Building on a foundation of value
Rick Baker has just started a two-year term as President of the Centre for Family Business, and he has some clear, strategic goals in mind as he begins his second two-year stint in that volunteer position. His primary goal is to offer more support services to CFFB members, but he sees that as a three-step process.
“We want to expand our membership, but we want to do it by providing value… that attracts people.”
He says the CFFB needs to be continually increasing the value of services provided to members; that this increased value will be a primary recruitment tool attracting more members; and that more members – and thus more revenue – will enable the not for profit organization to expand the programs and services it delivers. Make those so, and then repeat!
As Baker says, “We want to expand our membership, but we want to do it by providing value… that attracts people.”
Baker says that the CFFB is not starting from scratch – some major steps have already been taken, including the rewriting of the organization’s bylaws, four years ago, which expanded the understand of what constitutes a family business, and makes membership more “inclusive”.
In the past year, says Baker, a major initiative made an immediate impact – the introduction of an annual “signature event,” for which the CFFB “brings in a high-calibre speaker from outside the community.” The inaugural signature event, held in April, 2019, featured keynote speaker Dirk Schlimm, author of “Influencing Powerful People,” and a faculty member of the ICD/Rotman (University of Toronto) Directors Education Program.
CFFB breakfast events usually attract about 100 people; this signature event, also held as a breakfast, drew 236, which Baker says is “a record for attendance at any event in the 22-year history” of the CFFB.
The organization is also putting extra effort into its annual Gala, at which milestones in company longevity and leadership awards are presented, this year to the backdrop of a 1950’s themed party.
Overall, says Baker, the Centre exists “to support, educate and energize family business people,” and in a recent address to his board, Baker outlined some objectives that he believes will help to strengthen and grow the organization. He wants the CFFB to boost the profile of family businesses in the community; to provide top quality events that support the aims of the CFFB; to communicate with CFFB members to be sure they are receiving the value they want and need; to extend the services and resources of the CFFB “to all family businesses in our community”; and “to test all of our decisions against the pillars of our mission – to support, educate and energize family businesses.”
Baker says that the major events for the next year are already planned, with final details to be arranged about the signature event. As well, he says, the CFFB is “creating workshops that complement the major events.” More innovations are in the offing, as the CFFB has just launched a search for a new Executive Director.
One of the long-time success stories of the CFFB is the round table program, which brings together small groups of family business people in a networking and mentoring relationship. Baker says there are more round tables than ever in the organization’s history… and he hopes that still more will be formed.
Baker is hoping to bring more educational opportunities to the membership. “We want to ensure that family businesses have the opportunity to obtain user-friendly education on issues like governance and risk management.”
“We want to ensure that family businesses have the opportunity to obtain user-friendly education on issues like governance and risk management.”
Succession planning is always one of the top issues for family businesses, and that applies to the CFFB, as well. Baker, who also served as president in 2013-2015, is committed to bringing the next generation into the organization, and is pleased that the new vice president is from that newer generation – Michelle Tupman, vice president of Great Canadian Holidays.
Tupman’s election, says Baker, presents “an opportunity to connect in better ways with another generation.”
“Connect” is an important word for Baker, in his role at CFFB. He wants to connect with the members, to be sure they are getting the value they want in their organization; he wants to connect the generations; he wants to connect with family businesses who are not currently part of CFFB; and he wants to connect with the community at large, raising the profile of the organization and making an ever-increasing impact on that community.
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