her abilities and social skills to hold everything together.

“Even though most of my family works in agriculture, exports and construction, they love the fact that I am a poet, a writer and in the culinary world,” Daniela says. “It is very important for the people that come after me and the new generations to follow their own paths and build from it.”

I’m incredibly lucky that there are people in my family that I can relate to in the entrepreneurial sense.
William Wolfram
Finland

Not every entrepreneurial family is in business together, and that can be a good thing. “We probably wouldn’t get along if we were all in the same business and everyone wanted to lead,” says William Wolfram. His father and sister each run their own business, and the family members often give each other advice.

“I’m incredibly lucky that there are people in my family that I can relate to in the entrepreneurial sense and that we support each other, both through success and setbacks,” he says. William is a serial entrepreneur who is the Chairman and CEO of Galton Voysey, a leading developer of direct-to-consumer brands. He previously founded DealDash and Total Trivia, and in 2013 he became the youngest person to win the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Finland Award.

William went on to compete at EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year in Monaco, where he met winners from more than 50 countries. “Meeting other entrepreneurs who are doing totally different things was extremely helpful,” he says. “I was able to pick everybody else’s brain and learn so much from everybody else.”

Networking at that level is instrumental to building a business, and it is a major component of every EY NextGen Network activity. “Seeing people connect with other people’s challenges and learn from each other is really valuable,” William says.

He also has some advice for next generation business leaders who are looking to transform the world: there’s more to business than mobile apps and cloud-based technology. “Look around in more traditional industries and ask, ‘How can we combine different disciplines to drive efficiency or drive customer experience?’”

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Summary

Continuing a family legacy is a weighty responsibility, but a select group of next generation entrepreneurs have leveraged the EY NextGen Academy to help nurture their family legacy while breaking the mold.

About this article

By Lauri Oinaala

EY Global Next Generation Leader

Advisor for next generation leaders and family business professionals. Passionate about governance and education. Supporter of diversity and one global world.