Business Families Centre

Business Fundamentals for Family Enterprise

Examine core business and leadership topics through the unique lens of family enterprise

This five-day course provides a comprehensive understanding of family business by integrating key business and leadership topics with family enterprise theory and best practices.

Our faculty will engage you in practical exercises to build your skill and confidence in core business areas (communication and relationship management, leadership, accounting and finance, and innovation), and then apply that knowledge to the family business context. You also will have the opportunity to delve into specific opportunities and challenges unique to family businesses (governance and transitions).

You will emerge with an improved understanding of the overall business and your role within it. You will also be equipped with tools and techniques to manage your family firm’s particular opportunities and challenges. 

Course format

Business Fundamentals for Family enterprises is a fast-paced, highly-interactive, five-day course. It combines instruction on core business and family enterprise concepts with family business case studies, small group projects, and experiential learning activities. In blending theory with applied, skill-building exercises, this course equips you with specific business and leadership strategies that can be immediately applied within your family business.

Core teachings & takeaways

During this five-day course, our award-winning faculty and subject matter experts will explore each of the following topics, supported by a leadership coach with family enterprise expertise to tie it all together:


This course does not require any prior leadership or business training.

It is suited to family business members at all stages of business and leadership development, from next generation leaders wanting to establish a solid business foundation from which to develop, to experienced executives looking for a refresher on key business topics and the opportunity to examine them specifically from the family business perspective.

Family members may attend individually or alongside other members of their family.

Enrolment is restricted to members of family firms. For programming suitable for advisors and other professionals that work with family firms, please see the BFC’s Advisor Programs.


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.

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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.

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