At the same week of the papal visit, hundreds of people flocked to the Ateneo to witness an event that literally spelled something big as two organizations bring the Taipans of the Philippine society into the university.
Over 400 people, inclusive of high school and college students, professors and guests, gathered for the first ever Taipan: National Business Summit held last January 17, 2015. The whole day event was made possible by the Ateneo Celadon in partnership with the Ateneo Junior Marketing Association (AJMA), and co-presented by Lee Cooper, 8990 Holdings, Inc., Blue Consulting Group and Ateneo MEcO. The event was hosted by Willord Chua, a professional host prominent in the Filipino-Chinese community, Nicole Cordoves, more popularly known as Ms. Chinatown 2014, and Jason Uy from AJMA.
With the theme “Rising Through Business Innovation,” the business summit featured a series of talks from a few of the most iconic faces of commerce in the Filipino-Chinese business community: namely, Francis Kong (Success Options and FunWorks Inc.), Kenneth Yang (Golden Arches Development Corp.), Johnlu Koa (The French Baker), Jonathan Gotianun (Filinvest Land, Inc.), and Ana Melissa Yao (Richprime Global, Inc.). The event also featured a lunch gathering for the participants and speakers, which divided the talks into morning and afternoon conference sessions inclusive of question and answer. Also, the event features a special raffle draw prepared by the Taipan Core team in partnership with the event’s various sponsors such as Lee Cooper, Birkenstock and etc.
Just Top Class (大班)
Taipan literally means “top class.” And this word adjoined everything about the event from execution to speakers as well as Celadon and AJMA’s endeavor to embody “Taipan” as a value by promoting excellence and innovation for sustainable development. “Rising Through Business Innovation” as the theme brought the top class business tycoons or the Taipans of the country to inspire student leaders with their first-hand knowledge and experiences
Definitely, the highlight of the event would be the whole conference with talks provided by the illustrious line-up of speakers or the Taipans.
The multi-talented Francis Kong, who is a broadcaster, writer, entrepreneur, consultant and speaker, shared his story of success as well as his definition of true success- which is when your family is successful. Involved in a wide portfolio of businesses and activities, Francis shared that business is always cyclical and seasonal, and that we need to be students of history so not to make the same mistakes.
“Change is scary, but it’s scarier not to change,” said Francis Kong.
How do you really start business from scratch? Kenneth Yang, the man behind the multi-billion success franchise and CEO of the Golden Arches Development Corp. (McDonald’s), centered his speech on the need for a vision; that without ambition there can be no action. His most important points include “libreng mangarap,” having focus, just doing it, having perseverance, valuing people and staying humble.
“Focus on your own strengths and weaknesses while keeping an eye on your competitors,” added Mr. Yang.
Founder and CEO of the French Baker, Johnlu Koa, owes his success to education. According to Mr. Koa: “Do not take for granted your accounting classes.” He further emphasized the importance of getting to know your friends, having student organizations and investing in the Chinese language. “If you cannot speak Fukien, speak Mandarin,” stressed Johnlu Koa. Mr. Koa pointed out that the French Baker has taken the bread and bakeshop industry in the Philippines by storm and is a pioneering force in turning it into the innovative and competitive category that it is today. Innovation at the point of success is realized in understanding that the business environment is ever changing.
“Things will not be cheaper, but things will be done differently.” Mr. Koa’s advice to all innovative entrepreneurs and businessmen is to know how to do the “‘conversation’, know the science and art behind your product.”
Jonathan Gotianun, director and chairman of both Filinvest Development Corp. and the flagship business Filinvest Land Inc., similar to the other speakers, also focused on education, time, humility via listening, but also emphasizing on the importance of finding the right partner. He shared his love story that eventually led to the success of his family in business. Mr. Gotianun shared some very relatable experiences; to succeed in business, prepare by studying hard, pursue by working hard and, just like the essence of his story, marry the right person.
The last speaker Ana Melissa Yao is the managing director of Richprime Global Inc., Executive Vice President of Richwell Trading Corp, and also a woman who has been involved in diverse businesses and activities. She imparted to the participants the importance of innovation. When asked how she was able to keep Barbie – who is 55 years old as far as the market is concerned – alive and relevant, she exclaimed that innovation is the key. Mrs. Yao even shared her experiences on licensing and innovating and how she made this a success.
“Why not put the Barbie brand in things we do every day,” was the start for Mrs. Yao, explaining how Barbie back then was a toy for rich girls, justifying how the iconic brand can reach out to a different segment of the market by adapting. “When a business does a same thing over and over again, it stagnates, even the most successful companies, because they fail to innovate. Technology is a big part of our life and is the key to many future innovations,” she expressed.
One for the Books Indeed
Marking its first year in the history of Ateneo, Taipan was welcomed with applause and well-received by numerous participants as well as notable individuals in the university:
“First and foremost, I would like to applaud this event for its excellent execution! The values of excellence, innovation and hard work are deeply rooted in the Chinese culture and can be seen in successful companies that these Taipans represent, as well as in the organization that put this all together. The resourcefulness and determination of the Chinese are recognized around the world at the age of globalization. It is about time that we share these values to others,” exclaimed Mr. Sidney Bata, Ateneo Celadon Moderator.
“On behalf of the Ateneo de Manila University, I congratulate the Ateneo Celadon and Ateneo Junior Marketing Association for gathering an impressive lineup of speakers for Taipan: National Business Summit. They are men and women who have successfully nurtured and led their companies through many challenges, and can impart valuable lessons to you, our future business leaders and nation builders,” articulates Fr. Jett Villarin, Ateneo de Manila President.
The success of the event also earned the attention of the Council of the Organizations of the Ateneo (COA) as Taipan: Business Summit is nominated for the “Breakthrough Project of the Year” of the 2015 COA Awards.
Written by Bryan Ang