iLEAD’s US Module Sets Strong Pace for Preparing Next-Generation Global Business Leaders

Experiencing unparalleled international networking opportunities, world-class academic discussions, interactive panels with select executives, practical hands-on learning opportunities, and visits to leading American and Chinese companies with significant global impact, an exclusive group of next-generation global business leaders completed the inaugural 2015 iLEADprogram’s 10-day US Module on Wednesday, June 17.

A collaboration between Cornell University, CKGSB, US China Partners Inc. and Next Opportunity Group, the iLEAD executive education program is the only one of its kind that prepares both US and China legacy family leaders as well as other first-generation entrepreneurs for future global success through networking and collaborative learning, with modules in both the US and China.

iLEAD’s overall learning objectives are to help next-generation global business leaders:

  • Realize the critical importance of entrepreneurship and innovation in sustaining family business;
  • Understand how to globalize a family enterprise;
  • Learn to do business with China and the US;
  • Deepen relationship between wealth, values and family legacies;
  • Master strategies for sustaining wealth over generations;
  • Develop skills to lead and manage in cross-cultural settings; and,
  • Form lasting friendships, build a preeminent global business network, and leverage real business opportunities.

The US Module featured four days in the Philadelphia region before moving on to New York City. Participants will travel to Beijing and Shanghai during the upcoming China Module in July 2015. Among the highlights of this multi-faceted deep dive in the US:

Panel Discussions with Select Executives and Academics

Participants were privileged to engage in high-level discussions with top-level American CEOs and senior executives. Among the many standouts:

Panel: Continuing a Familys Legacy

CAPTION: Dennis Jaffe, left, Andrew Pitcairn and E. Paul du Pont III led an iLEAD panel discussion on “Continuing a Family’s Legacy” at CKGSB’s New York office.

Objective: To learn best practices for legacy families to sustain and grow through the generations. What defines a legacy family versus a non-legacy family? What core principals can be learned from studying successful, long-running family businesses? What missteps should be avoided? What is a family council and what are the best practices for operating one?


  • E. Paul du Pont III, an 8th-generation member of the Du Pont family, whose 3,400 descendants trace back to founding entrepreneur Pierre du Pont. Family members no longer run the company started in 1802 by Pierre, but they still hold a substantial chunk of its shares. The Du Pont family is one of America’s richest with a net worth of $15 billion USD in 2014.
  • Andrew Pitcairn, Pitcairn Family Council Chair and member of Pitcairn’s Board of Directors. Pitcairn’s legacy descends from John A. Pitcairn, who co-founded Pittsburgh Plate Glass Co. in 1883 (known today as PPG Industries though the Pitcairns sold their last stake in the company in 1986). The Pitcairn family has more than 650 members today and invests the Pitcairn family fortune in Pitcairn. The Pitcairn family is also one of America’s richest with a net worth of $1.6 billion USD in 2014.
  • Moderated by Dennis Jaffe, who works with multi-generational families to develop governance practices and the capability of next-generation leadership, and to develop the capability of financial organizations and family offices to serve their family clients. As both an organizational consultant and clinical psychologist in a career spanning 40 years, he is one of the architects of the field of family enterprise consulting.

Jaffe began by sharing insights from his research interviewing more than 70 100-year-old legacy families on the reasons behind their longevity. He offered best practices for multigenerational family enterprises and shared the seven qualities he sees most frequently among this uniquely successful group.

du Pont and Pitcairn both shared their family histories and reflected on their respective paths through the generations. du Pont stressed the importance of adaptability, sharing how the family business started out making gunpowder but evolved over time to become the chemical company we know today. He also shared his thoughts on the Du Pont family’s missteps, stating, “We have the appearance of a legacy family, but we’re really a bunch of legacy individuals.”

Pitcairn discussed the essential role of a family office that began in 1923. He also reflected on the success of the Pitcairn Family Council, stressing the importance of communication across the generations.

The panel fielded questions from the iLEAD group, including how they define who is considered a family member and what first-generation families must do to build a legacy culture.

Panel: Entrepreneurship View of Legacy Family

CAPTION: Peter Cuneo, left, Colin Cuneo and Al Berg with moderator Jeremiah Schnee partake in an iLEAD panel discussion on “Entrepreneurship View of Family Legacy” at CKGSB’s New York office.

Objective: To learn the key factors first-generation entrepreneurs must consider as they prepare to pass the baton to the next generation. Is the next generation capable and willing to lead? If so, what steps should I take to start a family office and begin sharing the business with my children? If not, what does selling a company look like? In either case, how do I structure my estate to take care of my children and future generations of my family?


