Filipino tycoon Henry Sy

Why is Henry Sy so successful and why does he seem to have a Midas touch?   Simple answer: hard work, integrity, passion for the things he does, and unbridled optimism about the future of this country.   So for those who have given up on this country, these are the lessons to learn from Sy as retold by his eldest, Teresita Sy, chair of Banco de Oro and president of Shoemart Inc.

Here is Tessie on her father:  

1. Strive to be a leader in your chosen field. My dad has big and bold visions and dreams. Being a leader means being different, taking bold steps, and going to unexplore places. Leadership is a skill and process, which like other skills can be learned through practice. Leadership is being simple and driven. Being a leader means being a self-starter, not waiting for motivation from others. It also means knowing and focusing on one’s target, and pushing oneself beyond one’s comfort zone.

2. Be a person of integrity. We have to be trustworthy in our undertakings, be fair and credible. And put a lot of weight in our commitments and responsibilities. 

3. Have a long-term vision and strategy. Our vision has to be wide-angled, making us able to see the big picture as well as the small things. My dad thinks long term, investing for the future and seeking long-term relationships in business. 

4. Focus. It would mean concentrating and prioritizing. In business, we have to prioritize our goals and be selective. Once we have identified our goals, we can concentrate on our areas of strength—developing them with our time, energy, and resources. My father concentrated on four main categories in business—retail, shopping centers, banking and leisure property development. He focused on integrating them to add value to each other, create multiplier effects, and provide synergy to the group. He taught us that as our business grows, we also have to go back to basics and concentrate our resources in areas wherein we have a competitive advantage. 

5. My dad has always liked to explore new ideas. He traveled a lot when he was younger, always looking for new ideas and new ways of doing things. He made his first million after a trip abroad wherein he was able to observe new trends in merchandising and new concepts in stores. 

6. Have a great passion to achieve. Your desires determine your destiny. The stronger your willpower to achieve, the greater is your potential. If you follow your passion, you become a more dedicated and productive person. 

7. Work hard. My dad used to tell us that there is no substitute for hard work. Long before people thought 24/7, he used to work 14 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

8. Be patient and persevere. My dad always reminded us that there is no such thing as an overnight success or easy money. If it does happen, then it could be luck. 

Even if one gets lucky, he has to work hard to sustain it. Success is not just good luck. It is a combination of hard work, opportunity, readiness and timing. My father took a lot of risks, and made mistakes too. He kept on moving and did not quit. 

9. Recognize opportunity. It is one thing to see opportunity. It is another to do something about it. When opportunity comes, you should be ready to react. Otherwise, it goes to someone else. Opportunity does not always come knocking. You’ve got to go out and look for it. Pick the best opportunity you see and take it as far as you can. Don’t stop until you have done everything you can do to make it happen. 

10. Try to be optimistic. Optimism is difficult in the Philippines. Looking back at my dad’s business career, however, there were major crisis in the country during SM’s key periods of growth. 

11. Be confident. A positive attitude comes with confidence. It is more than inspiration. If you believe you can, you can. Life is not easy for any one of us. We must have the perseverance and above all the confidence in ourselves. You’ve got to go out and look for it. Take stock of your assets, talents, and resources. Doing it will give you an idea of your potentials. We must believe we are gifted for something, recognize that gift, and use it to attain our goals. 

12. Be disciplined. My father is disciplined in both his personal and business life. When he undertakes something, he gives it his all. Second best does not exist. My dad advocates a culture that abhors waste. He puts a big premium on saving, because of the need to be prepared for all contingencies in business, politics and one’s personal life.  

13. Build your organization. Having a sound and dynamic organization is the ultimate competitive advantage. 

14. Make it your mission to provide employment. 

15. Social responsibility is important. My father has made it a point to show appreciation for good things that have come his way by giving back to the community through the SM Foundation. 

16. Henry Sy wants his family to remain an important part of his business.

Singapore's appetite for Philippine stock will be tested when ethnic Chinese retail taipan Henry Sy launches a roadshow of his soon-to-be-listed holding company next week.

The roadshow is part of Mr Sy's marketing efforts to pique investors' interest in SM Investment Corp's (SMIC) initial public offer (IPO). SMIC's subsidiaries include listed mall operator SM Prime Holdings and property developer SM Development Corp.

Mr Sy owns 23 shopping malls nationwide, which account for half of the retail market, and 53 per cent of total gross floor area of all malls in the country.

He has tapped Macquarie Securities (Asia) Pte Ltd, the Singaporean securities unit of Australia's Macquarie banking group, as international lead manager of his company's IPO.

Based on its prospectus, SMIC's IPO involves the sale of between 75 million and 140 million shares, making it the Philippines' largest stock offering this year.

The company has earmarked 65 per cent of the shares, priced at between 230 and 300 pesos apiece, for sale to foreign investors, with the rest for the local market. It expects its IPO to raise between 12.94 billion and 32.5 billion pesos in gross proceeds, the bulk of which will bankroll the company's expansion, both locally and abroad.

Mr Sy owns two malls in Xiamen, China, and he plans to put up two more - in Fupu, north of Xiamen, and Chengdou in the Sichuan province. He is also eyeing similar malls in Indonesia, India and Vietnam, in partnership with other foreign companies.

In the Philippines, the taipan intends to build four more shopping malls estimated to cost 5 billion pesos. He will also pursue the completion of what would be Asia's largest mall - the Mall of Asia along Manila's Roxas boulevard.

In addition to malls, SMIC will also embark on other projects related to property development, tourism and leisure. Besides Singapore, SMIC will also hold IPO roadshows in Hong Kong, Frankfurt, Paris, London, Edinburgh, the United States and other offshore capital markets.

The company said it has the option to increase the size of the offer, but this will depend on 'favourable market conditions and brisk investor demand'. SMIC is slated for listing on March 22 on the Philippine Stock Exchange.  -  By Al Labita in Manila    SINGAPORE BUSINESS TIMES      28 Feb 2005


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