Love, Trust and Money – Emotional Values and Costs in Family Business

The last few days have been very busy for all of us.

We spent 2 days (Thursday, May 5th and Friday, May 6th) attending lectures at WHU Otto Beisheim School of Management.  The topics relating to family business gave us a fascinating window into the challenges and opportunities that arise out of family business succession.  We were very privileged to hear a very real case presented by Prof. Dr. Sabine Klein and her brother Mr. Hubertus Rau.  The Rau Case – Succession in a Family Business – is their family’s story and it clearly demonstrated how passing a family business from one generation to the next is a complicated and emotional process.

WHU

WHU

Katelyn & Katie-Lynn

Katelyn & Katie-Lynn

Prof. Dr. Sabine Klein and Nella

Prof. Dr. Sabine Klein and Nella

After the lectures were complete, all of the Europe Study Tour group piled into a fabulous old room on the WHU campus for a presentation and wine tasting from the Hans Wirsching family winery.  Andrea Ebert gave us an informative, animated and entertaining overview of her family’s winery and allowed us to enjoy tasting each one as she walked us through the history, process and passion of wine making.

Andrea Ebert presenting her family's wines - Hans Wirsching

Andrea Ebert presenting her family's wines - Hans Wirsching

Wine tasting

Wine tasting

Thai & Bartek

Thai & Bartek

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Great day? You can ‘bank’ on it….

Today, our study group ventured into Frankfurt, which is not only the financial centre of Germany but also the largest financial centre in continental Europe (impressive). In addition, it is home to the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, the German Federal Bank, and many large commercial banks.

Our Europe Study Tour group had the extremely privileged opportunity to visit one of the world’s most important central banks – the European Central Bank (ECB). The ECB is responsible for administrating the monetary policy on behalf of the 17 EU Euro Area member states.

ECB group shot

ECB group shot

We spent a large part of our day on the 36th floor at the ECB building and had the privilege of meeting with a number of ECB officials. First was Mr. Phillippe Rispal from the Press and Information Division. We gained valuable insight into the inner workings and functions of the ECB. Our second talk was with Mr. Thomas Westermann from the Euro Area Macroeconomic Developments Division. He presented information on the economic developments in the Euro area. We are very grateful for the time you took to answer all our questions today. And a huge THANK YOU to Ms. Iris Mayer for organizing our visit to the ECB – what a wonderful learning experience it was for all of us!

Thank you to Ms. Iris Mayer from Peter

Thank you to Ms. Iris Mayer from Peter

Peter presenting a thank you gift to Mr. Phillippe Rispal

Peter presenting a thank you gift to Mr. Phillippe Rispal

Mr. Thomas Westermann and Peter

Mr. Thomas Westermann and Peter

Getting ready for presentations

Getting ready for presentations

Hicki making monetary decisions

Hicki making monetary decisions

Before our drive back to Koblenz, we winded down the day with some free time to explore Frankfurt and enjoyed some sightseeing, shopping, and ……fabulous pretzels! Enjoy our snapshots of Frankfurt and stay tuned for more of our unfolding adventures.

We are spending the next two days at the WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management (or WHU Vallendar) which is a German business school. The blogging team will be back in a few days to give you an update of our wonderful trip.

Gute Nacht – Patricia, Thai, Anju and Sean

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The Merck Way

When you are reading this blog (provided you are using a flat screen), you are reading this through Merck’s liquid crystal technology.  If you are eating a gold shimmering ice-cream treat (called a Magnum Gold)  you are also experiencing The Merck Way.

Magnum Gold ice-cream with a gold coating made from Merck's pigmentation product

Magnum Gold ice-cream with a gold coating made from Merck's pigmentation product

From the Moon landing, makeup and makeup containers, soccer world cup balls and Audi paint to vitamin C, MS drugs and oncology drugs, research and development is done at the Merck Darmstadt facilities.

Sustain. Change. Grow. These three words published in Merck KGaA 2011 Corporate Responsibility Report sum up the focus of this dynamic family’s corporate strategy.

Magnum Gold moment with honourary U of A Europe Study tour member Tobias

Magnum Gold moment with honourary U of A Europe Study tour member Tobias

The Merck Way http://www.merck.de/en/company/merckway/the_merck_way.html brings to life the Merck Values:  courage, achievement, responsibility, respect, integrity and transparency.

Our gracious host, Ms. Gudrun Pressler-Rickert, facilitated our visit to the Merck location in Darmstadt, Germany.  We had a chance to have an overview of their product lines that include pharmaceuticals and chemicals.

Picture of the U of A Europe Study Tour group at Merck

Picture of the U of A Europe Study Tour group at Merck

For the chemical business line of Merck we had the opportunity to walk  through the manufacturing area for litmus rolls.

We transitioned to the other business unit of Merck’s focused on pharmaceutical innovation. We also had a chance to walk through the laboratory technicians utilized gas chromatographs to determine the  chemical composition of materials.

The team was very fortunate to attend a presentation and Q&A session with Dr. Jon Baumhauer who is the head of the family board of Merck. We were honoured to have the opportunity for discussing the family history, evolution and current Merck strategy with  Dr. Baumhauer.

A few quick facts:
1/3 of family business makes it to the second generation and 1/10 make it to the third generation – Merck is already in there 12th active generation (the 13th generation is up and coming) and have 133 active family partners in the business. The governance structure is established as the Merck family owning 100% interest in Merck KGaA.  The family maintains 70% ownership in Merck KGaA with 30% ownership by shareholders.

