The Ties that Bind: Jean and Jessica Nasr
Jean Nasr, Managing Director of Mouawad Singapore and his daughter, Jessica, share how they strike a balance between the sometimes conflicting domains of family and business
As if running a successful business and maintaining harmony in the family are not hard enough to achieve individually, these siblings, parent-child pairings and husband-wife teams make juggling both seem like a piece of cake. In celebration of the International Year of the Family, we speak to the dynamic people steering prominent family businesses in Singapore.
Jean Nasr and his daughter, Jessica
Jean Nasr, Managing Director of Mouawad Singapore, has spent almost 30 years in his family’s jewellery business. Currently focused on business expansion within Asia, he works closely with his daughter, Jessica Nasr, who has steered the company’s publicity efforts as Director of Marketing and Communication for the past 2½ years.
1. Describe your working relationship with each other.
Jean: Jessica and I have always been close and her character is very much like mine. We have a healthy relationship built on mutual respect and understanding. I think that mutual understanding and respect have always been the driving force in our relationship, be it at work or in family life.
Jessica: We work really well together. We are both able to be objective during our interactions, and my father gives me the space to do what I need to within my job scope. He listens to my opinions and I listen to his feedback. Our working relationship only makes our parent-child bond stronger. Each day, I grow to respect him not only as a father but as a businessman. I learn so much from him; he is a very capable man who is good at what he does. It is fascinating to see someone you love excel at something they love doing.
2. What are the pros and cons of working with a family member?
Jean: Knowing that we are both putting in 100% effort in steering the boat in the right direction is a bonus. Being surrounded by positive energy and knowing that you have a responsible workforce is another plus. Personally, I truly do not see any cons in working with a family member, and this is something I am grateful for because I have witnessed relations at work go sour between family members. What’s important is to be very disciplined and to understand that we are not all made equal – we each have our own unique strengths and weaknesses, and together, these add value to the organisation.
Jessica: You are able to better understand their point of view because you know the other so well that you sometimes even anticipate their reactions or opinions to things. Having a natural love for one’s father makes it easy to work alongside him; there are no political or power struggles. This, in turn, helps me to focus on my job. I do not want to disappoint him.
On the flipside, seeing my father at home tends to remind me of work. We do however try to leave our work in the office and return to our father-daughter relationship at home.
3. What’s one thing you found out about her that you never saw until you began working together?
Jean: I have always known that Jessica is responsible. I am very happy when important customers say positive things about her. She somehow manages to win their hearts very naturally and they respect her opinions. It is refreshing and reassuring to see her being easily accepted and respected. I believe in her.
4. What are the rules of running a successful family business while having a strong family relationship?
Jean: Mutual respect, understanding and lots of love and acceptance of each other’s strengths and weaknesses; we are not replicas of each other.
Jessica: You need to give each other space to do their job. I am very thankful that my father does not micro-manage me. That would drive me crazy. It is extremely important to leave emotions out and remain objective and professional when it comes to anything work related.
5. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve picked up from your dad/daughter?
Jean: I have learned to be a better listener and to be more open to change in certain areas.
Jessica: To always be prepared. He taught me to anticipate the other person’s next move so you can have a ready response and not be caught off guard. This is a quality that is very relevant to everything we do.