NextGen’s wisdom on the pandemic normal

AS EASY AS ABC - Atty. Alex B. Cabrera - The Philippine Star

In the midst of a mad rush to make their businesses adapt to pandemic realities, sincerity and kindness never run out of style. And when you combine that with a serious mind for business handed down through genes, and generations, you form the figures of our NextGen leaders coming into their own, and what a time to do so.

During PwC Philippines’ NextGen Club forum held last week, fellow NextGen leaders in the audience listened to the panelists who tackled questions on leadership styles, innovations they brought to life during the pandemic, how they wield their power to make a difference, and their journey to their personal legacy. Here is a selection of lessons we picked up from these brilliant NextGen leaders.

Raymond Rufino (NEO Group)

He is a second-generation leader of NEO group (previously known as NET group), has so far built and manages seven intelligent buildings in BGC. He swears that the pandemic has saved him five years’ worth of time in adapting innovations and new technology in their real estate business. While he has tried to go paperless for years (to which many of us can relate), it only took one crisis to get everybody in the organization to buy into this direction.

He recognizes his father Charlie Rufino as his mentor, but his journey is however now focused on making a valuable contribution to the transformation of the real estate industry from “grey to green”: environment-friendly development that addresses the negative impact of greenhouse gas emissions, and projects that regenerate the planet.

He believes that to have success, one’s plans should be aligned with what one is passionate about. However, before young leaders set their sights on big dreams, he advises that they should focus on the “now” by investing in themselves. He suggests asking oneself: “Am I the best leader that I can be? Do I have the skills, empathy, experience and traits to achieve what I want to achieve?”

He shared his best lesson from this pandemic, and it is quite a refreshing one: Manage your energy. Choose only what gives you positive energy and whatever is negative must be released.

Vanessa Tanco (iAcademy)

She is the CEO of the iAcademy, an institution that offers specialized programs in game development, business management, and liberal arts and design, and which has recently been awarded as the Most Innovative Education Provider from UK-based publications company Global Brands along with other top-tier schools including Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Nanyang Technological University. In 2020, iAcademy also launched an accountancy school, in partnership with PwC Philippines.

She acknowledges her father, Eusebio Tanco as the visionary who makes deals happen while she humbly labels herself as the operations-type of a person who immerses in day-to-day details of the business. What she did not say is that one cannot survive without the other.

While many educational institutions struggled with online classes at the onset of the pandemic (and still does), iAcademy, according to Vanessa, was able to shift smoothly to a virtual format as they have utilized various online platforms and tools even before the pandemic started.

She prides herself on being able to offer low-cost quality education in the Philippines, removing the need for Filipino students to go out of the country to be trained on these specialized courses. She also uses iAcademy to offer scholarships to deserving students without the means to pay for college, and even provides their scholars allowances; and made free online courses available during the pandemic.

She learned of communicating with clarity and empathy during the pandemic, and that communication should be constant, even repeated. People should be assured that the company has their best interest, to relieve them from pressure and confusion as much as possible.

Jason Gaisano (Core Capital)

Jason of the Gaisano retail group is a fourth-generation family entrepreneur who found great value in being employed in an unrelated company, having four different bosses before venturing into the family business. He was mentored by both his dad Edward Gaisano and his uncle, Jack Gaisano.

He co-founded Core Capital that invested in startups and partnered with tech companies to solve logistic and e-commerce issues. He intimated that adoption of technology in the group had been slow but when the older generations saw the revenue percentage coming from online sales, they learned to accept technology.

He is committed to investing in entrepreneurs and making them earn more money than those that invest in them. He said he is not sentimental about businesses but he, along with his siblings, makes sure that the businesses they engage in would be ready for future generations to diversify.

Jason’s investments of choice are in tech education and healthcare because of their social impact. He thinks creating more jobs in the country is better than charity, even as he expresses a desire to explore business in foreign markets.

He shares that the best lesson he learned during the pandemic is to have a better sense of appreciation for people on ground – their store employees, Grab drivers, etc. – as we wouldn’t have survived without them.

Now my readers, do you agree that with this kind of NextGen leaders, the future of the country will be in good hands? Well, these young leaders all agree that you don’t have to be in government to help the country.

* * *

Alexander B. Cabrera is the chairman and senior partner of Isla Lipana & Co./PwC Philippines. He is the Chairman of the Integrity Initiative, Inc. (II, Inc.), a non-profit organization that promotes common ethical and acceptable integrity standards. Email your comments and questions to [email protected]. This content is for general information purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional advisors.

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