Women in Family Business Leadership Roles

Women in Family Business Leadership Roles

Daughters on the Stage

Mary Barrett and Ken Moores

Mary Barrett and Ken Moores breathe new life into research on one of the largest and yet frequently overlooked business sectors. They analyse thirteen international cases of women in family business to discover how women attained leadership or, sometimes, failed to do so. By examining in detail how women have reached the top in the traditionally conservative environment of family business, the book avoids essentialist assumptions about women as leaders. It illuminates classic issues of entrepreneurship in a family business context, particularly the dual imperatives of innovation and business continuity. Women in Family Business Leadership Roles presents contemporary research that looks at the patterns of success and failure, and understand whether this is the result of gender or other factors.

Chapter 6: Directing the Spotlight Elsewhere

Mary Barrett and Ken Moores

Subjects: business and management, diversity and management, entrepreneurship, family business


In earlier chapters we considered how some women leaders are pushed into leading a family business and deal with finding themselves in the spotlight. Others build their own firm away from the original family business, where they can do things their way. However, another approach exists to women’s family business leadership where, instead of seeking to be in the spotlight themselves, leaders direct it elsewhere. Two cases illustrate this approach: Gloria and Cass. GLORIA Gloria’s journey, like Brenda’s, was a rapid introduction to firm leadership, but it was far less difficult. Even having entered, expanded and left the family business to start her own firm—now a listed company in Hong Kong—Gloria was still only in her early thirties. The first few sentences of the interview summarise her progress through life and business: Gloria: I was involved with the [original] family business [a large plastic moulding injection company in Hong Kong], for about 15 years, then I was promoted to a senior managing director position. Later on I felt that my personal vision was slightly different, and I would like to pursue something different than spending the rest of my life running a family business. So I started my own business and now I’m the founder of a listed company as well. I still provide some advice for my father’s company. I think I’ve already passed the stage of leaving the business. The listed company Gloria founded was also family controlled. She hoped to pass it on to her...

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