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Stay 'humble, hungry': Henry Sy's grandson shares business advice from family

MANILA -- Heirs of late billionaire Henry Sy are taught to stay "humble and hungry," said one of his grandchildren who is leading the SM group's engineering and design arm.

In the family-run conglomerate, "there is never pwede na (good enough)," and the Sys are encouraged to innovate to grow their shopping mall, banking and retail empire, said Hans Sy Jr.

Sy Jr., the president of the SM Engineering Design and Development Corp is the son of SM Prime Holdings board director Hans Sy Sr. The young Sy considers his father as his biggest influence.

"One of the things he likes to remind us is to stay humble and to stay hungry. We always like to remind ourselves that as market leaders, we have no benchmark, we have to stay grounded, we have to stay hungry," Sy Jr. said.

"The challenge for us in the office is that every year, there must be visible and physical gains, if not we’ve wasted our time. So for me that’s something that I fully credit to my father,” he said.

As a third generation caretaker of the SM group, he said he would invest in new technology while preserving the family partnerships.

"We envisioned SM to be a strong partner and institutional really in almost everything that the Filipino consumer partakes in and we believe in the future," he said.

(From left to right) SM Development Corporation Project Director Jan Catherine Sy; SM Engineering Design and Development President Hans Sy Jr.; SM Investments Corporation Chairman Jose Sio; SM Prime Advisor to the Board Teresita Sy-Coson; SM Prime Independent Director Joselito Sibayan; SM Prime Director and President Jeffrey Lim; SM Prime Chairman Henry Sy Jr.; PSE Chairman Jose Pardo; PSE Directors Edgardo Lacson, Eddie Gobing and Emmanuel Bautista; PSE Chief Operating Officer Roel Refran; and PSE Directors Alejandro Yu and Wilson Sy. Photo: SM Prime Holdings

Asked if joining the company instead of pursuing his own interest was worth it, Sy said "Everyday, knowing that what I do can make a difference to thousands of people, that what makes it worth it."