A living embodiment of magis and cura personalis
02 Sep 2022 | Anthony Sy
Mr. Anthony Go Sy currently serves as the President of S&R Membership Shopping. From its humble beginnings in 2006 as the 1st Membership Warehouse Club in the Philippines, it has increased its nationwide footprint to 22 Warehouse Clubs and 48 Quick Service Restaurants.
Today, S&R is a well-respected, multi-billion dollar game-changer in the Philippine retail industry as it prides itself in offering a world-class shopping experience to the Filipino people.
Mr. Sy’s professional journey started after a solid foundation in Ateneo when he graduated BS Management Engineering in 1982.
After graduation, he led a business involved in visual merchandising where he designed and manufactured fixture fit-outs for various department stores and supermarkets in the country. One thing led to another until all these experiences opened an opportunity for him to lead the S&R business.
Aside from S&R Membership Shopping, Mr. Sy also serves as a Director for Antel Land and Antel Holdings, a real estate company dealing with multiple high-rise projects in Makati, and real estate subdivisions and housing developments in the South Luzon area.
Growth through education is very important to Mr. Sy, which is why beyond his work responsibilities, he continues to generously support the scholarship campaign of the Federation of Ateneo Management Engineers (FAME). For over 10 years now and more than 20 scholars later, he remains enthusiastic in supporting Ateneo scholars, embodying the true spirit of “magis”.
The 10 Pe Gan Heng scholars who graduated this year now join the 12 scholars who have received the gift of an Ateneo education through the scholarships that Mr. Sy established. He is clearly a ‘man for others’ as seen in the way he personally guides and mentors his scholars by regularly meeting with them despite his busy schedule. His scholars are blessed because they not only have him as their benefactor, but also as a selfless mentor who encourages and supports them even long after graduation.
Below is the full transcript of his Address to the Graduating Scholars of Class 2022 delivered last August 25, 2022, Thursday, at the Hyundai Hall of Areté.
University President Fr. Bobby C. Yap, SJ, Vice President for the Loyola Schools; Dr. Marlu C. Vilches, Office of Admission and Aid Director; Dr. Jo-Ed K. Tirol, Loyola Schools Deans and University Administrators; Fellow Benefactors, Class of 2022 Scholars, good afternoon!
It is my honor, pleasure, and privilege to address YOU -- the graduating class of 2022. After today, you will join all the Ateneo Alumni that have walked these halls before you. You have earned the right to forever become a member of society that graduated from Ateneo. Congratulations, you did it!
I would also like to extend my warm congratulations to the 10 Pe Gan Heng Scholars. It was truly rewarding for me to see how all of you grew in knowledge and confidence during these past 4 years.
My family started the Pe Gan Heng Scholarship Program to give honor to my dad. He came from very humble beginnings and had to come to Manila at a very young age on his own to work & send back money to his family in China. My dad didn’t know how to read or write. He didn’t know how to speak the language. All he had was his grit & his kind heart. And that was enough. He never had the opportunity to have a formal education like all of you in this room, but he strongly believed in its gift and its power. It has the power to change lives for the better, and enact change in the world, if used wisely. He’s not here with us today, but I’m sure that he’s smiling down on all of us, proud of this new batch of scholars and graduates.
Being an Ateneo scholar isn’t a walk in the park. You had to be on top of the game and you had to work harder than your peers. Not only that, but you were also all able to succeed even in very trying years with COVID-19, lock downs, social distancing and more... Never in recent history since the World War era has there been this much disruption! These challenges have made you more adaptable, more creative, and more determined -- skills that will contribute to your future success.
As you begin your work career, the traits of adaptability, creativity and determination are key ingredients to your long-term success. And I tell you this being in the twilight years of my own career. After my formal education from Ateneo I wasted no time in forging my own path. I worked in multiple companies in many different jobs. And as much as these have been difficult, I’ve learned so much from them, and these have ultimately shaped who I am today. I would like to take this opportunity to share a few things with you, and really, it is all about the CHOICES you make:
Whatever career you choose, CHOOSE to understand Economics, Finance and Accounting! I promise you; those 3-hour term exams will eventually be worth it! These business principles are what drive the world. Having a solid foundation on these business principles and the desire to continue to learn more will be essential to your success.
