A World of Family Business

PROVO, Utah – Feb 01, 2021 – The career of Gibb Dyer has been one full of interesting twists and turns. From the red-brick streets of Massachusetts, along the deserts of Africa, and even to the next door of the lead singer of Led Zeppelin, Dyer has seen and learned much. Throughout all of his world travels, Dyer, the O. Leslie Stone Professor of Entrepreneurship at the BYU Marriott School of Business, teaches people how to create and build family businesses.

Dyer's focus on family businesses is an extension of his own family’s legacy. His father, William Dyer, a former dean of BYU Marriott, helped develop the human resources emphasis within the school’s MBA program. “Recently, The Princeton Review ranked our MBA emphasis in human resources number one in the country,” Dyer says. “Seeing a program that my father created become nationally recognized is exciting.”

However, despite his family legacy, when Dyer began his educational journey, he wasn’t sure that he wanted to focus his education on business. After earning his undergraduate degree in psychology from BYU, Dyer decided to stay at BYU and earn his JD-MBA. After his first year in the program, Dyer found that he loved his MBA classes so much that he decided to focus his education solely on business and earn only his MBA degree. “Making that switch appealed to me because there are many practical problems in the world that can be solved through the application of business knowledge,” he says.

Dyer’s interest in business motivated him to continue his education and earn his PhD at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It was during an otherwise routine lunch break that Dyer’s interest in family businesses was born. “I had lunch with one of my professors who was a world-renowned consultant, and he asked me what I knew about family businesses,” recalls Dyer. “At the time I knew very little, but he invited me to complete some research with some of his clients who owned family businesses.

“He and I met with a few families from countries in South America, one from Canada, and a few from the United States, and I spent three days listening to issues that, to that point, I'd never heard throughout my academic career,” he continues. “I was interested in learning about these family conflicts such as the problem of passing business ownership down to the next generation, so I decided to focus my research on family businesses.”

Since deciding to focus his research on these types of businesses, Dyer has built a career of teaching and learning that has taken him around the world. One such experience led him across the African continent. “My colleagues and I went to South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia, and Swaziland,” he says. “While there, we learned about the economies, family dynamics, and poverty rates of these countries. I gained unique insights about the future of the economies in those countries because of my research on family dynamics and their impact on a country’s economic success.”

Dyer also had the opportunity to be a visiting professor in Barcelona, Spain, as well as a visiting scholar at the University of Bath in England. When he wasn’t teaching students, Dyer was brushing shoulders with rock ’n’ roll royalty. “While I was in England, my next-door neighbor was Robert Plant, the lead singer of the famous rock band Led Zeppelin,” he says. “He had a music studio in the neighborhood, so my daughters got to meet him and take pictures with him.”

Even though Dyer has travelled the world and his research has been honored in prestigious publications, he considers his proudest accomplishment to be the achievements of his students. “I've seen my students go on to earn PhDs or go into business and be successful in their careers. I've been around long enough to see them become full professors and vice presidents of human resources and other top positions.”

Dyer also enjoys seeing his students find success in their personal lives and bring joy to their families. “I had a wonderful student from Mexico who brought his family to meet me after graduation. He brought them to my office, and they didn’t speak any English, but I could see how much they loved him and how proud they were of him. I loved seeing this incredible family support their son at BYU,” he says. “Moments like that are rewarding for me as a professor.”

Gibb Dyer
Gibb Dyer
Gibb Dyer and his wife at Victoria Falls
Dyer and his wife, Theresa, at Victoria Falls in Zambia. Photo courtesy of Gibb Dyer
Gibb Dyer and his extended family
Gibb Dyer and his family. Photo courtesy of Gibb Dyer.

Media Contact: Chad Little: (801) 422-1512
Writer: Kenna Pierce