Launched in 2016, the Brown Brothers Harriman Family Business Leadership Speaker Series at Columbia Business School welcomes global family business leaders to campus to share their unique perspectives and to interact with students and alumni. The series, supported with a gift from Brown Brothers Harriman, is open to students, alumni, scholars, and friends.

Upcoming Events

Jose Eduardo Siman '69
Chairman of the Board, Milady Associates

Date: Wednesday, June 7, 2023
Time: 6:00 - 8:00 pm ET
Location: Columbia Business School
Henry R. Kravis Hall, Room 690
665 West 130th Street
New York, NY 10027

Jose Eduardo Siman ’69 considers himself fortunate to have been born into a family business (Siman Department Stores) owned by a family with impressive entrepreneurial spirit, deep ethical and moral principles, and a belief in the vital importance of education to the success of future generations. In this fireside chat with Professor Gaia Marchisio, you will learn Jose's impressive story, from getting his MBA at CBS, working outside the family business, and becoming Chairman of the Board of a holding company for diversified family-owned businesses across retail, consumer finance, apparel manufacturing, franchisees to global brands, and real estate operating in 25+ countries across the Americas and the Caribbean.

Key Takeaways

  • How to scale up and globalize a local business
  • How to successfully transition across generations
  • What it takes to lead a board through strategic decisions 
  • And much more! 

A networking reception will follow. 


Past Events

Keeping It All Together: The Steel Warehouse Story

Steel Warehouse

Nathan Lerman
Vice President of Government Affairs & Corporate Development
Steel Warehouse

Monday, February 13, 2023 | Columbia Business School 

Founded in 1947, Steel Warehouse is a family-owned premier steel operator and service center with distribution, shipping, and processing capabilities providing slit coil, sheet, plate, and cold-rolling. Over the past 75 years and 3 generations, the family has grown to 500 members worldwide. In this engaging session, participants learned from Nathan Lerman, who serves as Vice President of Government Affairs & Corporate Development for Lerman Enterprises. In conversation with Professor Gaia Marchisio, Nathan walked through the history of the company, its evolution over time, his decision to join, and much more. 

Andrew Gundlach ’01 

Andrew Gundlach '01

Columbia Business School Board Member
Adjunct Associate Professor, Finance
Global Family Enterprise Program Advisory Board Chair
Heilbrunn Center Board Member
President/CEO, Bleichroeder LP
Director, First Eagle Holdings, Inc

Thursday, December 1, 2022 | Columbia Business School

An exclusive evening with Andrew Gundlach ’01, CBS Board Member, CEO/President of Bleichroeder LP, and Director, First Eagle Holdings, Inc. He discussed asset management for family offices, trends in the industry, and career opportunities for MBA students. This was an exclusive opportunity to hear from an industry leader who teaches the highly rated (application only) CBS Seminar in Wealth Management. An active member of the Global Family Enterprise Program Advisory Board, which he chairs, Mr. Gundlach shared valuable insights into the future of family enterprise. 


Transformation in Family Enterprise

Ashley Fina

Ashley Fina, former CEO & President of Michael C. Fina

June 15, 2022 |The Penn Club of New York


Ashley Fina, former CEO & President of Michael C. Fina Recognition and current coach, consultant, and advisor to start ups and family businesses shared how she transformed fine goods retailer Michael C. Fina Recognition's service business to B2B SaaS and exited this division. She shared her expertise on transformation, business strategy, and making crucial business decisions.

The discussion was moderated by Benjamin Persofsky, Senior Vice President, Executive Director of the BBH Center for Family Business with an introduction by Global Family Enterprise Program Advisory Board member Amy Binder '94, Co-Founder & CEO, RF|Binder Partners.

Leading from the Top: A Board Chair's Insights

Meghan Juday

Meghan Juday, Chairman of the Board at IDEAL Industries

March 3, 2022 | Hybrid 

Meghan Juday, Chair of the Board of IDEAL Industries and founder of The Lodis Forum, the first peer group of women board chairs, discussed how she ascended to the role of Chairman of the Board of IDEAL Industries, her family's 105-year-old business, at a pivotal time. This fourth-generation leader shared her expertise on governance excellence and what helps family businesses thrive.

The discussion was moderated by Professor Patricia Angus, Managing Director of the Global Family Enterprise Program.

400 Years of Luxury

Olivier Mellerio & Clemence Mellerio-Jacques

Olivier Mellerio ’72 & Clémence Mellerio-Jacques of Mellerio dits Meller 

October 25, 2021 | Hybrid

Father and daughter Olivier Mellerio ’72 and Clémence Mellerio-Jacques sat down with Professor Patricia Angus, Managing Director of the Global Family Enterprise Program to answer the question: How does a business last 400 years? Olivier and Clémence discussed their family's rich history in both France and Italy, the unique relationship between jeweler and client, and why they have remained "boutique" while other jewelry companies continue to expand.

