Olivier de Richoufftz, FBN's new executive director, answers a few questions
What is your personal interest in family business?
The conjunction of what I consider to be the two core values for the 21st century. The family is the place where the right attitudes and behaviours are instilled, where respect should prevail, where concern for the 3Ps (people, planet, profit) can be shared between responsible human beings, and where the best balance between generations can be developed. And the business, which is the cement of our society and which creates value and employment. To me, if family businesses do business differently, it is because their notion of time is different: patrimony, longevity and responsibility are the values they have in common – and which I share.
Tell us a little about yourself. Where do you come from?
I come from an old European aristocratic family. I feel very European, and thank Europe for having allowed us to survive for over 20 generations.
What is your background?
I studied tourism initially and subsequently graduated in international marketing and sales at the Paris School of Commerce. I also hold an executive MBA from HEC in Paris. I spent over 15 years in the service industry, initially in tourism, working for a family-owned firm France Tourisme. I opened branch offices and developed the business into the US, then moved to the Disney group to take up the position of sales director for the Euro Disney project. Subsequently I headed the Conventions and Visitors bureau at Nice on the French Riviera. More recently I was the general manager of the Alsace tourist board based in Strasbourg, the European capital.
What do you believe in?
I do have a few convictions, one of which is that the future of business must be based on the triple bottom line approach. I also think that duration must prevail over short-term views and strategies.
What is your approach to leading when the pressure is on?
Pressure is stimulating to me. Preparing for major changes, crisis management should be an ongoing process.
What kind of manager are you?
Proactive, communicating, team player, and results oriented.
What drives you?
Project management of all sorts, cultural differences, sharing with others, integrity, balance, intelligent community of interests.
What do you think you will bring to FBN?
The conceptualisation of a vision, the exploration of a new approach. Experience in building strong perceived value. Creating partnership value within the network beyond experience in dealing with multiple stakeholders in complex situations. International development.
What is, in your opinion, the biggest challenge you will encounter in your new position?
The biggest challenge will be to apply an entrepreneurial approach to a non-profit association, to show that by the good understanding of the concerns of families and stakeholders we can create value – and not only for the business community but for families and partners.
What are your first impressions after attending the conference in Copenhagen?
I met some 'real' people who have strong expectations vis-à-vis the network, and who deserve to be listened to carefully and have their views taken into consideration. I'm convinced that it is the sum of the stakeholders' experiences which will build an even stronger network.
I was impressed by the quality of the organisation, the academic programme, the creativity of the next generation, the support of our patrons. All the ingredients are there to make FBN the reference point for the family business community worldwide.
Where will you be based?
I'll shortly relocate from France to Switzerland, and I'll be based at the FBN headquarters in Lausanne.
What are your first planned activities?
Tour the European Chapters, meet the stakeholders. Build on the strategic plan prepared by the steering group. Envision further international development. Prepare the annual convention. Listen to all parties and understand what their expectations are with regard to the services rendered by the network. Work out how we can enhance the value of the network for all its members.
Is travelling on your agenda?
Yes, I've always travelled. I lived in Australia as a kid and I've been to Asia on business several times. I spent five years working between Europe and North and South America, but I consider Europe as my hometown. Also, nothing can replace a meeting to understand each others' position and integrate cultural differences.
Do you have time for any extracurricular activities and hobbies?
My family is one of my hobbies, and I try to dedicate as much time as I can to them. I am involved in a few NGO's regarding childhood and education. And I love to row and to hike, and for this, I'm sure you'll agree, there is no better place than Switzerland!