Stories that inspire: Andrew Tan and John Gokongwei
Behind the success of business magnates Andrew Tan and Jon Gokongwei lies a story of hard work, persistence, and most of all, family.
Some of the richest businesspersons in the country were born into wealth, wherein they built up what their families have already started. But for business magnates Andrew Tan and John Gokongwei, it wasn’t as smooth sailing.
Andrew Tan is a part of the ‘new’ generation of Filipino billionaires. Andrew came from humble beginnings; he was the son of poor Chinese immigrants from Fujian province, and his family migrated to Hong Kong when he was 4.
When he was 16, his family moved to the Philippines and worked alongside his father who was working in a transistor radio factory. He shares, “I lived with my parents in a cramped 20 square meter apartment in Sta. Cruz, Manila. I struggled throughout my college days because I had no money. To save on jeepney fare, I walked every day from my apartment to the UE campus on C.M. Recto.”
Eventually, Andrew graduated magna cum laude with a degree in Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. Through hard work, determination, and the support of his family, he eventually set up a distillery (Emperador Distillers), and a real estate firm (Megaworld), the latter of which is one of the largest, if not the largest in the country.
Andrew makes it a point to involve his family in his businesses, his wife handles a number of their endeavors, and he makes sure to teach the values he learned to his four kids.
John Gokongwei Jr. was the son of a rich businessman from Cebu. He recalls that when he was young, he lived a life of luxury, taking his friends to one of his father’s movie houses to watch films for free. He had a chauffeur who drove him to school daily, and he studied at the prestigious San Carlos University. However, it all changed when his father suddenly died when he was only 13.
His father’s entire wealth was built on credit, so when his father passed away, all of their money was gone. He shares that he became angry at first, but eventually he realized that he had to work hard so that he and his mother can support their family. He started selling roasted peanuts in the market, then he eventually moved up to selling tires, and later on, set up a trading company with his brother.
Armed with the lessons that his late father imparted him, he built up his businesses and now he owns Cebu Pacific, Sun Cellular, C2 Green Tea, among others. The lessons that he learned throughout his life, as well as his unique approach to business has made him one of the most successful businessmen in the country.
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