If there are secrets to growing a company to a conglomerate, Filinvest Group chair emeritus Andrew L. Gotianun Sr. is more than willing to share with second and third generation Filipino-Chinese entrepreneurs.
In one of his rare forum appearances, obliging to sit in the panel during the Anvil Business Club gathering with his son, Jonathan T. Gotianun and daughter, Josephine Gotianun Yap, Andrew Sr., 88, gamely answered questions from the audience.
He revealed that it is not just about hard work but also the right attitude that makes one succeed in life and business.
“Be fair in all your dealings, may it be in your family or in your business. At the end of it all, what matters is not how much money you make but how honest you are,” shares Gotianun Sr.
Long before there was talk about breaking the glass ceiling in the workplace, Gotianun believed as early as the 1950s hat women deserve a place in the boardroom.
Breaking the tradition of the time that only sons or males in the family take precedence, Andrew Sr. emphasized that women deserve to be treated equally with men and that they should be provided all the opportunities in life.
“Do things fairly especially with your children. Girls deserve equal opportunities especially in getting educated as well as equal sharing in business,” he says.
He admits that his wife, Mercedes, is the one who implements and executes the business plans with cunning and efficiency.
She did it while raising their family.
“It was by accident that our mother got involved in the business, she adamantly pitched in for a resigned cashier.
Since then, there was no turning back for her,” Josephine Gotianun Yap explains.
Andrew Sr. said that he did not hold back his wife from dabbling in the business and even recognized her potential.
“I am the dreamer,” Andrew Sr. says. “She executes my ideas and made those dreams a reality,” pertaining to his entrepreneurial ideas then that built the Filinvest Group.
Still the visionary, Andrew Sr. does not get tired of seeking new business opportunities especially with the power of the Internet.
Admittedly now more laidback and relaxed, Andrew Sr. might have passed on the baton to the next generation of Gotianuns, but he still dabbles in researching new business frontiers that allows them to take on diverse business interests.
“He uses the Internet to research a certain business that he is interested in,” Josephine adds. “And he prints our tons of research and makes us read them. My father does not get tired of doing research.”
The Gotianuns also saw potential business opportunities during their trips here and abroad.
Andrew Sr. and Mercedes personally did their research on their first bank by interviewing small bank owners in the United States.
They followed their business models and fine-tuned them to fit the Philippine setting. Their trips to Florida in the mid-1960s gave them ideas about guarded subdivisions for the middle class.
The ideas were revolutionary then but are commonplace now as the multi-billion-peso Filinvest group continues to grow.
Andrew Sr. thus has no regrets defying the norms of his time and is passing on this spirit of a maverick to the next generation.