  • Peter Cuneo, the mastermind of seven corporate turnarounds, including Marvel, Clairol, Black & Decker and Remington. Today Cuneo is the CEO of Cuneo & Co., which he runs with his two sons, Colin and Gavin. A frequent traveler to China (he just returned from trip #54), Cuneo recently brokered a 9-figure deal between comic book company Valiant Entertainment and DMG, a Chinese and US film production group.
  • Colin Cuneo, one of three founding partners of Cuneo & Co. Colin is also enrolled in iLEAD.
  • Al Berg, who in 1983 co-founded Marchon Eyewear, one of the world’s largest manufacturers, designers and distributors of quality fashion and technologically-advanced eyewear and sunwear, and ultimately sold it to VSP in 2008 for $735 million.

Reflecting on the influences that shaped him as a businessman, Peter Cuneo spoke candidly about the values his parents instilled in him and his experiences in the US Navy during the Vietnam War. He shared his thoughts on the unique skills required to turn companies around. He discussed why he is now focused on his family office. “I work for my sons and my six grandchildren now.”

Colin talked about the working relationships he has established with his father and brother, sharing how each of their unique strengths allows them to tackle different pieces of the business.

Berg talked about the considerations he made when deciding to sell his business rather than pass it on to his two children. He also shared the details of how he has structured his family’s estate to provide for his two children, his wife and future generations.

The panel fielded many questions on estate planning, startups, and targeting companies in need of turnarounds.

Panel: The Value of Giving

Objective: To explore the role of philanthropy in a family business. Why is philanthropy important? What are the key cultural differences between the US and China as related to charitable giving? What should next-generation leaders consider when deciding how to involve their families in giving? What are the different forms of philanthropy and how can one decide which path is best?


  • Andrew Ho, a philanthropic advisor with an extensive background in research, global programs, and family philanthropy strategy and best practices at Kordant Philanthropy Advisors.
  • Amy Houston, Managing Director of Management Assistance and Administration for The Robin Hood Foundation, New York’s largest poverty-fighting organization, dubbed a “hedge fund for humanity” by CBS’ “60 Minutes.” Over its 25 year history, Robin Hood has distributed more than $1.25 billion USD to hundreds of New York City-based soup kitchens, homeless shelters, schools, job training programs, and other vital services. The board of directors pays all administrative, fundraising and evaluation costs, so 100% of donations supports organizations directly.
  • Richard Marker, a philanthropy advisor and New York University professor with extensive experience working with families, foundations and philanthropists around the US and other countries. He’s the author of “Saying ‘Yes’ Wisely: Insights for the Thoughtful Philanthropist” and the blog “Wise Philanthropy.”
  • Moderated by Jordan Goodman, a finance journalist who formerly worked for Money magazine as a Wall Street correspondent. He appears frequently on The View, Fox News Network, Fox Business Network, CNN, CNBC and CBS evening news.

Ho shared an overview of philanthropy in the US, home to 86,000 foundations as of 2012, and China, where giving is less institutionally established and only 4,400 foundations are in operation. For leaders inheriting family businesses, he addressed the importance that giving can play in keeping families connected across generations.

Houston spoke to Robin Hood’s limited mission of fighting poverty in New York City as being absolutely critical to the foundation’s success. She also described the metrics they’ve developed to evaluate the social impact of their various efforts. “Data in combination with your heart is how you can make the best possible investment” of your philanthropic dollars,” Houston said.

Marker detailed the three levels of philanthropy: 1.“feel-good” or compassionate; 2. strategic; 3. systemic. There is a current trend to fund systemic efforts over the other two. However, Marker cautioned, “there’s a place for all three levels of philanthropy.”

Visits to Leading American and Chinese Companies

The iLEAD group took many visits to American and Chinese companies and start-ups with significant global impact, interacting with top executives along the way. An overview of some key visits:

CAPTION: Haier America President and CEO Adrian Micu speaks to the iLEAD group during a company visit to Haier America’s Wayne, NJ, headquarters.

