Business Families Centre


About the Family Business Centre

The Business Families Centre was initiated in 2001 by more than 30 founding families.  At that time, business families were grossly underrepresented in the academic market, despite employing about half of the Canadian workforce and being responsible for approximately 55% of Canada’s GDP.

Seeking to position itself as a key player in the growing field of family enterprise studies, the BFC’s initial mandate was simple: bridge leading family enterprise scholarship to meaningfully serve the broader business family community via outreach, access to resources, and delivery of cutting-edge programming.  Led by then-Executive Director Judi Cunningham and supported by an Advisory Board comprised of leading business minds, the BFC quickly established itself as world-class resource for the business family community.

Since developing its first family programs, the BFC has expanded in many directions—in service not only to families and their businesses, but also by contributing family enterprise research, building national and international networks, working with media, engaging the business community at large, and partnering with with the Institute of Family Enterprise Advisors (IFEA) to successfully establish the only family enterprise advisor designation in the world.

Having made significant headway in its mission to illuminate family enterprise as a specialized academic field and supported by the Bank of Montreal’s Financial Group, the BFC is now building on its past successes to cultivate new events, resources, and programs for today’s business families.  Housed within UBC’s Sauder School of Business, Canada’s leading research business school, the BFC is uniquely situated to draw from leading family enterprise and business academics to meet the complex needs of enterprising families at all stages of their business and ownership life cycles.

Our people

inline image

Vanessa M. Strike

CIBC Professorship in Applied Business Family Studies
Assistant Professor, Organizational Behaviour and Human Resources Division

Vanessa Strike is an Assistant Professor in Sauder’s Organizational Behaviour and Human Resources Division, and holds the CIBC Professorship in Applied Business Family Studies.

Vanessa received her PhD in Strategy and Entrepreneurship from the Richard Ivey School of Business in 2009.  Prior to joining UBC, Vanessa was the founding and scientific director of the Erasmus Centre for Family Business at the Netherlands’ Rotterdam School of Management.  Her research interests include Family Business, Entrepreneurship, Governance, Comparative Ownership Structures, and CSR.  In particular, Vanessa focuses on the challenges of governance and decision-making within the family firm, and on family firm advising.

Vanessa has published in the Journal of International Business Studies, Family Business Review, and Academy of Management Best Paper Proceedings.  Her recent award-winning publications include Leaving a Legacy of Transgenerational Success: The Effect of Socioemotional Wealth on CEO Career Horizons in Family Firms (Best Family Business Paper, Entrepreneurship Division - 2013 Academy of Management Annual Conference); The Most Trusted Advisor and the Subtle Advice Process in Family Firms; and Advising the Family Firm: Reviewing the Past to Build the Future (Most Cited Article in 2012 - Family Business Review). See Vanessa's research and publications here.

David C. Bentall

David C. Bentall

Adjunct Professor

As an adjunct professor at the Sauder School of Business, David has taught undergraduate and graduate courses on family enterprise since 2007 and courses for both business families and their advisors. Utilizing his experience as a leading instructor in family-business dynamics and his years as president and CEO of The Bentall Group where he increased annual sales from $150 million to almost $300 million, David provides succession consulting and executive coaching to top-performing executives. A Certified Professional Coach with the International Coaches Federation and a Family Business Advisor with the Family Firm Institute, David also co-founded the Business Families Centre and sat as Founding Chair from 2001-2006.

Wendy Sage-Hayward

Wendy Sage-Hayward

Adjunct Professor

Wendy is an adjunct professor at the Sauder School of Business and has 25 years of experience working with business leaders and family firms. A leader in education and programming for business families and their advisors, she teaches at the Business Families Centre at Sauder and consults with the Family Business Consulting Group. She facilitates multi-generational conversations on firm continuity, next generation preparation and governance. A member of a 128-year-old family enterprise herself, Wendy is one of the directors of the board of her family enterprise, which has about 40 partners in the cousin consortium stage.

Elizabeth Newton

Dr. Elizabeth Newton

Lecturer, Marketing and Behavioural Science Division

Elizabeth is a full-time lecturer at Sauder’s Marketing and Behavioural Science Division. She is also a Registered Psychologist who consults with organizations and executive teams across Canada. Her work focuses on building productive, innovative leadership teams. Much of her work has been with creative new ventures. As a writer, her columns have been featured in magazines and newspapers world-wide.

Christopher Obst

Christopher Obst

Christopher is a certified family enterprise advisor and Principal of Jump Management Coaching. As a performance-focused coach, he brings more than 12 years of experience in challenging organizational leaders at top companies like Microsoft and PwC. He also writes extensively about managing people and energy. His talent for motivating high-performing teams earned the National Post’s “Canada’s 50 Best Managed Private Companies” Award.

Scott Sinclair

Scott Sinclair

Lecturer, Accounting & Management Information Systems Division

Scott is a full-time lecturer in Sauder’s Accounting Division. A popular and dynamic instructor, Scott has received the Commerce Undergraduate Society Teaching Exellence Award twice, as well as the Killam Teaching Award for excellence in undergraduate teaching.

Our education partners

The Family Enterprise Xchange (FEX)

The Family Enterprise Xchange (FEX) is an independent association comprised of family enterprises and their professional advisors. This supportive community provides shared wisdom, world-class expertise, and education to address the realities and opportunities unique to Family Enterprise. As the founding educational partner of the Family Enterprise Advisor (FEA) Program, UBC Sauder’s Business Families Centre delivers this flagship program at UBC’s Vancouver downtown campus. This learning opportunity allows professionals, such as lawyers, accountants, financial advisors, board members and consultants, to understand the unique challenges faced by family enterprises and help better support them. The FEA Program is also the first step to becoming FEA Certified, the only family enterprise advisor designation in the world.

Business Families Foundation (BFF)

Business Families Foundation (BFF) is a not-for-profit charitable organization established to support, help and empower business families to ensure their sustainability and harmony for generations to come. BFF designs and develops interactive online education on important topics relevant to business families around the world. The UBC Sauder Business Families Centre has been a long-time partner of BFF via shared programming for members and professionals of family firms.

Image of woman with a headset talking
  • Have a question?

    Our team is happy to help.

  • Get in touch

    Sauder School of Business
    +1 604.822.8262
    Fax: +1 604.822.8496
    1600 - 800 Robson Street
    Vancouver, BC V6Z 3B7