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Working with Family: Guest lecturers explore how entrepreneurship can affect family dynamic

Attendees socialize at a networking mixer hosted after Maria Markusen and Jim Creigh’s lecture on how entrepreneurship can affect the family dynamic in the Gore Auditorium on March 27. Some of the students who attended said while they learned something from the event, they wouldn’t consider going into business with their family members. (Photo by John Perri)

Westminster College community gathered to listen for guest lecture on the importance of family in business in Bill and Vieve Gore School of Business Auditorium Wednesday.

Speakers Marina Markusen and Jim Creigh explained to the audience how they manage their business lives while also managing their family lives.

Maria Markusen is an entrepreneur who helped guide the rebranding of many companies and Jim Creigh is a corporate lawyer with experience in corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions, according to their bios. Markusen and Creigh are both part of a soap company called Pacha Soap CO, where Markusen is an outside director and Creigh provides legal counsel for the company.

Maria Markusen and Jim Creigh are also married with a son who is a first-year student at Westminster.

The main challenges of both being in business and running a family are schedule, time and knowing when to talk about certain things, Creigh and Markusen said. Because of their different positions in Pacha there are some things they cannot discuss with each other.

Markusen and Creigh said knowing when to take a step back when they run into each other’s clients is also one of the keys to maintaining their relationship. Creigh said it is about knowing when to take a supporting role with each other.

This lecture was part of series of lectures hosted by the Bill and Vieve Gore School of Business and Karin Palle, the director of entrepreneurship at Westminster. This lecture is the second in a series which will conclude on May 1, 2019.

Maria Markusen and Jim Creigh conclude their lecture on how to balance family and business relationships with going into business with a family member in the Gore Auditorium on March 27. The lecture was part of series hosted by the Bill and Vieve Gore School of Business and entrepreneurship program at Westminster. (Photo by John Perri)

Palle said she wants to bring entrepreneurs to the school to “connect the community with the students and the students [with] the community.”

“I think that the best learning comes from entrepreneurs and connecting and finding out what’s happening locally,” Palle said. “Westminster is a rich resource for businesses.”

Christian Valcarce, a student in the master of accounting program and attendee of the lecture, said he liked the event but knew from personal experience that running a business with a family member came with risks.

“My relatives own a produce business up in Brigham City, and that has been nothing but problems since my grandfather passed away,” Valcarce said. “I’ve got relatives suing other relatives, for no reason whatsoever. […] They worked in harmony before my grandfather died.”

Mike Mastromarino, a Westminster finance and economics student, said he was required to attend for his entrepreneurship class but found the lecture beneficial.

“I was able to listen in on a local entrepreneur story,” Mastromarino said. “I learned a little bit about how entrepreneurship can affect the family dynamic if you go into business with a family member.”

Despite learning this, Mastromarino said he would not go into business with a family member.

Liam Mooney, a Westminster custom major in venture entrepreneurship, said working with family can present its challenges but it’s something he would consider in the future.

“It was nice to kind of learn about what goes into running a business in terms of family dynamics,” Mooney said. “While I believe it definitely presents its challenges – I don’t think every family can pull it off – but it’s super inspiring to hear a family who has. It motivates me to kind of seek out some opportunities looking forward in terms of my professional life and personal life and how to integrate those two.”


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John Perri is a senior communication major and a huge New England Patriots fan. Perri was raised in downtown Boston but currently lives in Utah for now. He loves to talk to strangers, so if you see him come say “hi!”

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