Building a legacy

SUITS THE C-SUITE By Cirilo P. Noel

Business World (01/04/2016 – p.S1/4)

American entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker Jim Rohn once said: “All good men and women must take the responsibility to create legacies that will take the next generation to a level we could only imagine.”

This is timely food for thought as we open the New Year because it is, in essence, forward thinking.

Most people might associate the word “legacy” with a bequest or an inheritance — material gifts upon the demise of an individual. This is, by all means, correct but a legacy can also mean a non-tangible keepsake that is passed on by someone to another. A legacy can also be an inheritance in the form of a memory or of knowledge from the past. One’s heritage, then, is an accumulation of several legacies.

This leads us back to Jim Rohn’s quote which actually poses the question: What legacy will you create?

This introspective challenge also happens to be the foundation of EY (Ernst & Young)’s global program called “Legacy Builders.” The legacies passed on to us by great men and women in history all began with questions like — “Can this work better?”

With that in mind and in conjunction with EY’s purpose of helping build a better working world, the global professional services firm embarked on a program that would address creating a powerful legacy for others. It is all about doing work that will make a positive difference and a tremendous impact on the working world. The starting point is building advocacy and ensuring that the sense of purpose shines. Building advocacy across different stakeholders is key in any organization. Legacy emanates from advocacy that has been nurtured and tested over time.

At the heart of EY’s culture is a commitment to help its clients improve their businesses. Building a legacy is found even in the everyday things that accumulate and enable EY professionals to have a significant impact on the world at large. This impact provides the confidence to help clients succeed and become great organizations.

Legacy means that both individually and collectively, we have the opportunity to be catalysts for a better working world. When we focus on helping others work better, we are contributing not only to their legacy but also to our own personal legacy. This is done in increments — one step at a time, one interaction at a time. It may take a lifetime but the point is to direct our actions toward leaving a legacy that contributes to the success of others.

This year marks the 70th year since the founding of SGV & Co, which is the EY member firm in the Philippines. While EY continues to articulate its desire for its people to become legacy builders, we have realized the benefits of such a legacy. We cannot celebrate seven decades without acknowledging the legacy handed to us by professionals who came before us. It was their mentorship and stewardship that institutionalized SGV and provided it with the reputation it now holds. Foremost among them is our Founder, Washington SyCip, whose foresight (back in 1946) and wisdom through the years, contributed greatly to SGV’s longevity.

In retrospect, we acknowledge that the advocacy of the firm at the outset provided the direction and path to take. And nurturing this advocacy has transformed this to a living legacy for the future generations of SGV alumni. It is our heritage that sustains our existence — because these are grounded on timeless and reliable values such as integrity, excellence and hard work. These have remained unshaken for seven decades now. And these are the very values that have led us to what now characterizes SGV in the 21st century — Strength, Growth and Vision.

The SGV legacy has empowered us, giving us the Strength in both numbers and capabilities. From a one-man office, we have ballooned to over 5,700 people. There are now 100 partners leading SGV’s professionals in servicing about 8,500 clients. We are organized in 10 groups, clustered around industries so that we can provide the most appropriate service required of us. We count as “alumni” over 32,000 who had once passed our doors and who now contribute positively to their respective organizations and communities. Contributing to our homegrown strength is our access to our global EY network that comprises 212,000 people in 728 offices found in 150 economies — all linked by state-of-the-art technology as well as shared knowledge and methodologies.

Because of our deep bench and reach, SGV’s Growth has been unstoppable since its first office opened amid the ruins of war-torn Manila. By the 1960s, SGV had become the first Asian multinational company with member firms in almost all the capital cities in East and Southeast Asia. In the 1980s, when global alliances became necessary as the world market opened up, SGV grew its network beyond Asia’s borders. And while we continue to service the Philippine market, we have now opened our doors through the EY Global Delivery Network — a service delivery platform that allows our people to gain work exposure and experience by working with other EY offices across the world. The potential for growth has become limitless.

And while we consciously use our Strength and as we rise to the challenges of Growth, SGV remains true to the Vision that has guided the Firm all this time. That vision is for SGV to contribute to the nation’s progress by providing the best possible professional services and by being stewards to the next generations who will have to continue the legacy. As our Founder once said: “We (the Firm) cannot prosper if the country does not prosper.” This is a precious inheritance that we all take to heart.

In 70 years, one can say that we have accumulated legacies unimaginable to the core of pioneer professionals who — with the enthusiasm of youth and the numerous possibilities of the future — set out in 1946 to build SGV. They must have asked the right questions and it is now our responsibility to continue this task.

We take this rare opportunity to wish all our readers the best of the New Year and to invite you to celebrate with us 70 years of Strength, Growth, and Vision.

This article is for general information only and is not a substitute for professional advice where the facts and circumstances warrant. The views and opinion expressed above are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of SGV & Co.

Cirilo P. Noel is the Chairman and Managing Partner of SGV & Co.