Tycoon Andrew L. Gotianun, Sr. defies the norms of life and business

Sep 5, 2014


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If there are secrets to growing a company to a conglomerate, Filinvest Group chairman emeritus Andrew L. Gotianun Sr. is simply vocal and more than willing to share with his audience of second and third generation Filipino-Chinese entrepreneurs on Thursday evening at the Palms Country Club in Alabang.


At almost 88, the Taipan Andrew Sr., a business thespian in the Philippines, imparts how it all worked for him building his business empire for the past 60 years.


(L-R) Filinvest Group & East West Bank founder Andrew Gotianun Sr. with wife, co-founder Mercedes Tan Gotianun Filinvest Development Corp. president Josephine Gotianun-Yap.


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. gamely answered questions from the audience.  


He revealed 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,” shares Gotianun Sr.


Feminist Businessman


Even before there was talk about breaking the glass ceiling in the workplace at the turn of the century, Filinvest Group patriarch Andrew L. 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, Andrew Sr. 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 enthuses. 


He candidly admits that his wife, Mercedes, was the one who implemented and executed their 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 recalls.  


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 executed my ideas and made those dreams a reality,” pertaining to his entrepreneurial ideas then that built the Filinvest Group of Companies. 


Diversification that Works


Still the visionary, Andrew Sr. does not get tired of seeking new business opportunities especially with the power of the internet.


Admittedly now more laid back 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 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., following their business models and fine tuning them to fit the Philippine setting. Their trips to Florida gave them ideas about guarded subdivisions and subdivisions for the middle class in the mid-60s. 


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

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