First some background:
My parents are managing (CEO and CFO) a company of 400 employees. They have started it ages ago and they are its owners. It is not a huge multinational corporation, but it is relatively well known among people in the industry due to its wide presence and some interesting approaches. Because of the ownership and leadership structure my surname became quite identifiable in the business. In some instances this is the case also abroad (export accounts for most of the sales).
I had been educated to work in the same industry (several courses, certificates and an advanced degree). After completing grad school I have been employed there for three years in a non-executive position. One of the longterm goals is that I take the lead of the firm and continue the family business.
However, I have decided to leave the firm and to look for a new job to spend at least 5 years in other companies in the industry. There are many reasons for that, but just to name a few:
- To gain work experience in some other company and another country. This should not read as “copy their ideas and steal customers”.
- To expand my network.
- To escape a work environment that has not been pleasant and not stimulating for me: despite my down to earth behavior and professionalism, my colleagues see me as a second CEO and behave to me as I am their manager (which I am not) and in the discussions they have a pretty distant and cold attitude, since they have a wrong impression that I will give my opinion to managers about their performance. Further, even my manager does not see me as his subordinate and refrains from giving me critical feedback. I guess this is unavoidable, and I believe it will not affect me once I reach a managing position.
There are many companies in this industry, which in my case I can classify into the following:
- A. Companies that are directly competing with mine, and it is likely that they will reject me for fearing industrial espionage or they will find it as a prank that a guy like me wants to do such move.
- B. The ones that are in the same business, but they are not directly competing (different geographic area or different customer segment).
My goal is to apply to companies in the B group, but I am concerned that my “pedigree” would hurt my application. I am not saying that they would necessarily reject me, but it would certainly be an interesting point they would consider when hiring. Further, if they hire me, it will also be important later when they will manage me (perhaps someone will consider excluding me from some R&D projects). Certainly, there are also possibilities to leverage my background (for example if they consider establishing a collaboration with my firm, or the fact that I know very well how such a firm operates), but I assume it’s rather a disadvantage.
I decomposed the companies in the group B into:
- B1. Companies where managers know me from before or would easily realize that my family owns a similar company, so nothing to conceal here.
- B2. Where my name and work experience would not be connected to this fact and would treat me just like any other candidate (which I prefer).
I don’t have an urge to mention this fact and at the time of the interview with B2 companies this background would not be known, but it might become evident after working there for some time and therefore seen differently. Further, during the interview they will probably ask me why I am leaving a situation of having a fine job in a fine company, and my sole reason is to gain a diverse experience that one day will help me to lead my own firm.
Should I mention right away to such companies that my family owns a potentially competing firm? If yes, how can I convince them that I am not there to steal their knowledge, clients, product ideas, and employees?