In business, and in life, there are two kinds of people, those who follow and those who lead. Take it from me – CHOOSE to lead. And as you lead, strive to disrupt. Strive to create disruption in anything that you do. Even with the simplest of tasks, strive to disrupt. With this mindset, you will always challenge yourself and your team to find a better way. You can easily see that an action of an individual can reverberate many-fold, but you will have to choose to lead, and lead to disrupt.
An hour's conversation with someone is like reading a good book. This means, CHOOSE to surround yourself with people better than you. People who can bring you forward and not backward. Be in the company of the best people and people that can push and mentor you. This also means honest people who can point out your mistakes so you can be better. Instead of an hour on TikTok or Instagram, CHOOSE the habit of reading. What you will realize is that this knowledge will always be at the back of you mind, and this knowledge can be power someday. So never stop learning! Choose learning!
Every year, as you get deeper into your own career, you will be facing tougher and tougher decisions. More often, you will be faced with the right decision or the popular decision. Always CHOOSE to do the right decision because it is the right thing! While sometimes you will feel that choosing the right thing can lead you to setbacks, you should always zoom out, see the bigger picture, and empathize. Ateneo has taught us to be men and women for others, and the moment we put others first, in the long term & in hindsight, you will be forever at peace with the right decision. Remember, your career is a marathon, not a sprint. Just like your reputation, you build this through time, and hence, true integrity means we always do the right thing.
CHOOSE to be fair. Treat people with respect and obedience regardless of a subordinate or boss, regardless of being a vendor or a vendee. Be humble, charitable and give back to society.
CHOOSE to pay it forward. When you are ready, give the gift of education to someone in need. Donations can feed a day, but education provides a lifetime of nourishment. Education will be the most valuable gift you can ever give a scholar as it has the ability to change their lives, build their future, & provide a lifetime of opportunities.
I would like you to take a minute and think with me about, “what is success”? You now have the education to become successful but what does that mean to you? I recommend that you think deeply about this question. Success is a personal thing and can have many definitions for an individual. The meaning of success also changes as a person matures. Society has dictated that success means owning the biggest business, having the largest house, driving fancy cars, and eating at the finest restaurants. While these might or might not be part of your definition, I suggest you think deeper.
Personally, when I left these halls as a 20-year-old, I knew what I needed to do to be successful, or at least what I thought was success at that time. I yearned for financial independence, power, and recognition, and because of those goals, I worked extra hard to fulfill them. And yes, this gave me comfort and happiness. But as I got older, this definition changed. What society dictates as success isn’t necessarily true for me anymore. The measure of success for me now is having a legacy of honesty, charity and having the openness to help others. And as cliché as it may sound, being a man or woman for others is truly what matters in life. It’s funny how the Ateneo has taught this lesson to us in the very beginning, but it sometimes takes a lifetime to really learn, understand and apply. To be honest, this lesson was also taught to me by my dad many years ago, and I admire him because he was able live this principle so naturally. Maybe it’s because it was taught to us in theory, but for him, even if he wasn’t given the same opportunities as I have, he understood it at the core. And with that, I know that he is truly richer, happier, and more successful than I could ever be. Now, think about what success means to you and don’t be afraid or pressured if it changes from time to time.
Do not be dictated by society’s definition of success. Success is personal and can only be defined by you. What is important is that you feel at peace, you feel contented, and you are a positive force to society, whatever this may be. Whatever career you take on, keep your definition of success in check. What matters is your own definition of success. as that would also define who you are and which path you will take.
As a benefactor, I have had the privilege to see some of you grow from your freshman year, all the way to this day, and I am truly inspired by you. You all possess this strength, the same strength I found in my dad, to push through trying times and come out successful yet humble. Every one of you deserves to be in this room, and don’t let anyone ever underestimate you or your power. My family and I may have given the gift of education, but I believe seeing you all here is an even greater gift.
As you leave the halls of Ateneo, make this opportunity count. Be the Class of 2022 graduates that will make these disruptive and positive changes to the world! Think big, set your goals high, be resilient during the inevitable setbacks and change the world. Really, the only limitation is your imagination.
Regardless of riches or accomplishments strive to be a person who upholds the traditions of this great and prestigious university. Be kind, be humble and grateful for you are a graduate of the Ateneo. Keep your faith close and make a positive impact on those around you. May God continue to bless you and your family.
Congratulations class of 2022!
03 Dec 2022