Mentorship succession
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By Marina Vaughan Spitzy, founder of legacy planning firm, Tecolote Advisory, and fifth-generation family business leader

In the dynamic world of family business and wealth ownership, women often face challenges rooted in historical norms and enduring biases. Despite these hurdles, the experiences of 11 remarkable women offer a ray of hope. Ramia El Agamy, Meghan Juday and I had the pleasure of interviewing them for the Women in Power study, where the significance of mentors and peer networks became evident.

Creating a Supportive Circle

In the words of one participant, “It’s more like a support circle – the little whispers of ‘keep going.’” This sentiment captures the essence of the positive psychology at play when women support each other in roles traditionally dominated by men. The camaraderie and encouragement found in mentorship and peer groups not only contribute to professional success but also enhance personal fulfilment in these roles.

Overcoming Barriers: The Women’s Initiative

The study revealed that eight out of 11 women took proactive steps to create their mentorship and peer groups, acknowledging the lack of established networks for women in family businesses and wealth ownership. Their determination to see more women thrive led to the formation of both formal and informal networks. The groups range from industry-focused and financial education platforms to philanthropic communities. An example is the Lodis Forum, an initiative started by Meghan Juday, the Chairman of the Board of IDEAL Industries. The Lodis Forum is a peer group exclusively for women who are Board Chairs, Vice-Chairs, Lead Directors, or Committee Chairs, and focuses on governance excellence, peer exchange, research, and advocacy. This grassroots approach not only fosters professional growth but also addresses the isolation that many women in ownership and leadership experience.

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The Transformative Power of Mentoring

“My mother was really determined to see me be elevated in the company,” expressed one participant, shedding light on the crucial role of family support in breaking down barriers. The study highlights that mentors, whether family members or external figures, significantly contribute to strengthening women’s voices and facilitating their personal and professional growth. The reciprocity of mentorship, evidenced by the commitment to giving back, further exemplifies the positive cycle generated by support networks.

Paying it Forward

The women in the study emphasised the importance of collaboration, with one noting, “There is this element of female energy that is really about collaboration and opening conversations.” Such collaborative energy extends beyond personal success, encouraging a mindset of continuous learning through connecting with and including others.

“Don’t do it alone” echoes as a resounding piece of advice, underlining the study’s core message: Thriving in family business and wealth ownership requires a collective effort.

Building a Multi-Layered Support System

To truly flourish, women in these roles require support at various levels – from friends, mentors, and educators. This may even include ‘tough love’ at times. Recognising the diversity of these needs, the study suggests that women should actively seek out individuals who not only motivate and guide them but also challenge them to grow.

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A Call to Action

The Women in Power study emphasises that networks aren’t solely about personal success; they’re about shortening the path for others. Sharing stories about what works and what doesn’t can make the journey to success easier for other women. As one participant wisely stated, “Keep growing and keep bringing people along with you.”

One of the peer networks pays it forward by actively creating opportunities for women to gain leadership experience within the peer network, so that “when their time comes, they are ready. If they want to ask for a raise or talk about a promotion, they have leadership experience that they can put on their resume, whether it’s chair of the organisation or chair of a committee …the point is giving other women leadership opportunities.”

In conclusion, the Women in Power study paints a compelling picture of women reshaping the landscape of family business and wealth ownership through mentoring and peer networks. By acknowledging the unique challenges faced by women in these roles and actively working to address them, we contribute to a more diverse, inclusive, and thriving business and wealth ownership ecosystem.


More from the Women in Power project:

Meghan Juday and Marina Vaughan Spitzy: How Women in Power Balance Bias with Opportunity

Empowering Women in Family Enterprises: Breaking the Succession Planning Barrier