Lee Kum Kee: The Secret Sauce at the MBA Family Enterprise Elective.February 2017
Three members of the Lee Family that runs the multi-generation Hong Kong-based CPG company, Lee Kum Kee, were welcomed by sixty students and Professor Justin Craig to the MBA elective, Family Enterprises: Issues and Solutions. They offered themselves up as "Exhibits A, B and C" during a discussion of the case study titled "How to Motivate the Fifth Generation? Balancing Engagement and Entitlement at Lee Kum Kee", authored by Professor John Ward. The enterprise, founded in 1888, manufactures and sells 220 different sauces and condiments to over 100 countries and regions globally.
The KCFE's commitment to this sort of experiential learning in the classroom is intentional. "Another dimension to the course is added when students can see the whites of the eyes of the case protagonists who are so eager for students to learn from them and their experiences as family business leaders" shared Professor Craig. The case visitors included Eddy Lee, a 4th generation leader currently holding two board director slots and two chairmanships within the enterprise, and his two daughters Danielle and Andrea.
Students commented about the session:
Pamela from Mexico: "Having the opportunity to meet members of the Lee family gave me the chance to use all the knowledge acquired inside the classroom into a real-life experience. Being able to put a face to the name helped me achieve a better grasp of the lessons taught in the Family Business course. Their family values, that were so vibrant in every family member, demonstrate how the family name is more important than any individual. The Lees' generosity and openness created a very comfortable environment to ask questions and dive into personal experiences. This made me compare and contrast my family's experience and identify the areas that need some improvement, such as family governance."
Teo from El Salvador: "They were phenomenal guests, opening the inner workings of the family to our class, along with some of the challenges they are facing. I was very impressed by the amount of time they dedicate to family-centric events throughout the year."
Russ from USA: "The family was very impressive. They understood the interplay between family and business and how neither was meant to be limiting. They demonstrated a compelling vision of stewardship applied holistically to all stakeholders, building on the past and growing into the future."
Rei from Indonesia: "Meeting the Lee family was very eye opening and valuable. It was interesting to see how they established formal structures between the family and business to mitigate the conflicts that they experienced in previous generations. At the same time, the Lee daughters shed light onto the importance of having a system that can be iterated such that it can stand the test of time. On a personal level, I gained a new friend. One of the daughters and I exchanged contact information as we come from similar backgrounds - Western educated, Asian family business. It was great to hear the perspectives from someone going through the same issues that I am."