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Five next gens to watch – four doing well, one doing not so well


Born with a silver spoon in the mouth, members of the lucky sperm club – call them what you want, but some next generation of family dynasties are making a difference and stand to be even more influential than their predecessors.

Here are five below the age of 40 making an impact.

John Elkann, CEO and chairman of Exor; chairman of Fiat

Elkann has been so influential in the corporate world for what appears to be such a long time that it is amazing to know that he’s just 39. And this year has arguably been Elkann’s most important in terms of deal making since he became chairman of Fiat in 2010. Most recently, Elkann was behind the purchase of a 43% stake in The Economist, arguably the world’s most respected weekly business publication. That’s just a few months after the family controlled holding group Exor sold its 75% share in the real estate services group Cushman and Wakefield for a sizeable profit. Some analysts reckon he’s trying to turn Exor into a European Berkshire Hathaway, the legendary investment vehicle of Warren Buffett. He’s making a good start, and no doubt there will be some bumps along the way, but he certainly has time on his side to realise his ambitions.

Adriana Cisneros, CEO and vice chairman of Cisneros

Only 35 and already one of Latin America’s most powerful business leaders, Adriana is certainly a next gen that has made it to the big time at an early age. She heads up one of the region’s most influential conglomerates after being appointed to the position in 2013 after her father Gustavo Cisneros stepped down from the CEO position. Making her mark soon after the appointment, Adriana split Cisneros into four divisions, with the media business, arguably the most influential part, sitting at the top. Many are eagerly waiting for her next corporate move.

Jean-Victor Meyers, board member, L’Oreal

The 29 year-old was recently appointed to the board of L’Oreal, the world’s biggest cosmetic group, but his influence at the 100 year-plus family business has already been felt. The son of Françoise Bettencourt-Meyers, Jean-Victor acted as a peacemaker in the bitter conflict between his mother and grandmother, Liliane Bettencourt, who still owns most of the company’s shares. In the next decade or two, he looks destined to become the most influential family member within the €23 billion business.

Pirojsha Godrej, CEO of Godrej Properties

Made chief executive of Godrej Properties in 2012 at the age of just 31, Pirojsha looks to be doing all the right things to one day take over one of India’s most interesting conglomerates, the Godrej Group. Working in the group for more than 10 years, Pirojsha is the youngest of group chairman Adi Godrej’s three children, but appears to be the most ambitious. In the tradition of the Godrej family members, Pirojsha gained an excellent education, with degrees from Wharton, University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University. The theory is there, now the challenge for Pirojsha will be to convert that into a winning business formula, which he already appears to be achieving.

Catharina Cramer, managing partner, Warsteiner Brauerei Haus Cramer

Cramer took over as owner of one of Germany’s oldest breweries after her father died in 2013. Only 34 at the time, her appointment certainly made an impact in an industry dominated by men. However, her family heritage and own abilities are so far struggling to reignite the beer’s popularity in Germany. Warsteiner sales have fallen for more than ten years and her strategy of attempting to make the family’s beer brand the biggest in Germany appear to be faltering, according to reports in the local media. Of course, a few years of difficulty in a family business more than 250 years old may be no big issue. Cramer will be hoping this is the case.

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