We held another edition of G5 Talks at the end of May. This time, we spoke to Cristina Baumgart, member of the board of directors of the Family Business Network (FBN Brazil) and chairwoman of the Baumgart family council, and Silvia Pedrosa, superintendent of FBN Brazil. The Family Business Network (FBN) is the world’s leading organization of business families, promoting the success, longevity, and sustainability of family businesses.
During the chat with G5’s founding partner André Benchimol and partner Fábio Fleury, Cristina and Silvia spoke about FBN’s mission and values, as well as its importance for business families. They also commented on the organization’s influence on the Baumgart Group and its partners.
G5 Talks is a project through which business leaders exchange experiences and lessons learned with the G5 team.
FBN and the purpose to inspire business families
FBN was founded in 1989 in Switzerland and is currently present in 65 countries, with over 17 thousand members and 4 thousand business families registered. In Brazil, the organization has been present for 21 years and currently has 885 members and 120 business families registered across all sectors, such as agriculture, food, oil & gas, industrial and telecommunications.
According to Silvia, FBN’s purpose is to “awaken and inspire business families to strengthen their relationships and their businesses, evolving generation after generation to building a sustainable future”.
Within this context, FBN’s mission is to offer business families a safe space where they can learn, share, and inspire each other on how to encourage family involvement in the business, facilitate family relationships and raise awareness on the importance of family businesses in society. “We join forces to exchange experiences and we also invite specialists to address relevant issues,” stated Silvia, the superintendent of FBN Brazil.
According to Silvia, 56 activities were carried out in 2020, such as webinars, programs for family boards and family offices, in addition to masterclasses on other relevant matters. “Like everyone else, and because of the pandemic, we reinvented ourselves.
We went from in person interactions to the computer screen and that allowed us to reach everyone, anywhere”, she concluded.
FBN’s support network
For Cristina, FBN is a space in which experiences can be exchanged. “It’s a space that inspires, where we can exchange experiences, complain, cry on each other’s shoulders and find solutions because here, we have peers.”
Cristina is a member of Grupo Baumgart’s family board. The Group began its activities in Brazil in 1936 with the Vedacit brand. Today, it owns Center Norte, Lar Center and Expo Center Norte, traditional shopping spaces in the city of São Paulo, as well as the Novotel hotel network, in addition to agriculture ventures through Fazendas Reunidas. In 2020, the Group founded Truec, a player in the civil construction industry.
Cristina said she makes practical use of FBN’s structure and network to increasingly improve her business. “We are currently questioning our board structure, for example. For this, we use FBN’s structure to discuss with other families and exchange experiences with families who have strong governance structures”, she explained.
According to her, there are many advantages in participating in the association, such as the possibility of “exchanging knowledge, networking with a wide range companies of all sizes and sectors, sharing information, ensuring confidentiality, having in-depth discussions on topics such as family boards, family offices and ESG, finding inspiration for new actions and motivation to learn, teach, and gain awareness on issues involving business families for all generations.”
She recalls that her exchange with the FBN network began in 2005, during a trip her brother took with a group of associates to Switzerland to meet members of other business families. At the time, he made several friends, among them a very special one.
“He met a person who had direct competition in the shopping mall sector and invited him for an internship at the company, allowing insights into all its secrets. There are no barriers within FBN. A direct competitor becomes a friend and through that friendship we end up gaining access to lots of information. This is a good example of what the confidentiality and exchange environment is like at FBN”, she concluded.