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In the cutthroat corporate world, only a handful have stood the test of time—and Filinvest Development Corporation (FDC) is one of the select few.
For almost seven decades, FDC has proven its mettle. In the face of historical and societal changes, both permanent and fleeting, the company has powered through it all, evolving to become one of the most formidable forces in the Philippine business landscape.
The company’s success owes largely to its unshakeable core purpose: enabling Filipinos to achieve their dreams.
And as the times change, so there is a reason for ushering in catalysts for renewed vigor, fresh ideas, and groundbreaking innovations, guided by the heritage and values of the founding Gotianun family.
A new outlook
In an exclusive interview with The Philippine STAR, Ysmael Baysa, COO of Filinvest Development Corp., one of the country’s most stable and diversified conglomerates, shares how the company’s seasoned leaders have been “very supportive” of the company’s rising executives while helping them come into their own.
“Our chairman and vice chairperson provide the new leaders with historical background and context to past decisions which numbers and documents alone cannot provide,” Baysa shares. “They patiently discuss with us not just what decisions were made but how and why they arrived at those decisions. These give us a better understanding of the business and help the new leadership in formulating new strategies and tactics where needed.”
Baysa adds that in discussing how decisions have been made, they are able to better understand the values being upheld behind those decisions. He explains: “This is very important because these values originated from the founders which we, the new leadership, must and will continue to uphold even as the business environment and strategies change.”
Among the “young blood” FDC is welcoming into its upper echelons are the next-generation Gotinanuns—Isabelle Gotianun Yap and Francis Gotianun. The 35-year-old Isabelle, who has degrees from the Singapore Management University and Harvard Business School, serves as the Executive Director and Vice President of EastWest Banking Corp.
Meanwhile, Francis, scion of two of the country’s biggest families with diversified conglomerates, the Gotianuns and Consunjis, is the First Senior Vice President of Filinvest Hospitality. The 40-year-old who earned his degrees from the University of Virginia and University of Navarra —IESE Business School also currently sits on the board of Filinvest REIT Corp (FILRT), FDC, and Filinvest Land, Inc. (FLI).
Both Isabelle and Francis are a whiff of fresh air, bringing with them their innovative perspectives to ensure that FDC keeps up with the fast-changing times, all while honoring the values that have kept the company an enduring success and the Gotianuns’ trademark commitment to progress, sustainability, and innovation.
An exciting new chapter
With any transition in leadership comes changes. FDC’s newly appointed President and CEO Rhoda “Chiqui” Huang states that they are looking into fostering a new culture of agility with excellence, building upon the track record of success that Filinvest has established.
Drawing from Filinvest’s remarkable transformation from a humble car financing business in the 1950s to a diversified conglomerate with an asset base of approximately P700 billion in 2023, she says that the progress “reflects our commitment to adapt and evolve to serve the changing needs of our customers, employees, and partners.”
Huang, who is among the most esteemed figures in the Philippine investment banking industry, shares that their objective is to enhance collaboration among FDC’s different business units and optimize synergies within the ecosystem.
“We envision a customer-obsessed organization focusing on better serving our stakeholders,” she adds. The pandemic has left valuable lessons on the importance of working towards being resilient. “We are also keen on adapting to an ever-changing business environment and being prepared for unprecedented events.”
While FDC’s visionary and transformational leaders have steered the company to uncharted territories, expanding its brand portfolio through the past 68 years, at its core lies certain values that anchor it to the very essence of its identity: being an enabler of dreams and ambitions.
Baysa enumerates the values of Filinvest as keeping its customers in mind by introducing innovation, being agile in pursuing operational excellence, investing in its people, having an entrepreneurial mindset in identifying and pursuing opportunities, sharing the benefit of its business success with its stakeholders, and earning and preserving their trust.
“All these values will continue to be upheld but our drive for innovation and agility and toward delighting our customers will drive our business and organization even more compared with the past,” he adds.
According to Baysa, FDC will remain focused on serving middle-income Filipinos as its primary customers in its various businesses. “But we will drive more innovations and efficiency to serve our customers even better.”
Meanwhile, Huang says that in the short term, they aim to capitalize on opportunities to accelerate recovery, as well as grow the business faster. “The first-half income performance of our bank, property, hospitality, and power businesses has been positive, and we hope to drive growth further,” she explains.
EastWest Bank’s core earnings rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, buoyed by its increased consumer lending.
Filinvest Land, Inc. on the other hand, has launched P4.56 billion worth of residential during the first half of the year. FDC Utilities has expanded its customer base and now provides the critical electricity that the Visayas requires following the interconnection of Mindanao to the Luzon-Visayas power grids. Filinvest Hospitality continues to benefit from the upswing in tourism with Crimson, Quest, and Timberland Hotels and Resorts. Meanwhile, through the LIPAD consortium, FDC is likewise focused on the operations of Clark International Airport.
“In the long run, our commitment is to create shared value and ensure that Filinvest plays a vital role in contributing to the nation’s development and progress,” Huang enthuses.
Continuity and change
Both Huang and Baysa carry with them decades of experience working with and for the country’s major corporations and financial institutions. With this, they too, bring their own brand of leadership, while staying faithful to the values the Gotianuns hold dear.
For her part, Huang keeps it simple: “My leadership principles revolve around resilience and tenacity, persistently pursuing goals.”
Baysa, on the other hand, shares:
“I enjoy working with people at different levels of the organization, particularly problem-solving and teaching principles that underlie the decisions. My biggest ‘kick’ is making ordinary people deliver outstanding results.”
With the dawn of a new era in FDC, there is only optimism and excitement for what lies ahead. Backed by a distinguished heritage and now steered by promising leadership, the Filinvest Group stands ready to face a future of unending possibilities to further realize dreams and brighten up lives.
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Editor’s Note: BrandedUp is designed to provide you with insightful, inspiring, and educational content created by PhilSTAR L!fe in collaboration with brands like Filinvest.