As a second-generation co-owner of her family’s packaging firm Novplasta Ltd, as well as an associate professor of the Faculty of Commerce at the University of Economics in Bratislava, and the founder of the school’s Family Business Centre, Monika Nadova Kroslakova comes with a detailed wealth of research under her belt.
A passionate advocate of Slovakian family businesses, she knows the importance of imparting knowledge and experience on families looking to grow well beyond the second and then third generation and has made it her mission to expand horizons in her home country and beyond.
Here, Monika talks to Campden FB about her reasons for establishing the Family Business Centre, setting expectations for the next generation and the advice she’d give to her younger self.
Where in the world are you right now?
I’m in my home city of Bratislava in Slovakia.
Where would you rather be right now?
Right, here. I love Bratislava.
You are the founder and director of the Family Business Centre at the University of Economics in Bratislava, what are the aims of the centre?
I established the Family Business Centre with my colleague Elena last year because I wanted to bring international family business experts to Slovakia. There are a lot of families here, like my own, that are undergoing the second-to-third-generation transfer. However, many Slovak family businesses are currently in the process of transition only to the second generation. Because the wealth is still relatively new, families make a lot of mistakes when it comes to issues of wealth planning and succession and governance charters. So, I wanted to bring in the information and knowledge of international experts to help solve the situation in Slovakia.
Within my own family business, we’re looking at how to transfer to the third generation and I know it's necessary to prepare all family governance documents as well as a family constitution and the establishment of a board. So, I understand the importance of informing and educating Slovakian family businesses with first-hand experience from sixth, seventh, eighth-generation family members – the knowledge you get from this kind of interaction is better than anything you’ll find in a book. This is the reason for the preparation of webinars of our Family Business Centre.
The Unversity of Economics in Bratislava
From your research, what should every second-generation family looking to prepare for the third generation be doing?
Growing up in a family business has given me great insight. From my research to my bachelor’s degree and PhD, everything is focused on family business.
Through my research, I can directly answer who are the family business in Slovakia, how many employees they have, their turnover and their profit.
In my opinion, it is most necessary to establish family governance tools to create a board and prepare a family constitution. For example, many family businesses are not willing to have people who marry into the family to be able to join the board and attend meetings. To ensure there’s no conflict if this situation arises, the first and second generations need to have these charters in place in advance.
It's also very important to have regular family meetings. My friend, an expert for family business transfer, once said to me, ‘You and your three sisters are family for 364 days of the year – but for one day a year when you have the family meeting, you are business partners’. I think this is also a very important rule to ensure that you can avoid conflict. Open discussion between family members in everything is very important.
What does a good working day look like for you?
I do a lot of work. I am an associate professor at the university, so I must prepare and teach lectures and write articles. And then I run the Family Business Centre, and this takes a lot of time to prepare and run. But I also love exercising, so when I have time, I run, walk, and go to the gym. I also want to spend time with and cook for my children, so at the end of a good day, I’m usually quite tired!
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Maybe I feel a little bit guilty that I left working for the family business daily. But really, I love university work with students and what I do for family business in Slovakia and the knowledge they’re now able to access. So really, I’m very happy with how things have worked out!
For more information about the Family Business Centre at the University of Economics in Bratislava, contact Monika Nadova Kroslakova here.