JG Summit Holdings Inc. founder John Gokongwei Jr. was named “Management Man of the Year 2017” by the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP), for his “business acumen and management qualities.”
MAP, in ceremonies at the Shangri-La at the Fort hotel on Monday, cited Gokongwei for steering his company into remarkable growth “through his foresight and exceptional ability to launch new ventures and transform existing ones to better adapt to challenging times and an unpredictable future.”
MAP also cited Gokongwei, whose conglomerate spans Jack ‘n Jill snacks to Robinsons malls and Cebu Pacific Air, for his companies’ contributions to national development, job creation and income generation, through its investments in food manufacturing, real estate, air transportation, and a host of other sectors.
Gokongwei contributed to “shaping national values and inspiring others by his outstanding achievements attained from humble beginnings through hard work, perseverance, frugality and discipline,” MAP said.
In his response, the Xiamen-born Chinese-Filipino magnate and scion of a wealthy Cebu-based family, noted that the award came 10 years after his retirement from JG Summit, where he is chairman emeritus.
JG Summit is now led by his brother James Go as chairman, and son Lance Gokongwei as president.
“I’d like to thank you for this recognition, which, funnily, comes 10 years after I retired and relinquished the management of the company to my brother James and my son Lance. I have to say though that the timing is impeccable. The mark of a good manager, as they say, is to make oneself dispensable, and I believe that 10 years hence, the business has prospered under their capable leadership, coupled by a bench of professional management,” Gokongwei said in his acceptance speech.
“Just a few years ago, the conventional wisdom was that family-run businesses could not be as well-managed as non-family run businesses. But the research has shifted, and our experience as a group shows that a hybrid of family-led publicly listed business works,” he added.
Gokongwei said the mark of a good manager was to build value, create jobs, and make money for shareholders.
The billionaire entrepreneur dedicated his award to his family, especially to his wife, Elizabeth.
“I would like to thank my mother, Juanita, and siblings, Henry, Johnson, James and Lily for being my partners in starting JG Summit. When we were still operating out of a small tindahan (store) on Martinez Street in Cebu City, they acted as bodegeros (warehouse personnel), clerks, all-around handymen. They were with me from the very beginning,” Gokongwei said.
Gokongwei built JG Summit, the Philippines’ second-largest family-run business, from a modest trading business he ran on a bicycle in his native Cebu, after his father died during the Japanese occupation that began in 1942.
“Let us continue to grow JG Summit into a world-class company. It took me 75 years to come to this point. I hope you continue to forge your own path and continue to practice our brand of entrepreneurial management in a world that is changing very fast,” Gokongwei told JG Summit executives.
MAP bestows its “Management Man of the Year” award to business and government leaders who have reached “unquestioned distinction in the practice of management and for contributing to the country’s progress.”
Past awardees include Washington SyCip, founder of auditing giant SGV, the Ayala group’s Jaime Zobel de Ayala, real estate tycoon Henry Sy, construction magnate David Consunji, and Jollibee founder Tony Tan Caktiong.