Life Lessons from Washington SyCip

October 9th, 2017

Wash Sycip Article
Washington SyCip started the country’s largest multidisciplinary firm, SGV & Co., as a one-man company back in the 40s after the Philippines was recovering from the effects of the second world war. At that time, auditing services were largely dominated by foreign firms. SyCip, however, greatly believed in the ability of Filipinos to excel in the field and outperform their foreign counterparts. Today, SGV & Co. employs over 4,000 professionals in auditing, tax, transaction and advisory services and have produced the brightest professionals in the financial word—many of whom have moved on to becoming founders of their own firms or partners in international firms.

His passing leaves a gaping hole in the Philippine business community. SyCip’s renowned character and commitment to excellence was instilled in many of his employees and inspired countless leaders both in the public and private sector. Today, we celebrate his life that was dedicated to raising the standards of excellence, innovation, and perseverance of the Filipino. Here are some lessons taken from Washington Sycip’s feature in Go Negosyo’s 50 Entrepreneurs of Passion Book:

1. The value of meritocracy
Washington SyCip was able to grow his one-man company into what it is today, because he believed in meritocracy and excellence. When SyCip began recruiting for his firm, he was able to attract the best of the best in every university. His selling point? “I told them that none of my children would be joining my firm. It will be a complete meritocracy. Therefore, I got the best of these bright students.”

2. Invest in training your employees
SyCip was able to beat out foreign competition by providing paid training programs to his employees. The culture he formed where young employees gained valuable knowledge and experience coupled with great compensation garnered SyCip the loyalty of many. This culture also expedited his employees’ learning curve, allowing the company to create better and faster results for their clients.

3. Give back
SyCip is often praised as the pioneer of the Filipinization of the accounting profession and a stalwart of education. His thought-leadership led to the establishment of the Asian Institute of Management, an Asia-focused management school, where he would offer his resources and time to mentor business students. With his many accomplishments, SyCip valued the lives of Filipinos especially the poorest of the poor. Thousands of farmers were able to send their children to school when SyCip funded CARD-MRI to provide loans to the farmers and pooled together many business players to do the same.