The passing of Washington Z. SyCip last October 7 was a huge loss for the Philippine business community in more ways than one. Unlike most business icons, he wasn’t a distant figure but worked actively in the corporate boards with other business leaders and executives until his final days.
According to data compiled by Entrepreneur Philippines, SyCip was a member of the board of directors or board of advisers in at least 40 listed and non-listed companies as of end-2016. Check out the infographic above to see a breakdown of what these companies are and for how long he has held a key position in that company.
Though best known as the founder of SyCip Gorres Velayo & Co. (SGV & Co.), the country’s largest accounting firm that he established in 1946, he was also a sought after corporate director and board member as companies looked to him for guidance and advice.
In a statement issued on October 9, the Asian Institute of Management (AIM), a pioneer of management education in the region, credited SyCip as “one of the key proponents behind AIM’s full-time MBA program that was attuned to a developing Asian region.” SyCip served as founding chairman of the AIM and chairman emeritus most recently. The AIM school that handles the MBA program is named after him: the Washington SyCip Graduate School of Business.
Another statement made by The PHINMA Group, which credits SyCip as a “founding director and adviser throughout our six decades,” further highlighted his enormous influence to many around him. PHINMA is one of the country’s industrial pioneers that built the country’s first Filipino-owned and managed oil refinery and several of its largest cement plants until the late 1990s. “He generously shared his wisdom to provide counsel to business associates, his passion and generosity to advance education as the means to a better world, and his compassion to give hope to those who have the least in life,” the company said.
SyCip’s value to the companies he served is also apparent to a certain extent in their actual financial performance.
We took a look at the share prices of 16 listed companies where SyCip was a director and checked how these moved in the first half of the year compared to the entire Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) index. The results, while probably limited to be truly significant, were nonetheless interesting. On average, the 16 listed companies where SyCip was a director went up by 23.2 percent compared to the PSE index’s rise of only 14.7 percent in the first six months of 2017.
The results based on actual financial operations were rather mixed, however. On one hand, the SyCip-linked companies reported higher average revenue growth in 2016 of 8.3 percent compared to 6.6 percent average of all listed companies. On the other hand, companies where SyCip was a director reported a lower average growth in net income of only 6.1 percent compared to the average of all listed companies, which stood at 17.8 percent.
While inconclusive, these preliminary numbers should perhaps encourage future business researchers to take a close look at the quantitative impact of SyCip’s large corporate foot print in the local business landscape. The SGV & Co. founder is a record holder in terms of corporate directorships and it is but fitting that experts should study if there is a palpable “Washington SyCip effect” on the financial and operational performance of companies that he served as a director or adviser.
Lorenzo Kyle Subido is a staff writer of Entrepreneur PH