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Insight: Manny V. Pangilinan Encourages Young Filipinos to take Deliberate Risks in PumaPodcast’s “Playlist ng Buhay Ko”

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – Business tycoon Manny V. Pangilinan recently reassured all employees within his group of companies of job security during the COVID-19 crisis, adding that they will continue to receive full pay and their benefits during the Luzon-wide quarantine. More popularly known as MVP, the titan of Philippine business leads several companies in major infrastructure like power, toll roads, water, railways, and telecommunications.

In the podcast episode “Playlist ng Buhay Ko” by PumaPodcast, MVP shared his life story, filled with wisdom that can only be informed by years of experience—and mistakes.

Here are 5 insights he wishes to impart to the next generation:

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1. Find your own path.
MVP grew up in awe of his father, Dominador Reyes Pangilinan, who retired as the president of Traders Royal Bank.

“I looked up to my father as my role model, and I had expressed on numerous occasions my desire to join [Traders Royal Bank] despite the fact that I have a good job at Phinma. Because I wanted to follow his footsteps. And he has consistently discouraged me from thinking about it. And that hurt me, actually, as a son wanting to be like his dad,” he shares.”

After his father passed away, MVP reflected on why his father didn’t want him to follow

in his footsteps. “When I told him I was going to Hong Kong to work, he did not stop me. He said, ‘Go.’ In fact, he encouraged me,” he says. “I had wanted to prove to myself that I can be personally responsible, personally accountable, and personally successful. Which is what my father wanted me to do rather than hitching my wagon to his star. It’s good to have role models, but at the end of the day you have to be your own person.”

2. Take risks.
MVP says it’s natural for bankers like his father to be conservative and averse to risk. But to make it in business, he believes one needs to be willing to take a chance.

“You have to be aggressive if you mean to stay in this business and grow. You have to take risks. I think that’s simply the nature of the beast,” he says. “Over time I’ve noticed that the entrepreneurs here have become more aggressive, more growth-oriented, and so forth. And I think that has been the engine of this economy.”

3. Work before you pursue graduate studies.
From elementary school all the way to his MBA, MVP studied through scholarships. However, one requirement of his college scholarship was that he had to take his MBA immediately after graduation.

“That was a big mistake. What did I know about life? What did I know about the realities of business?” he asks. “So I was doing merger accounting without knowing what the numbers really meant. I could do the sums, but what did it mean in real life? The impact on people? No sense of it.”

“If you want to take your masters, do it after several years of real life exposure,” he tells the next generation. “Then I think you get a better sense of what it is you’re trying to do with your life.”

4. If you can work abroad, go for it.
MVP calls himself a “proud OFW,” having built his business in Hong Kong before returning to the Philippines. While not all Filipinos may work abroad, he encourages those who can to take the opportunity.

Part of it has to do with getting away from the security of our family. “Our extended family system provides a huge cocoon of comfort. It stifles initiative because you know at the end of the day if you get sick, or lose your job or whatever, you have somebody to fall back on who will support you,” he says.

“Therefore your ability and inclination to take risks is very low and that is a major impediment to entrepreneurship. You cannot teach entrepreneurship without lifting the cultural barriers towards risk taking.”

5. …And then come back.
MVP’s business acumen is underlined by his passion to serve the country and Filipinos.

He encourages Filipinos abroad to return and use their talents to make positive change in the country.

“I think all of us, including the government, must have a reverse immigration policy. We should be attempting to bring OFWs back,” he says. “I think it’s important that we get these talents back even if after so many years—please come back, spend a few months here, teach us what you’ve learned.”

Listen to the full episode of “Playlist ng Buhay Ko” by PumaPodcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen.

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