Transitions Conferences: Bringing the magazine to life

The educational and networking events, centered on family-to-family sharing, have created a powerful community.

In 2010, Family Business developed the concept of a conference series that would build on the ethos of the magazine: events bringing business families together to share the strategies that worked for them—and those that didn't.

Transitions' unique emphasis is on families sharing their real-world family stories with other business families. Family business or enterprise stakeholders are the core speakers in the conference's keynote addresses and panel discussions. Consultants who participate in the sessions do so as facilitators of a dialogue between panelists and attendees, not as lecturers. Family speakers at Transitions generously share their successes and failures so others can learn from their experiences.

Transitions draws attendees from family companies of all sizes and generational stages. Many family relationship issues are common to all, regardless of the annual revenues of the enterprise.

The conferences have fostered deep engagement between and within families who attend. A strong "Transitions alumni" network has developed, and repeat attendees look forward to seeing each other at the next conference. Participants have learned a common vocabulary and are able to draw on it when discussing family issues.

Transitions enables attendees to have meaningful conversations with other business family members and discover that they are not the only ones confronting challenges at the interface of family and business. The conference maintains an atmosphere of strict confidentiality so families can truly share and learn; the magazine does not report details of the program content. The conference adheres firmly to a "no-selling" environment.

To help give attendees the opportunity to meet and work with as many different people as possible, seating is assigned for various sessions during the conference. During some sessions, family groups sit together; during other sessions, family members are separated so everyone gets a chance to network and mingle. Breakout sessions and special-interest group discussions enable Transitions participants to air concerns and work through solutions with others in similar circumstances. The conference also offers opportunities for attendees to have one-to-one discussions with peers, matched by Transitions staff based on shared interests.

For large family groups who wish to get together privately before or after the conference, the Transitions team can arrange facilitated family meetings. Facilitators have seen powerful connections arise—and real family governance progress made—at these meetings.

New conference offerings

Since 2013, Family Business has teamed up with our sister publication, Directors & Boards, to present the Private Company Governance Summit (PCGS), an annual conference bringing together owners and directors of family and other privately held businesses for high-level discussions on governance best practices. A new publication, Private Company Director (, was launched this year to focus specifically on the governance of closely held, family-owned and private equity-owned companies.

In 2015, the Family Business conference team will be taking family business learning to a new level. A new in-depth program will be introduced for those who have attended the Transitions conference. This new program will offer three tracks of educational sessions—designed for CEOs/board chairs, family council leaders and members, and next-generation members—facilitated by top academics and leading family business consultants. Working in small groups, participants will complete a personalized program and will be exposed to a broad range of family business challenges.

Copyright 2014 by Family Business Magazine. This article may not be posted online or reproduced in any form, including photocopy, without permission from the publisher. For reprint information, contact

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September/October 2014


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