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Learning can be a family affair

Steisel family

SCHUMACHER student Pauline Steisel loved coming to college so much – she invited her family join her.

Pauline, 23, is from the small village of Lubbeek, in Belgium, and is just finishing her MA Ecological Design Thinking.

Her four uncles and her father all run separate businesses but they are in the unique position of living on a large estate within 1km of each other.  And they all share the same ambition of doing work that respects people and planet.

“Pauline has been so passionate talking about Schumacher that we felt we had to come and see it,” said her uncle Denis Steisel.   “I was interested to know if life can be more than an excel spread sheet.”

So they all signed up for the recent sold-out short course in Holistic Business led by Jenny Mackewn.  The course shows how it is possible to transform organisations in to ethical purpose-led enterprises and it is also an exploration of holistic economics.

Pauline’s family run a range of different businesses; her uncle Nicolas, is co-founder of EXKi a chain of healthy fast food restaurants which has over 80 outlets in six countries including the US which has grown from a handful of staff to over 1,400 people; her uncle Cedric provides IT consultancy for a clothing company.

Although they all live so closely together, the commitments of daily life mean that they often are not able to spend much time together. Olivier, Pauline’s father, who runs an industrial company making plastic bags, appreciated the social as well as the professional benefits of the Schumacher experience.

“It’s very important to me to be close to my daughter and brothers," he said.  "I lived abroad for some time and so now I want more contact.  We are a very close family.”

As well as taking the course to develop their own businesses the family hope to find a way of working together and a means of making their 25 hectare estate fit for the future and also beneficial for the surrounding community.

“We wanted to do something together – something sustainable,” added Olivier. We live in a beautiful place and it’s important that we make it sustainable.”
Pauline said she appreciated the special opportunity for them all to spend time together.

“It was so great to have my family here.  I think what they most loved is the community, everyone is so nice.

“They really like the energy of the place – they found it incredible.  I think it was great for them to follow the course all together.  It’s helping us answer questions of how we can evolve in the 21st century.”

Pictured left to right : Denis, Nicolas de Moreau, Nicolas, Pauline, Cedric and Olivier Steisel.