Haier America

  • Where: Wayne, NJ, headquarters.
  • Company at a glance: Haier America is a wholly owned subsidiary of Haier Group, the world’s #1 major appliance brand as ranked by Euromonitor International 2014, and a global leader in consumer electronics. Haier began humbly when founder and long-serving CEO Zhang Ruimin took over a small, failing refrigerator company in Qingdao China in 1984. Today, Haier employs more than 70,000 people around the world and distributes products in more than 100 countries and regions with global revenues reaching $32.1 billion in 2014. The company’s rapid growth and Zhang’s unorthodox management strategies have made it the subject of case studies at business schools worldwide.
  • Met with: Haier America President and CEO Adrian Micu, who joined Haier America in February 2014 and is responsible for overseeing the company’s businesses in North and South America. Micu has more than 25 years of experience with executive-level engineering, technology and product development within the appliance industry, particularly with the Whirlpool Corporation.

Micu spent more than 90 minutes offering key insights into Haier America’s strategic plans for growing their share of the American marketplace, from establishing a unified vision to preparing a complete marketing campaign and revamped product line ready to roll out later this year. He fielded many questions from the group regarding niche markets, recruiting competitive talent, cultural differences between Chinese and American consumers, and Haier’s approach to acquiring other companies.

Bloomberg, L.P.

  • Where: New York City headquarters.
  • Company at a glance: Bloomberg, L.P. is a privately held company providing economic, financial and computerized information, and legal regulatory and compliance news and research. Divisions include Bloomberg Professional, Bloomberg News, Bloomberg Radio and Bloomberg Businessweek. Founder Michael Bloomberg returned to lead the company in January 2015. With $8.3 billion in revenue as of 2014, the company employs more than 15,500 people around the world.
  • Tour given by: Nicholas Zeleniuch, Sales & Analytics, Bloomberg.

Going behind the scenes at Bloomberg’s impressive headquarters, Zeleniuch took the group through the company’s carefully designed interior. “Spaces are open and transparent to mirror the openness and transparency of data,” Zeleniuch said. The group toured the company’s news and media floor, which employs 2,300 journalists. The floor also houses Bloomberg’s TV and Radio operations, and Charlie Rose films onsite. An exhibit showcases the evolution of the Bloomberg Terminal, which currently has 320,000 unique licenses in operation worldwide.

CAPTION: iLEAD participants had the thrill of witnessing the day’s closing bell ceremony at Nasdaq during an exclusive tour of the company’s headquarters in the heart of New York City’s Times Square.


  • Where: New York City headquarters.
  • Company at a glance: Launched primarily as a US-based equities exchange in 1971, today Nasdaq is recognized around the globe as a diversified worldwide financial technology, trading and information services provider to the capital markets, with more than 3,500 colleagues serving businesses and investors from over 50 offices in 26 countries across six continents – and in every capital market. Nasdaq’s market cap as of May 2015 was $8.6 billion USD.

This exclusive tour took the group onto the floor of Nasdaq’s television broadcasting studio. Our tour guides offered insights on competition between Nasdaq and NYSE for IPOs as well as the process for Chinese companies going public. The tour concluded with the thrill of witnessing the day’s closing bell ceremony.

CAPTION: The iLEAD group on a stage lit with Google’s iconic colors during an exclusive tour inside the company’s New York City office.


Where: New York City office.

Company at a glance: Google is an American multinational technology company specializing in Internet-related services and products. Based in Mountain View, Calif., Google states that its mission is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” Employing more than 55,000 people worldwide, Google’s revenues in 2014 were $66 billion USD.

iLEAD participants had the exclusive opportunity to tour Google’s New York City office, though the company asks the contents of the tour not be shared with the public.

Experiential Learning

CAPTION: iLEAD participants take part in a hands-on Pit Crew Challenge.

Capping off 10 days of rigorous study as a team, the iLEAD participants took part in a unique Pit Crew Challenge experiential activity. They assumed the roles of a team charged with prepping a race-car for victory. Through this metaphorical task, the iLEAD crew sharpened their communication skills and experienced the advantages and challenges of collaboration in an interdependent team.

The iLEAD group also bonded and created their own network as a peer group of next-generation leaders during cultural activities ranging from seeing “Something Rotten” on Broadway, to touring the Pitcairn family’s impressive Glencairn estate, to attending a Yankees baseball game.

CAPTION: iLEAD participants and staff unwind and celebrate the end of the US Module while attending a Yankees game on June 17, 2015.

Rounded out with daily engaging lectures on core topics by academics from Cornell, MIT, Wharton and more, the US Module was a powerful tool for growth and preparation for future success. The China Module awaits with its own range of visceral, memorable learning situations.

Select spots remain for the China Module. To learn more about iLEAD, visit the iLEAD website, or contact Daniel G. Van Der Vliet at 607-255-2881 or

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