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Daughters take helm in family-run businesses

Updated: 2014-08-25 07:16
By Krishna Kumar Vr in New Delhi (China Daily)

Daughters take helm in family-run businesses

Kelly Zong, president, Hangzhou Wahaha Group. [Photo/Xinhua]

Generational shift sees more Asian women holding visible, key leadership positions

At a very young age, Wendy Yap Sui Cheng, chief executive officer of Nippon Indosari Corpindo, a family-run bread and cake maker listed on the Indonesia Stock Exchange, was designated by her father, Piet Yap, to succeed him.

Though he had a son to take over the family business, Piet Yap believed it was about handing over the reins to the child who best understood his vision.

Similarly, Chew Gek Khim, executive chairperson of The Straits Trading Company - one of the oldest publicly listed companies in Singapore - was chosen by her grandfather, late banker Tan Chin Tuan, the founder of Straits Trading's parent company Tecity Group, to build on the family's corporate legacy.

Decades ago, choosing a woman to lead the family conglomerate was a rare act. Daughters were often viewed as temporary employees in the business - until they married or had children - so were not given the same encouragement and opportunities for development as their brothers.

However, family firms in Asia are today changing the boardroom structure by giving women a visible leadership role.

According to a study by National University of Singapore Business School, in partnership with Family Business Network Asia, 42 percent of family firms had one or more women serving as directors.

"Family firms seem to fare better when it comes to opportunities for women. Our research showed that gender diversity in the boardrooms is greater than on non-family firm boards," says Marleen Dieleman, associate director at the Centre for Governance, Institutions and Organizations, National University of Singapore Business School.

"With companies growing larger and families becoming smaller, successful business families are increasingly utilizing all available family talent in the business, which gives women more opportunities to lead," she says.

Evidence bears this out.

Yang Guoqiang, the founder of Chinese property giant Country Garden, trained his daughter Yang Huiyan by bringing her to board meetings when she was still in middle school. She is currently vice-president of the company.

Kelly Zong, daughter of beverage king Zong Qinghou, of Zhejiang-based Hangzhou Wahaha Group, joined the family business after graduating.

Third-generation family member Winnie Chiu, president and executive director of Hong Kong-based Dorsett Hospitality International, is now ready to run her father David Chiu's hotel and property empire. The $250 million outfit includes stakes in Far East Consortium, Dorsett and Malaysia Land Properties.

It is widely reported that Chu Kut Yung, deputy chairman and executive vice-president of Hopson Development Holdings, is being groomed as a possible successor to her father, Chu Mang Yee, chairman of the Hong Kong-listed property developer.

For many years already, Pan Wei, president of Jilin Wantong Pharmacy Group, has been working with her father, Pan Shoude, chairman of the $600 million conglomerate based in northeastern China that employs 8,000 people.

Daughters take helm in family-run businesses

Daughters take helm in family-run businesses

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