Editor's note: Partner Profiles is a new feature of our blog. Over time, NH SBDC will publish Q&As with our partners across New Hampshire.
Hi Michelline, tell us about the Center for Family Enterprise and CEO Excellence (the Center). What is your mission – your reason for being?
The Center was started over 25 years ago as a way to create a place where family business owners and operators could come together to connect, learn and discover resources geared toward the particular and unique challenges of running a family business.
How does the Center help businesses in New Hampshire through the Center for Family Enterprise?
We provide monthly programs with subject matter experts who can address the challenges businesses face. Topics range from business growth strategies to human resources to succession planning, all wrapped around the particular nuances of family businesses. Our substantive programs offer plenty of opportunity for engagement and learning. Above all, we provide a place where family business owners can enter the room and are instantly surrounded by others just like themselves; sometimes the most valuable thing is realizing that they are not alone. To encourage connections amongst family business owners, we make available a great deal of peer to peer learning and sharing opportunities.
Our philosophy is that if a particular family business is going through something, it’s certain that someone else in the group has gone through it as well. There’s a real powerful thing that happens when an owner realizes that there are others who have come through similar things, especially when they come out the other side stronger than ever.
The Center also has a program called The CEO Forum. Who benefits from that program and how does it work?
The Center has expanded its offerings and different membership options through the years based on marketplace needs and interests.
For a number of years we have held The CEO Forum which is a monthly speaker series open to all owners and C-level professionals, both family business and public companies. We invite highly successful (and highly visible) leaders to share their personal paths and professional stories to a roomful of peers after a networking breakfast.
We also manage Peer Groups in which business owners and c-level managers (family and non-family businesses alike) come together in confidential, non-competitive groups for monthly meetings discussions to solve complex business problems that they all face at one time or another. Topical speakers are brought in at the request of the group, and each member takes turns hosting and sharing their own case studies. The groups are an informal setting in which members can learn from each other, and through time as trust grows, become each other’s informal advisory board.
What is the cost of your program to businesses?
All of our programs are based on annual memberships. The Center for Family Enterprise is $1,250 annually and open to as many family members that the business cares to bring in. The CEO Forum is $795 a year for two seats per program and the CEO Peer Circles are $2,495 or $2,995 a year, depending on the size of the participating company.
What is your connection with the Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics and with the NH SBDC?
Although we are an independently operating entity, we are housed at and affiliated with Paul College. The affiliation allows us access to a great deal of resources, including stellar Paul College faculty. We also can play an important and key role as the college dedicates itself more and more to engagement with the business community. For instance, we invited in some of our participating companies to have an exclusive networking night with Paul College juniors and seniors which was very well received.
Our partnership with the NH SBDC only deepens the ways that we can connect with small and mid-size businesses. Often times when a business owner comes to us with fundamental questions or nuanced issues, we will refer them to one of the appropriate business advisors. We find that this resource greatly enhances what we can offer.
As director of the program, tell us a bit about yourself and your role as director of the Center.
Although I came from a family that ran a sizable and successful business during my grandfather’s generation, I came to this role through my work as a trade association executive. Having that personal perspective stays with me in all that we do. This organization has been delivering quality, substantive programs for decades. I still hear from people whom I meet that the organization helped them at a critical time. I believe that it is our duty to continue making that sort of remarkable difference, and to also expand our offerings and our reach in finding ways to help all of our members achieve growth and success.
Thank you for telling us more about the Center for Family Enterprise and CEO Excellence, Michelline. We at NH SBDC look forward to continuing to partner with you to help NH businesses.