Margaret-Jean Mannix explains the value of truly understanding the how the business runs, and the sense of responsibility it instills.
My advice to the current family business owners and how they can engage and encourage the next generation relates to experience, opportunity and true, meaningful challenge. I remember when I first started working for my family’s group of companies, and one of my first jobs was as a heavy equipment operator, coal mining. I was actually the first female heavy equipment operator in the largest coal mine in Canada, it was me and 400 men, and it was wonderful, it was a wonderful opportunity for me to really understand one of the kind of axioms in our family is ‘our money’s made at the end of the shovel’, and to truly understand the business you do need to understand where the money is made, how it’s made, what it takes in order to generate income and what expenses there are around that. But it was when I was working alongside other families who had fourth generations also working in the coal mine that I realized how impactful our family business was on society and on 2500 other families and that for me instilled a sense of responsibility to those other families, for their livelihood, for the people who depended on them for their success and income and livelihood and I think understanding how much bigger the businesses were than just me really helped me step into a stewardship and understanding, a stewardship role and the understanding of what it takes and the understanding and appreciation of the responsibility of providing for others.