Disruptive Successor Podcast

Episode 43 - Global Career with Fortune 500 Tech Company Meets Evolving Needs of The Family Enterprise - A Discussion with Rustom J Desai.

Episode Summary

Joining Jonathan Goldhill in this episode of the Disruptive Successor Podcast is Rustom Desai, Senior Lecturer at Cornell Johnson Graduate School of Management after spending 25 years as a global technology executive with Corning Incorporated. Rustom's father successfully built his career with Kelvinator and eventually got a controlling stake in the company. The sale of the company to Whirlpool was deemed in the best interest and JRD Holdings, which Rustom and his two sisters would inherit, would be born after this. However, the nature of the company changed from operations to investment holdings. Rustom shares the difficulties in setting boundaries between ownership, management, and governance and how this affects the future prospects of their company. He provides his insights on their successes and the critical role of communication between stakeholders to provide clarity and vision as the company moves into the future.

Episode Notes


03:18 Tech is currently not a family business space as it requires fast ROI

05:51 Kelvinator of India: Rustom's father had strategic alliances in his DNA 

09:06 Kelvinator is sold to Whirlpool and JRD Holdings Group is christened

12:33 The family business: Trust and communication are needed for succession 

17:13 Transitioning from a web of trading companies to investment holdings

21:06 Post succession: Distributing responsibilities among siblings and stakeholder meetings 

25:57 Clarifying boundaries in governance, management, and the ownership structure

29:38 Negotiating is different for a family enterprise and a company of widely held professionals

34:39 Contributing to the family business felt compelling to Rustom 


09:26 "My dad took a few of his senior executives from Kelvinator over to the JRD group and they started to look for the next big thing. The interesting thing from a family. family business standpoint though was that there was really no succession plan."

18:53 "The two major lenses that I looked at when I saw that portfolio at this time was, what are you doing that the other guy next door isn't doing? How are you bringing value in a way that somebody else can't, A. And B, is there something here that can be enduring, that can survive over time?"

20:06 "After my dad's passing, my siblings and I started to work very closely on what I call a governance agreement between the three of us to ensure that we found that right. balance between giving each other flexibility but also being on the right side of good governance."

21:13 "We don't necessarily need a corporate structure per se or an org structure, one of my sisters takes care of, essentially, people-related and administration-related issues. The other one takes care of legal issues, and I take care of what I would call investment and business type-issues."

29:49 "It is so important to have open discussions about ownership, management, and governance. Families often resist doing that for a variety of different reasons. And that just builds up over time, the lack of clarity builds up over time."

To learn more about Rustom, you can check out the links below.

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