What challenges do you face just now? What’s your vision for the future? How will you measure success?

CONSULTANCY & ADVICE | defining ownership intentions and agreeing success measures

Consultancy is rather like a ‘diagnosis’ phase that ensures I fully understand each of the ambition within your family, business and ownership systems.

Carrying out a ‘deep dive’ into each of these overlapping systems allows me to gather data and explore your priorities – it’s the cornerstone of future proofing your family business as it allows your aspirations and intentions to be clearly articulated and understood. By honestly and openly asking difficult questions in a safe environment, and encouraging discussion of what might previously have been un-discussable, I can begin to align your intentions as family members and business owners and be your resource for change. Crucially, this also allows us to build trust and understanding on a professional and personal level, setting the benchmark for a positive and collaborative working relationship as we work towards an aligned purpose.

“Mairi was clearly empathetic to our situation and could understand the issues at stake. She asked questions that led to addressing areas we’d not previously considered – a case of getting past the symptoms to discover the central issue that was the true cause of our challenges. Mairi encouraged me to think about our situation from different peoples’ perspectives and, as a result, we created some key actions that will allow us to move forward with greater confidence.”

Craig Letton | CEO (2nd generation), Managed Response Marketing (MRM)

Using this insight to more clearly articulate your aspirations and intentions, I can begin to map out the relationship between your business, your family and your existing and planned ownership needs. Together we start laying the foundations for continuity or exit planning, opening up any challenges to closer scrutiny and establishing your vision, mission and values in order to set clear measures for success in line with your strategic plan.

What are the key elements of effective leadership? What are the keys to personal growth and success? How do we harness the next generation’s energy to drive innovation and ensure business continuity? How do we best orientate future owners?

NEXT GENERATION EDUCATION | equipping emerging leaders and future owners with skills for success

At the heart of educating your next generation is the need to develop and orientate future family leaders and owners. This means enabling them to acquire the essentials skills and understanding to contribute to the long-term, owner-driven success of your business family’s shared assets and trading business interests. I deliver this support through a combination of leadership and ownership training, development and coaching programmes.

“Mairi has a depth of experience and knowledge that brings significant value to any family business. For us, as a sixth generation family business, the main benefits of Mairi’s support were helping us to understand the various aspects of the role of a family non-executive director; to recognise the importance of good governance in both short and long term development of the Group; and to appreciate the relationship between the family as shareholders and the executive body running the business.”

Tim Cooper Jones | Non-executive Director (retired), Wm Jackson Food Group

Leadership education

Navigating the complexities of family businesses using the family/business/ownership model

Handling conflict and stressful situations

Reputation management

Evolving spheres of influence

Career planning for the succeeding generations

Talent spotting in the next generation (often in collaboration with HR)

Start driving next generation innovation to benefit business continuity

Coaching and mentoring programmes (find out more)

Examining and applying latest leadership theories

Ownership education

Preparing a family business for the future means orientating its owners for future complex decision-making – a key aspect of both continuity and exit planning. Working with family members, I support them to address and acquire the skills they require based on the age and experience of your next generation:

Business skills – Developing commercial oversight

Governance skills – Modernising and professionalising family and business interactions

Wealth skills – Developing a purposeful mindset towards money, wealth and inheritance

EQ Skills – Developing self awareness, active listening and communication skills

Quite simply, next generation education is a vehicle that offers the highest likelihood of success for onboarding next generation leaders. Engaging in ownership education ensures that the owners involved in leading, supporting or driving the family business are equipped with the professional skills and expertise demanded in any successful business environment, not just their own.

Who needs time out to explore challenging issues? How can we instill confidence and support personal growth?

EXECUTIVE COACHING | supporting individuals to grow and flourish

Coaching is about sharing troubles as well as dreams and is as beneficial to the most senior members of a family business as it is to emerging leaders. In fact, the most successful, experienced and senior people in business today use executive coaching to take time out to explore ideas, regain perspective, challenge narrow thinking or simply share challenges and ‘think out loud’ in an impartial and safe environment.

“Mairi asks the right questions and has led me to very solid decisions, helping me to focus and prioritise. As a result, I have able to look at problems in different ways and find meaningful solutions. She’s quick to pinpoint the crux of a situation and never fails to leave me with helpful insights, ideas or questions to ponder.”

Kirstian Findlay | European Head of HR, Baxters Food Group

As a qualified coach, my approach is simply to begin a conversation triggered by the situation you are in. This is particularly effective in family businesses where the additional complexity of balancing business interests with family and ownership commitments can impact on clear judgment and decision-making. By introducing executive coaching I can:

Provide support to family members (both retiring and succeeding generations) as they progress through the transition process

Provide support to emerging directors and family business leaders (who may not always be family members) as well as business owners, enabling them to define and meet their personal and professional goals

Executive coaching allows you to explore the challenges you face in a safe and neutral environment away from day-to-day pressures. I encourage greater confidence in the existing and emerging leaders of your family business – both family and non-family members – by supporting them to develop the habits, self awareness and resilience they need for personal and professional success, allowing individuals to grow and flourish and stay true to their hearts.

