Tycoon Gotianun shares secrets to success

Posted at 08/30/14 2:06 PM

Filinvest Group chairman Andrew L. Gotianun Sr.

MANILA, Philippines -- Filinvest Group chairman emeritus Andrew L. Gotianun Sr. gamely shared his secret to growing a company to a conglomerate, in a rare appearance at the Anvil Business Club meeting last week.

At almost 88, Gotianun revealed how it all worked for him building his business empire for the past 60 years.

Gotianun Sr. gamely answered questions from the audience during the Anvil Business Club gathering. The panel also included his son, Jonathan T. Gotianun and daughter, Josephine Gotianun Yap.

The tycoon, who ranked 17th in the latest Forbes rich list with an estimated net worth of $955 million, shared that it is not just about hard work but 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,” he said.

Feminist businessman

Even before there is much talk about breaking the glass ceiling in the workplace, Gotianun Sr. has already started the revolution that women deserve a place at the boardroom in the 1950s.

Breaking the tradition of the time that only sons or males in the family take precedence, he emphasized that women deserve to be treated equally with 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 said.

Gotianun candidly admitted that his wife, Mercedes, was 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 said.

Gotianun Sr. said that he did not hold back his wife from dabbling in the business and even recognized her potential.

“I am the dreamer. She executes my ideas and made those dreams a reality," he said, of the entrepreneurial ideas then that built the Filinvest Group of Companies.


He may be more relaxed, now that he has passed on the baton to the next generation of Gotianuna. But he still researches new business opptortunities that allows them to take on diverse business interests. How?

"He uses the Internet to research a certain business that he is interested in," Gotianun-Yap said. "He prints out tons of reasearch makes us read it. My father does not get tired of doing research.”

The Gotianuns saw potential business opportunities during their trips here and abroad. Andrew Sr. and Mercedes personally did their research on their first bank interviewing small bank owners in the U.S. and followed their business models and fine tuned it to fit the Philippine setting. Their trips to Florida gave them ideas about guarded subdivisions for the middle class in the mid-60s.

Gotianun has no regrets defying the norms of his time and is passing it on to the next generation.