7 Inspirational Quotes from Philippines’ Top Entrepreneurs

#1 Henry Sy, Sr., Past Chairman of SM Investment Corporation

Henry Sy Sr. was a Chinese-Filipino business magnate and philanthropist known for his involvement in the Philippines' retail industry. A man with few words but bold vision, he transformed Shoemart, from a humble shoe store in 1958, into SM, now a vast business empire owner with interests and presence in retail, banking, and property. The entrepreneur also established the SM Foundation Inc. in 1993 which channels his advocacies in education through college scholarships, health through medical missions, and livelihood through farmer training programs.

Upon his death in January 2019, his estimated net worth amounted to US$19 billion, making him the 53rd-richest person in the world.

#2 Aftab Ahmed, CEO of Citibank Philippines

As CEO for the largest foreign bank in the Philippines, Aftab Ahmed is responsible for one of the very successful Citi Franchises in Asia and leads a team of more than 8,000 banking professionals. According to the CEO, “In an ever-changing world, it is imperative to remain relevant. To achieve this objective, you need to have high-level curiosity and a strong interest in everything that surrounds you. It is this thought process coupled with Citi’s client centricity that has kept Citi Philippines at the forefront in terms of delivering world class financial products and services.”

Aftab believes that leaders need to be versatile, agile, and flexible to be able to effectively address different business requirements and situations. He advices, “To remain relevant, learn from the past, live in the present with an eye on the future. This will allow you to grow personally and professionally and will better position you to handle change”.

#3 Dr. Andrew L. Tan, Chairman of Megaworld Corporation

The story of Dr. Andrew Tan, Founder and Chairman of Megaworld Corporation, is that of the ongoing pursuit of excellence. His humble beginnings instilled in him the values of discipline, perseverance and hard work that would help propel him to the top. Success did not come easy back then when he was still an aspiring entrepreneur, but he never gave up in spite of the obstacles he faced. He saw his early failures as blessings and even lessons that would teach him to try harder the second and even third time around. Making his first million at 27 years old marked a turning point in the entrepreneur’s business career. It was then when he began to embrace a business philosophy that was the heart of simplicity itself: Just keep working and investing whatever profit one makes in a new business. That way, one can generate more jobs and help the country’s economy grow.

Today, Megaworld is the leading developer of townships and integrated lifestyle communities which spans over 4,000 hectares across Philippines, and has a 5,000-strong workforce and a market capitalization of around US$3 billion. Despite his success, Dr. Tan continues to follow a mantra of hard work, the same way he did when he started his business career four decades ago.

#4 Alberto Emilio V. Ramos, Director and President of China Bank Savings

Mr. Ramos has been serving as Director and President of China Bank Savings (CBS) since 2011. Close colleagues describe Mr. Ramos as a man who has a keen eye for spotting openings to do business. According to the entrepreneur, “Entrepreneurship is the ability to spot opportunities in the challenges that life throws at us. When you see an opening for growth, you must be relentless and resolute in pursuing the opportunity.” Having been in sales himself, Mr. Ramos challenges managers to think on their feet, and be nimble and quick to market. This is how CBS has evolved itself over the past six years from a small thrift bank to a nationwide community bank servicing a diverse clientele.

#5 Stephen James Reilly, COO of Resorts World Manila

Born in 1966 in England, Stephen “Steve” Reilly began his foray into Asia in 1995 when he joined Genting Hong Kong where he served as Director of Corporate Surveillance. Currently he is the Chief Operating Officer of Resorts World Manila (RWM), a post he has held since 2010. Working in the Philippines has heightened Steve’s instincts for social justice and responsibility. Having grown up in a country of relative prosperity that had functioning safety nets for its less fortunate members of society, Steve saw an opportunity for corporations to help fill social gaps in the Philippines.

Reilly believed that large, successful corporations have a lot of opportunity to create a huge positive impact on many lives, and it is just a matter of finding how their CSR programmes can be done sustainably. RWM’s advocacies lean towards promoting Philippine culture and tourism, creating job opportunities for less fortunate individuals through training and employment, nurturing the arts, and environmental protectionism.

“I think you’ve got to have something you truly believe in. There has to be a goal, and that goal can’t always be just about the resort or yourself. You have to look outside as well as in. What is our purpose and how do we achieve that?” continued Steve. “CSR is something which is close to my heart, and I think I’ve made that the same for many, many others throughout the company.”

#6 Necisto U. Sytengco, Chairman of SBS Philippines Corporation

Filipino tycoon, Mr. Necisto U. Sytengco has been an exemplar of excellence in his long career in enterprise building. He is the founder of SBS Philippines Corporation, a chemical trading business he founded in the 1970s. Currently, the Company has a present market capitalisation of approximately US $223 million and distributes more than 3,000 products warehoused in five locations around Metro Manila, serving well over a thousand companies and individuals.

Sytengco believes that there are solutions to all problems, and he encourages constant and rapid improvement. According to him, “In a world wherein everything is fast-paced being just in time is not enough. There is a need, to accelerate our transformation towards the future so that we can reach new heights.”

In 2018, the entrepreneur entered the list of Forbes magazine's richest people in the Philippines for the first time. The magazine estimated his net worth at $180 million, making him the 41st richest man in the country.

#7 Edgar Injap Sia II, Chairman of DoubleDragon Properties Corporation

Edgar J. Sia II made waves in the local fast food industry in the mid-to-late 2000s with his brainchild, Mang Inasal, which he started in 2003 in Iloilo City. The restaurant gained popularity for its tender and tasty barbecued chicken paired with “unlimited” servings of rice, a combination made more irresistible by its wallet-friendly price. The home-grown fast food giant Jollibee Foods Corp. bought a 70% stake in the owner and operator of Mang Inasal for P3 billion in late 2010. The following year, Mr. Sia landed on Forbes magazine’s 2011 list of the 40th richest persons in the Philippines. At age 34, he was the youngest billionaire in Philippines.

As a self-made new generation entrepreneur, Injap is a proof that despite today’s highly competitive business environment where most traditional industries like fast-food or real estate are already dominated by the old giant players for many decades, one can still successfully breakthrough if one will strive very hard, dream big, and execute their set goal with intense passion.