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Recognizing 100 CEOs & C-level Executives
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Nancy Drozdow

Founder and Principal

CFAR, The Center for Applied Research, Inc.

Location: Philadelphia, PA

Founded: 1987

Industry: Consulting

Nancy Drozdow is founder and principal at CFAR, The Center for Applied Research Inc., but she’s already looking ahead to what the future may hold for the organization.

“My greatest leadership lesson is learning to enable my next generation of leaders in the field and in my firm, without pulling back or acting on my ‘having second thoughts,’” she said. “Succession is a long process … On balance, it is tremendously rewarding, though the journey is not easy.”

CFAR is a private management consulting firm with close ties to the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. The firm advises leaders and boards on complex organizational issues with the goal of helping businesses to operate meaningfully, profitably and with impact.

Prior to spinning out as a private company, CFAR was the only multidisciplinary applied research center within the Wharton School, created in the late ’70s to serve as a consulting incubator for ideas developed at the school.

While at Wharton, Drozdow was among the leaders who organized the work of practitioners, researchers and academics into the development of a new field, the family enterprise, which is now a globally recognized discipline in the best academic institutions.

Beyond beginning the study of family firms inside the Wharton Center, Drozdow was among the founding members and a founding board member of the Family Firm Institute. The organization was created to study and help family-owned organizations that dominate the global landscape of business and philanthropy.

“Nancy is a natural leader who makes things happen without fanfare, for the betterment of clients, colleagues and communities,” her team said. “Nancy is a clear thinker who puts ideas into action through not only her own but coalescing others’ commitment to bringing their best to their work.”

Drozdow has also been published in several publications, including Sloan Management Review, Business Week, CEO Magazine, Family Business Magazine, The Journal of Management Consulting and Family Business Review. She has been quoted in The New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Wall Street Journal and Forbes Magazine.

Drozdow is a regular speaker at numerous conferences on topics such as strategy, continuity and leadership, especially for privately held and familyrun organizations.

“Of her professional accomplishments, Nancy is most proud of the continuing success of CFAR and the development of its people, who exemplify the values and principles that matter most to her, and who deliver value to clients with much at stake and who in turn do great things,” her team said.

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Did you know?

Nancy has recently become an avid hiker and just returned from hiking the trails of Utah— Moab, Arches, Canyonlands. This was among her most physically challenging endeavors— outside her comfort zone!

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