An Interview with Dania Besher
What is your role in the Family Business?
I am an Architect by profession and have always worked as a freelance Architect. This gave me the chance to take on many projects for the family.
Since 2010, I have also been very focused on the Governance process for the family. I am also a member of the Family Council as well as the Education Committee. Governance for the business and for the family has been an ongoing discussion in my family since the mid 90’s but nothing concrete ever came from it. As the family grew in numbers (today: 77 blood members and 29 spouses) and the new generations were ready to get involved in the business, it became evident that a Governance system was becoming more and more important.
In the process of structuring your Family Governance, what do you think was the hardest task?
I don’t really remember how I became the leader in this endeavor but I accepted the challenge!
After having promised our chairman of the family business group, my uncle, that I will get it done, and with the continuous support of my father, I was able to overcome all frustrations and obstacles that faced me. It was not always easy getting all the cousins to even answer emails, let alone to attend the meetings, but eventually they all did! We were never involved in matters like that, and it was difficult to convince them that this is their project, and that it will be their children that will eventually benefit from this.
This has been a learning experience for everyone, all generations. And it has taught us that we, as a family, need to communicate more and be more open about problems as well as share success. The cousin generation is actually quite close and we have fun together. As children we spent holidays together and created these memories that keep us close today. We are not worried about ourselves, but as the family grows, what about the next generations?
As a woman, do you think it was easier for you to acknowledge issues and find help in structuring the Family Governance?
We have had great consultants helping us structure the Family Constitution, and all the other institutions we have now in place, like the Family Council and the Education Committee. We were very lucky that I always met the right people at the right time, who could help us at the respective stage we were in.
I am not so sure that by just being a woman I have had the success in leading the Governance process, but by trying to keep a close relationship with both my uncles and my cousins.
You could say that I was the link between the generations and I am blessed to have their love and respect.
“Maybe as women we have more sensitivity and insight towards individual characters and are more understanding the problems,” said Dania. “We are more willing to compromise and we like harmony and unity in the family.”
I think that it helped that I am not involved in the Family Business. I am no one’s boss and have no power struggles with my cousins.
My father once named me the “Chief Emotional Officer”- I have very big shoes to fill and I hope that I can always live up to that expectation and do my share in keeping the family unity!