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Six prominent women non-family CEOs at family businesses


The role of non-family senior managers at family businesses, whether listed or not, is growing as many family enterprises reform their governance structures and hire more outside bosses. But the still patriarchal nature of many family businesses has meant non-family CEOs have traditionally been more likely to be men. But things are changing. Here’s what Carrie Hall, Americas family business leader of EY, has to say: “Family businesses are ahead of the curve when it comes to women CEOs. EY and Kennesaw State University’s recent survey of the world’s largest family businesses found 70% were considering a woman as their next CEO and were more likely to be grooming a non-family member for a top position.”

These six women are leading the charge. 

Nicholson joined the car rental group owned by the Taylor family as a management trainee way back in 1983. Moving up through the ranks, Nicholson eventually took over Andrew Taylor’s job as CEO in 2013. Considered one of the most powerful business women in the US, Nicholson is in many ways the perfect non-family business CEO, because of her combination of exceptional managerial ability with loyalty to the company over a long period of time.


A close confidant of the Pinault family since joined the Pinault Group in 1989, Barbizet is CEO of  Artémis, the investment group of the Pinault family, and CEO of the holding group, Financière Pinault. She has held various other top positions within Pinault-owned companies during her 27 years working for the group, including CEO of Christie’s, the auction house.


Mondardini became CEO of the CIR Group, a holding company controlled by the De Benedetti family, in 2012 after a series of high-profile jobs in finance and publishing, including CEO of Gruppo Editoriale L’Espresso, the Italian publishing group, which is part of the CIR Group.


Terri Kelly

CEO of W. L. Gore & Associates

Kelly was appointed CEO of W.L. Gore, which is most famous for its Gore-Tex fabric, in 2005, but has worked for the Delaware family-owned business since 1983 when she joined the business after gaining a mechanical engineering degree. Often referred to as the “un-CEO” because of Gore’s tendency to avoid titles for employees, Kelly is a close associate of chairman and second generation family owner, Bob Gore, and the man behind the invention of Gore-Tex.


Christine Holgate

CEO of Blackmores

One of Australia’s most successful CEOs, Holgate became the top manager at Blackmores, a listed natural health company owned by the Blackmore family, in 2008. And since then has overseen tremendous growth, including an 115% growth in profits in the last financial year for Blackmores. Holgate works closely with the second generation Marcus Blackmore, the group’s chairman.


Uta-Micaela Dürig

CEO of Robert Bosch Stiftung

A newspaper journalist by training, Dürig oversees the Robert Bosch Foundation, which owns most of the shares in Robert Bosch GmbH, the huge consumer goods group. Although Bosh is mostly owned by the foundation, the Bosch family still have a holding in the business. Dürig started working for Bosch in 2004, becoming head of corporate communications before moving to the top job.