This program was presented in hybrid format, allowing students to join from the classroom, while even more alumni, students, and friends joined virtually from around the world.

Dilhan C. Fernando

Dilhan C. Fernando

CEO, Dilmah Tea (Sri Lanka) 

June 8, 2021 | Virtual

Dilhan C. Fernando, CEO, Dilmah Tea (Sri Lanka), and JP Kuehlwein, Adjunct Professor, Columbia Business School, spoke to a group of students, alumni and friends in June via Zoom. He explained how sustainability and purpose were embedded from the start in his forward-thinking family enterprise. Dilhan credits his father’s emphasis on humility, kindness and faith as his guiding principles. This was a truly inspiring story that illustrates the positive power of family firms!

Stephen Puschel ’11 and Timur Yumusaklar ’11

Stephen Puschel '11 and Timur Yumusaklar '11

Owner and CEO/President (respectively), Schumacher & Co. 

January 21, 2021 | Virtual 

We had the pleasure of welcoming owner Stephen Puschel ’11 and CEO/President Timur Yumusaklar ’11 of F. Schumacher & Co., a fifth-generation interior design company. CBS classmates and friends, Stephen and Timur shared candid insights about the evolution of the 132-year-old company, their impressive turnaround story, and how to manage relationships within a family enterprise.

Three lucky guests—Leslie Kuo, Rohan Morbia, and Igor Vishnyakov—received copies of their latest book: S Is for Style: The Schumacher Book of Decoration by Dara Caponigro.

Richard Eu

Richard Eu

Chairman of the Eu Yan Sang International Ltd (EYSI) (Singapore)

October 26, 2020 | Virtual

Richard Eu joined us from Singapore to speak to the CBS Family Business Program about his Traditional Chinese Medicine retail chain Eu Yan Sang (230 stores in Asia and online), his approach to succession (5 generations of legacy), and how to successfully negotiate cross-cultural nuances across business and family.

With his children in the audience, Richard shared how Eu Yan Sang manages to balance the old and new, honoring its heritage while continuously evolving to make its products more accessible to the modern customer. He delved into how cultural influences passed down by his ancestors, including the Eu family poem inscribed with values to care for mankind and his family’s Western education (Richard’s uncle went to Columbia!), have had a big impact on subsequent generations. Finally, Richard expressed his love for playing music with his family, reminding us that business is only one portion of family!

Sajjad Ebrahim ’73

 Sajjad Ebrahim '73

Chairman and CEO, Lark Investments INC. (Canada)

June 17, 2020 | Virtual 

Corinne Mentzelopoulos

Corinne Mentzelopoulos

Château Margaux

November 6, 2019 | Columbia Business School


Cultivating the Future, Rooted in the Past: Antinori Wines

Alessia Antinori

Alessia Antinori, Marchesi Antinori 

June 20, 2019 | Faculty House


Making it Work: Two Careers, One Family, and a Lasting Legacy

Bram Bluestein ’71 & Ilene Gordon

Bram Bluestein ’71, Bluestein & Associates (Family Office) and Ilene Gordon, Ingredion Incorporated

April 4, 2019 | Columbia Business School 


Paul Sullivan

Paul Sullivan

NYT Columnist and Author

December 6, 2018 | Columbia Business School 

The Perfect Mix: Leading with Innovation and Inspiration

Jodi Berg

Jodi Berg, President and CEO, Vitamix

June 5, 2018 | Penn Club of New York 

Walter and Shirley Wang ’93

Walter & Shirley Wang '93

Shirley Wang ’93, CEO of Plastpro & Walter Wang, CEO & President of JM Eagle

April 12, 2018 | Columbia Business School 

Tim Belk

Tim Belk

Retired CEO and Chairman, Belk, Inc.

November 15, 2017 | Penn Club of New York 

Güler Sabancı

Guler Sabanci

Chairman of Sabancı Holding and Founding President of Sabancı University, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Sabancı Foundation and Chairman of the Sakıp Sabancı Museum

April 25, 2017 | Columbia Business School


More on Güler Sabancı

Jack Mitchell

Jack Mitchell

Chairman of Mitchells Stores, a three-generation family business that operates nationally-renowned retail specialty stores.

May 22, 2017 | Landmarc Restaurant


Razak Dawood ’68

Razak Dawood '68

Razak Dawood ’68, Chairman of Descon

November 16, 2016 | Columbia Business School

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