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Conference Inspires Path for Family Business Club

March 20, 2019

This spring, the School of Business at St. John Fisher College is launching a Family Business Club to serve students who are interested in the unique experiences of being in a family-owned firm.

MBA student Tess Arnone with Family Business Fellow Derek Vanderlinde at the Colombia Family Business Conference.

Tess Arnone, a member of the MBA program who watched her grandfather and father both run businesses, said she connected with course material in a class she took as an undergraduate.

“As I was listening and reading course materials, I was familiar with the topics being discussed due to my experience,” she said. “I was excited about how much I could related to the content and my interest has continued since.”

That interest led her to New York City earlier this month to attend a Family Business Conference hosted by Colombia University. Accompanied by Dr. Carol Wittmeyer and Derek Vanderlinde, Arnone attended the conference to learn more about how a club on campus can support students with a stake in family business.

“We were able to gather great insight on the direction we think would be best for the club while simultaneously gaining student and community participation,” she explained. “We discussed possible topics that would be interesting to students interested in family businesses based on the panels we attended as well as what others thought would be interesting to incorporate.”

While in New York, Arnone heard presentations on entrepreneurs in family business, conflict management and succession planning, multi-generational women in business, and direct investing in entrepreneurial ventures. She sees Fisher’s Family Business Club offering similar opportunities for students in family businesses or those headed into careers that might advise family business owners to network and share their perspectives.

“It is a way to bring the family business community together to discuss the good, bad, and ugly that everyone deals with when being associated with a family business,” she said. “I believe that each family business story is unique. Getting as much participation as possible provides student with even more insight into what family business is all about.”

Meetings for the club are already underway, and undergraduates Andrew Kujawski Jr. and Charles Holvey plan to take on co-president roles in the club.

Students interested in joining the club can email Andrew Kujawski at