Sunday Lifestyle

Tycoons’ successors: In their fathers’ footsteps

WILL SOON FLOURISH - Wilson Lee Flores - The Philippine Star
Tycoonsâ successors: In their fathersâ footsteps

In 2012, when the late San Miguel Corp. (SMC) chairman Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr. gave this writer an exclusive interview, I asked: “What was the worst crisis in your life losing your dad, your exile after the 1986 EDSA uprising or others? And why?”

Cojuangco replied: “Losing my father was the worst crisis in my life, especially since it happened at an early age in my life. I’m his eldest child and I was 15 years old when my father died. It’s really different when you have a father as a youth. There are no real worries because you always know there’s somebody you and your whole family can depend on. When our father died, it was like suddenly I woke up and my whole life had changed.”

Tycoons who lost their fathers in their youth

Not a few of the world’s achievers lost their fathers early in life like Cojuangco. There’s the well-known saga of John Gokongwei Jr.’s dad dying when John Jr. was 13 and the family’s business was wiped out. Both followed in their businessmen fathers’ footsteps and thrived.

Some remarkable tycoons who didn’t have their biological dads in their lives: the world’s No. 1 wealthiest billionaire Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com, the late Apple founder Steve Jobs, and the world’s No. 5 richest billionaire and Oracle founder Larry Ellison. They achieved great successes in totally different fields from those of their dads.

Successors who uphold their fathers’ legacies

What about our business leaders or successors? How are they following in their fathers’ footsteps, especially now with a global crisis but with the Philippines still having positive socio-economic and demographic fundamentals? Here are some filial sons and daughters:

Tessie Sy Coson & Hans Sy

Following in the paths trailblazed by their late father SM/BDO founder and Chinabank boss Henry Sy, Sr., the hardworking and humble Teresita “Tessie” Sy Coson, Hans T. Sy, Elizabeth, Henry Jr., Herbert and Harley are carrying on very well his legacy both in business and in philanthropy. They are a cohesive team that meets weekly. To help the Philippines’ fight against COVID-19, SM Group donated P170 million worth of medical supplies to hospitals.

In business, among their moves under the emerging “new normal,” SM Prime Holdings, Inc. is allocating P100 million to boost their e-commerce.

In August this year, Hans Sy will lead in the 100th anniversary celebration of Chinabank with the completed restoration of its elegant, historic former headquarters building in Binondo, Manila as a showcase of heritage preservation according to SVP Alex C. Escucha.

Chinabank was founded in 1920 by then Philippine “Lumber King” Dee C. Chuan, who followed in the footsteps of his own father, lumber entrepreneur Calixto Dyyco, and Dee’s grand-uncle, 19th century lumber tycoon Dy Han Kia. Calixto Dyyco.

Jaime Augusto & Fernando Zobel de Ayala

They recently announced that Ayala Group — led by its healthcare unit Ayala Healthcare Holdings, Inc. (AC Health) — will build four bio-safety level 2 laboratories and help three existing laboratories in Makati, Cebu, and Davao to support the national government’s goal of conducting 50,000 COVID-19 daily tests this June. Their Bank of Philippine Islands (BPI) is also assisting MSMEs, through the planned issuance of the country’s first “COVID Action Response” Bonds (CARE Bonds).

Enrique Razon Jr.

The late port operator Enrique M. Razon’s son and heir Enrique “Ricky” K. Razon Jr. has grown International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) into a multinational giant. In 2003, after donating P50 million to De La Salle University, a building was named the “Enrique M. Razon Sports Center” after his father. Ricky Razon also owns Solaire Resort & Casino.

Despite the global pandemic crisis, Razon said he has confidence in the Philippine economic future and his companies will continue to look for business opportunities. His listed casino operator Bloomberry Resorts Corp. will expand in Quezon City with Solaire North, which may open 2022 or 2023.

Lance Gokongwei

Lance, his uncle James Go, siblings and cousins have followed in the formidable footsteps of his late father JG Summit Holdings, Inc. founder John Gokongwei Jr. in business and philanthropy. In response to COVID-19, the Gokongwei Brothers Foundation has donated P100 million in medical supplies for hospitals and frontliners.

Kevin Tan (with dad Andrew Tan)

Having been a “rags-to-riches” entrepreneur whose humble beginnings steeled his character and work ethic, Andrew Tan wisely allowed his then top executive, Ateneo business school professor and family business guru Enrique “Eric” M. Soriano III, to interview his eldest son Kevin as a job applicant (to Soriano’s surprise) and to let Kevin work under Soriano without any special treatment. After Kevin rose through the ranks and proved himself, in 2018 he became chief executive officer (CEO) of Alliance Global Group, Inc.

During this pandemic, Alliance Global (which includes Megaworld, Emperador and McDonalds Phils.) spent nearly P1 billion for feeding programs and buying personal protective equipment for COVID-19 frontliners. Megaworld has also donated four COVID-19 testing laboratories to Philippine Red Cross (PRC).

Paolo, Mark & Camille Villar

The children of realty billionaire and former Senate President Manny B. Villar have successfully followed in his footsteps — in business for Paolo Villar; in politics for Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Mark Villar and Congresswoman Camille Villar. To help revive the economy, Camille Villar is urging support for micro-, small- and medium-scale enterprises (MSMEs) and buying of local products.

DPWH and Villar Group of Companies have completed the conversion of shipping containers into 120 mobile rooms as additional Covid-19 isolation health facilities or alternative living quarters to temporarily house medical doctors and staff on duty at hospitals, or at mega quarantine facilities, operating at Philippine International Convention Center, World Trade Center and Rizal Memorial Coliseum.

Michael Tan & Lucio Tan III

LT Group founder, PNB/PAL/Tanduay boss and FFCCCII chairman Emeritus Lucio C. Tan trained his sons — LT Group, Inc. president Michael G. Tan and the late Lucio “Bong” Tan, Jr. — well. Also recently joining the family business is Mike’s nephew and Bong’s son, Lucio Tan III, who is new president of Tanduay Distillers, Inc. and also took over some directorships of his late father.

Following in his dad’s footsteps in philanthropy, Mike Tan is now also one of the top vice presidents of the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce & Industry, Inc. (FFCCCII), which along with 10 other Filipino Chinese groups recently established the “Filipino Chinese Community Calamity Fund (FCCCF) to raise P300 million in donations for anti-COVID-19 medical supplies and food charities nationwide.  FCCCF recently donated a COVID-19 testing lab to Philippine Red Cross led by chairman Richard Gordon; Mike Tan, another FFCCCII VP Cecilio VP and executive director Nelson Guevarra turned over the check donation.


Thanks for feedback at [email protected]! Follow @wilsonleeflores on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. Read also https://investment.fwd.com.ph/experts/asia-s-business-leaders-and-what-we-can-learn-from-them





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