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8990 Holdings’ JJ Atencio: ‘I’m not a business graduate’

JJ Atencio, president and chief executive officer of 8990 Holdings Inc. Philstar.com/Efigenio Toledo IV

MANILA, Philippines - JJ Atencio, the president and chief executive officer of mass housing developer 8990 Holdings Inc., recently told Philstar.com in an interview while he was not a business graduate, he was able to paddle on his own to be where he is right now.

Other excerpts from the interview:

Describe your typical day.

My typical day starts early. Actually, the job of a CEO is 24/7. I start by answering email in the morning when I wake up at about 6 a.m. and then at the office by about 9 a.m.

What people don’t realize about this business is that it’s actually four or five businesses rolled up into one.

What has been your biggest achievement so far?

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Personally, that I celebrated my 53rd birthday and I haven’t died yet. (laughs)

But seriously, I think my biggest achievement is joining a company when it was small. At that time when I became a partner of 8990, we were doing maybe P180 million in gross revenues. So, joining a small company and becoming the CEO and making it grow into what it is today – a P10-billion company in gross revenues in 10 years – I think that’s something that I’m particularly happy about. I think I’m particularly privileged to have been part of the growth process of the company.

I find it most meaningful because number one, I’m not a business graduate; number two, I do not have a masters degree in business, and yet I was able to paddle on my own through research, experiential knowledge and reflection. I was then able to move myself into becoming a business executive.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced so far?

The biggest challenge was how to stand on a wakeboard, I think. (laughs)

I think the greatest challenge always is to find out what you really want and putting your efforts and energies into that and forsaking everything else. Some people may not like to do that actually.

Who are your influences?

First, my parents. My father was a judge and if there’s anything he has taught me, it is to live life with integrity. I remember him saying that number one, at the end of the day when you die, people will not remember how successful you were or how much money you made. When you die, they will talk about how good you were, how many you have helped, how generous you were with your talents, and how many people you’ve made happy.

From my mother, I actually learned the value of hard work and to actually emphasize service and helping others. And I think that’s one of the things I brought into the company.

What motivates JJ Atencio?

What motivates me to wake up every day is I think the process of making things better. In the office, I actually like looking at the same thing over and over again to find out if things can get better.

Another thing that motivates me is bringing my organization to better and greater heights every day.

Learn more about Atencio and 8990 by watching the full interview and his series of personal finance tips at www.philstar.com.

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