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Legacy and Leadership: Lance Gokongwei and Kevin Tan share family secrets and more in the Family Business Continuity event of the year

By Alyanna Silvestre
Published September 15, 2023

Continuing on our journey through the intricacies of family businesses and their unique dynamics, the second half of the "Family Business Continuity: Ensuring a Fail-Proof Succession Plan" delved deeper into the art of preparing for whatever life has to offer to ensure not only the security but also the enduring legacy of family businesses across generations.

During the first half of the over six hours of enlightening discussions on August 19 at Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria, Dr. Josh Baron, a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School and a co-founder and partner at BanyanGlobal Family Business Advisors, emphasized the importance of balance in managing conflicts within family businesses. Conflict, he argued, is necessary but should be neither excessive nor scarce,  thus advising family businesses to establish proactive policies and use constructive conflict as a catalyst for improvement.

His presentation was followed by the live Q&A between Kevin Tan of Alliance Global Group and Prof. Enrique Soriano of W+B Advisory Group, which explored the critical aspects of accountability, independence, merit-based leadership, and trust in grooming the next generation of leaders based on Tan's own experiences and valuable lessons learned.

We then had the privilege of hearing from JG Summit Holdings president and CEO Lance Gokongwei’s and Prof. Soriano’s distinguished and experienced voices in the realm of family businesses.

The Gokong-Way’s Legacy Building

Lance Gokongwei's ascent to leadership in their family conglomerate JG Summit Holdings was a tale of staying rooted in the family's core ethos, proactively preparing for the future, and keeping up with the times. His journey reflects the intricate dynamics that often define family businesses, where tradition meets practicality and the founding generation's values and principles stand as a steadfast moral compass not only for the family but also the entire business.

Lance was honed from a young age to carry on his father's visionary legacy. While it was expected that he and his sisters would continue their father's work, the weight of this obligation was particularly pronounced for Lance as the sole male heir. Without hesitation, he embraced the role of the torchbearer of his father's vision, embodying a deep sense of responsibility ingrained in the family's principles. 

What sets Lance's leadership apart is that while he enjoyed certain privileges during his time due to the scale of their business then and a sense of duty, he wants the future generation to come in more prepared and well-deserving as he calls on fellow leaders to encourage the next-gen to deliberately pursue practical skills and real-world experience outside the family business – and probably make mistakes that impact not just themselves – before actually getting down to business to prepare them for the storm that is business ownership or management.

Building Your Ark and Adversity Quotient

Prof. Soriano delivers a sobering reminder to business owners of managing a business: you can never manage one from the grave. So, he urges business owners to carefully prepare for whatever challenge may arise along the journey of entrepreneurship, likening it to constructing one's own Noah's Ark. In light of this, he poses a thought-provoking question: "What kind of person will you be in those unfortunate moments?"

Beyond just being 'prepared,' Prof. Soriano hopes leaders are equipped with the right Adversity Quotient (AQ) level in response to his lingering question because effective preparation is not just about having contingency plans in place, but also about cultivating the right mindset and resilience to navigate unforeseen challenges.

Therefore, he exemplifies the significance of resilience when faced with adversity, drawing inspiration from Jackie Chan's career. Much like the action star, who sustained various injuries in every movie he made, family business founders encounter significant challenges behind each achievement, from limited resources to navigating complex business landscapes. These challenges shape the founder's capacity to cope with failure, adapt their strategies, and persevere – all of which are contributing factors to one's AQ.

Ultimately, as he underscores the finite nature of time in the unpredictable journey of business ownership, Prof. Soriano urges family business owners not only to bear but also endure to navigate life's unpredictabilities with resilience and foresight.

Looking back at the event that was, these insights can serve as the compass for family businesses as they continue their pursuit of harmonious legacies and thriving enterprises.

The “Family Business Continuity: Ensuring a Fail-Proof Succession Plan” event by leading Asia Pacific-based Strategic Advisory firm W+B Advisory Group is powered and organized by executive events organizer ICON Executive Asia. Interested in executive events like this? Stay in the loop and on track for success with ICON on LinkedIn and Facebook today!