The Merck family is very interesting, it applies a very solid governance structure to not only their business but also to their family.  This governance structure really embodies the Merck principals of courage, achievement, responsibility, respect, integrity and transparency.

The staff that we met at Merck appeared to really love being a part of the Merck family business; in fact, our gracious hostess recently received a 25 year service award.

For the more technical students a draw was the Merck warehouse. 6 aisles wide and 19 storage ports high, this fully automated warehouse was like the machine k-nex toys that we played with, but on steroids.  Wait… Steroids aren’t enough for this technological marvel.  It was like a storage site worthy of Star Trek.  We were mezmerized….

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Au Revoir Strasbourg, Guten Tag Koblenz

Today, we toured the European Parliament.  We were in awe of the elaborate building and impressed by the various structures within. We learned that the design of the building is very deliberate in its incorporation of symbolisms throughout. For example, the top of the building is kept incomplete to show that there is always room for improvements in the European Parliament’s work. The Stairs of Honour, which is a double helix staircase, symbolizes life and order. After a brief stroll around the main areas, we were taken into the chamber itself. This is where all the political parties gather to discuss and make important decisions for the 27 countries that are a part of the European Parliament. Last but not least, we had the honor to meet Mr. Otmar Philipp, Direction Generale de la Communication. Thank you for talking to us and answering our questions.

After our fabulous tour, we left Strasbourg, France and headed to Koblenz, Germany. Guten Tag!! We will be spending the next 6 days here and are looking forward to more fabulous learning experiences. Stay tuned!

Gute Nacht – Patricia, Thai, Anju and Sean

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A day in Strasbourg

Our initial day in Europe was an amazing one.  Before getting into the meat of our itinerary we got to hang out in Strasbourg and see the sights.

NotreDame Front View

NotreDame Front View

Nella, Anju, and Harry toured the city on bikes

Nella, Anju, and Harry toured the city on bikes

In the morning we toured around the city, got breakfast and soaked in the the centuries old streets and canals of Strasbourg.  The highlight of the morning was the cathedral of Notre-Dame, a masterpiece of Gothic art.



After lunch we went for a tour boat ride around the old city. We saw many amazing sites including Petite-France, the European Parliament and the European Human Rights Courts.

European Parliament from the Ill

European Parliament from the Ill

European Court of Human Rights from the Ill

European Court of Human Rights from the Ill

Boat Tour of Strasbourg

Boat Tour of Strasbourg




Restaurant Pont St.Martin from the river Ill

Restaurant Pont St.Martin from the river Ill

Tarte Flambe with Salmon and Chives

Tarte Flambe with Salmon and Chives


For dinner we went to a restaurant that we had passed earlier on our river tour.  The restaurant was called the Pont St.Martin and it was situated right by the St. Martin bridge in old-city Strasbourg.  They specialized in Tarte-Flambe, which is a flat-bread with toppings and cheese baked in a wood-burning oven. We were told that this was like a pizza, but it was not a pizza.

Tomorrow we are going on a tour of the European Parliament and then travelling to Koblenz in Germany.  It should be another great day.

Bon nuit again and see you all in Germany.
From your blog travel guides – Patricia, Thai, Anju and Sean

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Students: 18, Travel time: 12, Time Zones: 8, Landing Safely in Germany: Priceless

The 2011 Europe Study Tour officially kicked off on Friday April 29, 2011. This year’s group is made up of a total of 18 BComm and MBA students and two professors,  Dr. Peter Jaskiewicz and Dr. Andrew Luchak, from the Alberta School of Business at the University of Alberta.  Embarking on this European Field Trip to study Family Business and Entrepreneurship will make us all part of a very unique group – explorers of European culture and business.

The 2011 U of A Europe Study Tour group

The 2011 U of A Europe Study Tour group

We arrived in Germany and our first stop was Heidelberg where we had lunch and explored the sites.  Above is the first group picture after our arrival – a good looking bunch aren’t we.  Lunch was wonderful, right Travis?

Travis ready for lunch at Kulturbrauerei in Heidelberg

Travis ready for lunch at Kulturbrauerei in Heidelberg

U of A team representing at Heidelberg Castle

U of A team representing at Heidelberg Castle

Heidelberg Castle

Heidelberg Castle

The lucky Heidelberg Bridge Monkey and Anju

The lucky Heidelberg Bridge Monkey and Anju

The sites we explored included the Heidelberg Castle as one of the highlights along with the Old Stone Bridge with it’s most famous resident – the Bridge Monkey.

 

After our short stop in Heidelberg, we hit the road again for our next destination – Strasbourg, France, where we will be located for the next couple of days.

Strasbourg is the official seat of the European Parliament, and is also the home of a number of European institutes including the Council of Europe, Eurocorps and the European Union.

The lobby of Hotel Ibis in Strasbourg, France

Katelyn and Harry in the lobby of Hotel Ibis in Strasbourg, France

After winding our way through the cobbled streets, a bunch of us struck upon a courtyard of fabulous french restaurants.  Despite the pouring rain we were definitely inspired to enjoy some fine french cuisine and wine!

La Table du Gayot in the rain.

La Table du Gayot in the rain.

Dessert!

Amirono Gelato Rainbow

Amirono Gelato Rainbow

Peter’s favourite gelato shop in Strasbourg.

Cheers to Gelato in Strasbourg

Cheers to Gelato in Strasbourg

Thanks for introducing us to a new addiction.

Cheers to a fun-packed day one! Bon nuit from your blog travel guides – Patricia, Thai, Anju and
Sean

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