Family Business Insights

Leadership, Fathers And Matriarchs: An Interview With Amy Hart Clyne

Joe Reilly, New York, April 7, 2022

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FWR recently sat down with a book author and thought leader to explore women's perspectives on business leadership, the dynamics of wealthy families, and more.

Joe Reilly, a regular writer in these pages, interviews Amy Hart Clyne, author of Finding Her Voice and Creating a Legacy, with Dennis Jaffe. (She is also chief knowledge officer and learning officer at Pitcairn. They talk about women’s leadership styles, how fathers can encourage leadership in their daughters and the status of the term matriarch. 

Joe Reilly:  Could you briefly describe the book?
Amy Hart Clyne: Women today hold leadership positions worldwide in government and business, yet in ultra-high net worth families, they far too often remain in the background, hindered by longstanding conventions and complex intergenerational dynamics. We might see these women’s names in a news story or connected to philanthropy, but we don’t really know who they are. With Finding Her Voice and Creating a Legacy, we set out to uncover their voices and celebrate their unique perspectives and contributions to their families. This book and the underlying research which offers a fuller, deeper, and richer picture of wealthy families, comes at a time when women's roles are changing at an exponential pace. This book is ultimately a celebration of women as leaders and of the fact that they have found their own way and their own path. It’s been a hard road, but these women have done it and we’re proud to share their stories. 

How did it come about?
I didn’t set out to write a book. Two situations pointed me in this direction. During my first year as a Pitcairn leader, I found that the final decision-makers of new client families were the family matriarch and I thought that was wonderful, even remarkable. I wanted to better understand that. And second, this work really grew from a conversation I had with Pitcairn’s CEO Leslie Voth about providing service and support to women of wealth and how they needed something different than men. So, I started doing some research that would help us better understand the role women play in very wealthy families and what that means for Pitcairn and society at large. As I spent more time on it and spoke to more and more women, the more obvious it became that these were stories that needed to be told so that others could benefit from the lessons these women learned the hard way. 

What was your process? How did you conduct the interviews?
The research methodology was both anthropological and cultural rather than data driven. We chose a mix of women, only a small handful were Pitcairn clients. Several dozen women of considerable means participated in deeply personal and private conversations with my co-author, Dennis Jaffe and me. They told us about how they came to wealth, their role in the family, the obstacles they overcame, and how they prepared the next generations while striving to sustain family connections and family harmony.

Who are today’s women of wealth?
We spoke to women who were an active part of their wealth creation, as well as women who inherited their wealth from a previous generation. Our research found that hampered by outdated stereotypes, some of the most important family voices in some of the world’s most influential families have been sidelined or silenced.  

What is the status of the title “matriarch?”
In this book, these women family leaders, regardless of age, are identified as the “new matriarchs” who are challenging traditional gender roles. They haven’t completely shunned the traditional matriarchal construct, but are reshaping it as caretakers and corporate leaders, family stewards and financial stakeholders. They are advocates and models of greater equality, as well as examples of what women’s sensitivity and gender experience can bring to family leadership.

The New Matriarch is a woman who forges her own path in advancing the financial success, culture, and values of her family with a focus on partnering with her spouse and preparing her children for a life of passion, purpose, and family harmony.

These pioneering women are breaking longstanding barriers of communication and connection and rewriting the rules of leadership with a focus on family and the future in the process. 

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