Is there an elephant in the room? Are family members pulling in different directions? What are your shared legacy intentions across the generations?

FAMILY MEETING FACILITATION | aligning families’ social, personal and business values

In the family business environment, it’s understandable that family tensions can often intrude into the workplace or the boardroom, impacting on business decision-making and direction. Working with teams, families and individuals, family meeting facilitation better defines and facilitates improved and aligned family values. We will explore the family, business and ownership systems by addressing issues around leadership, ownership, wealth and asset management, and legacy and value ambitions. Some of the benefits this brings to business families are:


Handling conflict and stressful situations

Managing business family relationships

Career planning for the succeeding and retiring generations


Putting improved governance in place

Creating appropriate ownership forums such as family councils, family offices and philanthropic funds

Creating shareholder agreements, family business constitutions and modernisation of articles

Wealth & asset management

Defining wealth needs of family members including the ‘weight’ of wealth on the next generation

Ensuring asset and business requirements can deliver family wealth aspirations

Considering reward and fairness in terms of distribution to family members, within and outwith the business

Legacy & values

Defining the values that align the family members who are in business together – your business family DNA

Determining the type of legacy being handed on to the next generation

Exploring philanthropic giving intentions, strategy and planning

“We all came home from our session with Mairi with a feeling of release from recent tensions and a measured ‘togetherness’ to move onward. It was undoubtedly Mairi’s astute guidance that allowed us to achieve this and to create space for some ancient grievances to come to light, which can now be laid to rest.”

Founder (1st generation) | Generation 2 tourism business in Cairngorm National Park

By coming together, inter-generationally, to explore these issues we can enable family cohesion, alignment and (where appropriate) forgiveness and resolution. Family meeting facilitation also encourages the older generation to view the younger generation as responsible adults in a business context and the incoming generation to better empathise with the founder’s exit dilemmas (addressing both sides of the ‘sticky baton’ syndrome!). This allows us to develop clear stepping stones to leadership transition and address other issues more closely with the necessary resources.

How can professional advisors provide the greatest support to business families?

Are the challenges of business, family and ownership being addressed with sensitivity as well as skill?


Today, family businesses demand the highest levels of service from their team of professional advisors. But that service isn’t just limited to the advisors’ specialist skills in law, finance, human resources or any other field of expertise. More and more, family business owners and leaders expect their professional advisors to be equipped with softer skills too – the emotional intelligence that allows an advisor to evaluate a situation from the business family’s perspective.

“I worked alongside Mairi as a Tutor at the Institute of Directors on a Family Governance course. We designed the course from scratch and her family business experience and awareness of issues were invaluable. She prepares thoroughly, is very dependable and her coaching style is confident and encourages participation.”

Mike Willis | Head of Board Development, Institute of Directors, Scotland

My role as a family business advisor means that I can work as closely with the business family’s professional advisors as with the business family itself. With a robust understanding of the business family’s aspirations and intentions, I am ideally placed to support professional advisors too, allowing them to develop a wider understanding of the challenges of the family, business and ownership systems through coaching, bespoke training and strategic guidance.

The most effective and conscientious professional advisors help to illuminate and resolve the complex needs of the family business and the business family. Through open and honest collaboration, I can help professional advisors to strengthen their relationship with the family business they support, becoming a valuable resource for change.

Do you need to get your house in order? Are there disagreements over how to grow or sell your business? Is it time to formalise your giving intentions?

ADDITIONAL SPECIALISMS | board evaluation, strategic planning, philanthropy


Acting as an impartial outsider, I help privately-owned boards to determine if they have the correct composition and performance levels to develop best practice and effectiveness. Is the necessary mix of skills, experience, knowledge and diversity in place to deal with the challenges and opportunities facing your family business now and in the future? It’s particularly important to establish effectiveness on the board to ensure that the role of each key player – family or non-family – is clearly defined and will allow the business to flourish. A better understanding of governance reviews assists the impact of change dynamics and working practices. By supporting the evolution of strategies, I can help to modernise and professionalise owner-managed boards.


If you don’t have a strategic plan in place, then you’re not alone. Redefining your mission, vision and values is the bedrock to creating a solid and thematic strategic plan. In my opinion, this is one of the most important exercises you can undertake as it provides a clear reference point against which to set short-term and long-term goals. The inclusive owner-led thinking that goes into the creation of a strategic plan is as valuable as the plan itself.


Business families of wealth tend to be generous philanthropists as part of their inherent values-based approach to their communities. But are your philanthropic giving intentions well-planned and organised? I can offer specialist support, working with you to explore the causes you feel passionate about and supporting you to develop and align your philanthropic intentions, and those of your family members or trustees, with the appropriate governance in place to deliver them effectively. I am also a great believer in using formalised giving in business families as a perfect vehicle to help educate the next generation of business owners in commercial oversight and decision-making. Also, philanthropy can be a place for retiring family owners and directors to continue to use their expertise to deliver social and community impact.