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By Maya Baltazar Herrera Published on Manila Standard on October 11, 2017. This second week of October began with sad news for the Asian Institute of Management and many members of the business community. Washington Z. Sycip, bom 30 June 1921, passed away on the 7th of October 2017 while on a connecting flight. It is unsuprising that Wash passed away while inthe middle of something, He was never one to simply mark time. He was constantly prodding those around him to do more, and especially to do more to help the country and the world. I remember he used to remind all of us at AIM that his retirement from SGV meant he could work with AIM full-time Mission Wash, as he is fondly known to those of us who have had the great privilege of working with him, is probably best known for having founded Sycip, Gortes, Velayo & Co. (SGV), Perhaps less known but more far-reaching are his involvement in the founding of the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) and the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP). It makes sense that Wash was instrumental in the founding of three seemingly radically different organizations, He was always involved in both business, policy and development. Throughout his life, Wash championed the role of management and business in the economic development of the Philippines and Asia. That SGV came to be can be traced to a conversation Wash had with his father after he was reunited with his family the end of the Japanese occupation of the Philippines. In the biography "Only a Bookkeeper", Wash quotes his father's advice concerning where to turn his sights: "Son, there's a lot of work to be done here with reconstruction" Wash, who then had a lucrative job waiting for him in New York, decided to stay. To the question of what to do next, his answer was clear. "At the time, the big companies were British firms. Those firms were all Caucasians, and they had a fairly general policy that partners were Caucasians. From my viewpoint, I was as good anyone and should be subjected to discrimination in my own country". This drive not just to get things done to stand for something was a trait that would continue to define Wash all of the organizations he helped found. Values Those who know Wash have worked closely with him will likely repeat the same things about what he stood for. He believed in education. SGV's early partnership with Arthur Andersen was at least in part cemented by the American company's belief in a formal education program for its staff. This belief in constantly learning something new led to his involvement in the founding of the Asian Institute of Management, which became the first school to offer an MBA in Asia. Wash believed in hard work. Many of those who worked in SGV tell tales about how he was always one of the earliest at work and one of the latest to leave work. In fact, Wash continued to come in early to work on his many involvements even after his formal retirement. Wash believed in not wasting time or resources. Wash was Chairman of the AIM Board of Trustees when I was CFO of AIM. Our meetings were precise and to the point. To our discussions, he brought an eagle eye and a sharp mind. While his questions were pointed, my experience with him was that he would always eventually listen to reason. Wash is often described as honest to a fault. He demanded an unyielding integrity. He used to say: "If there is one — and only one — message I would like you all to remember for the rest of your lives, it is this: Be a person of integrity!" Legacy In the later part of his life, Wash's most abiding passions had to do with a fight for education, integrity (especially of managers and public servants), and the development of Asia. To all of these things, he brought not only his personal resources but his influence and his network of friends and supporters. While it is easy to saythat Wash had confidence and courage, it is important to understand that he was very much the businessman. His letter to Fred Velayo encouraging him to come back home ends with this exhortation: "... make up your mind — be your own boss — and come to virgin territory!" Wash had that amazing ability to both see the big picture and pick up on small details. At the Asian Institute of Management, we always saw Wash as both an optimist and a pragmatist. In many ways, AIM was the embodiment of his belief in the Asian future. Wash was able to see AIM grow to be one of the best business schools in Asia Pacific. He was to oversee the Institute grow and struggle. At the end, he was able to see the Institute embark upon its current path, one that strikes out into the territory of the future one that acknowledges the important role business and entrepreneurs have on economic development and one that embraces learning about the best tools available. Today, as I write this, I imagine him looking at us from the side of the veil, still asking about goals and performance and progress. In my mind's eye, I see him looking at AIM's new school, the School for Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship (SITE). I like to think that he would look at all of AIM's new initiatives to grasp the future, at the programs on entrepreneurship, innovation and data sciences. I like to think he would look at these programs and give us that quiet nod and srmle. Rest in Peace, Wash. We will do our best to live to your example. For more information on AIM's new programs, please go to Readers can email Maya at Or visit her site at For academic publications, Maya uses her full name, Maria Elena Baltazar Herrera.
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By Mr. Jose Y. Dalisay Jr. Originally Published on Business World, S1-10, Philippine Daily Inquirer, B3-3, The Philippine Star, B14 on October 10, 2017. Washington Z. SyCip was born in Manila on June 30, 1921 to Albino SyCip and Helen Bain. He spent his earliest years with his grandparents in Shanghai, but returned to Manila at age six, and was enrolled in Padre Burgos Elementary School and Victorino Mapa High School before entering the University of the Philippines. He later moved to the University of Sto. Tomas from where he graduated with a degree in Accounting, summa cum laude, at age 17. He passed the CPA exam at 18 and took his master's degree but was too young to be given a professional license, so he went to Columbia University in the United States for his PhD.  His studies were interrupted, however, by the outbreak of the war. Believing—mistakenly as it turned out—that his father, a prominent banker, had been killed by the Japanese—Wash signed up with the US Army. Discovering his outstanding intellect, the Army moved him from the infantry to intelligence work, an assignment that also required him to assume American citizenship. He spent most of the war as a cryptographer breaking Japanese codes from a base in Calcutta, India.  After the war, Wash returned to the Philippines and, realizing the great opportunities and needs in postwar reconstruction, opened his own accounting firm, W. SyCip & Co., in 1946. This briefly became SyCip Jose Velayo & Co. and later SyCip Gorres Velayo & Co., where he was joined by his lifelong friend and partner Alfredo M. Velayo. In 1948, he married his childhood friend Anna Yu, and they would have three children: Vicky, George, and Robert.  SGV would go on under Wash SyCip's leadership to become the Philippines' largest accounting firm, attracting generations of topnotch CPAs and managers and lending its expertise to the country's and Southeast Asia's leading corpo-rations. In 1985, to expand its global reach and skills, SGV partnered with Arthur Andersen, and in 2002 with Ernst & Young.  All throughout, Wash's uncompromising integrity and keen business sense established him as the country's top advisor to Presidents, business leaders, and civil society advocates, and as the Philippines' best and most credible representative to the international business community. He sat on the boards of many Philippine and international companies and foundations, and his broad global network brought enormous economic and social benefits to the Philippines.  In 1968, with support from the Ford Foundation, Harvard University, Ateneo de Manila University, and De La Salle University, and with the help of his friends Ramon del Rosario, Eugenio Lopez, and the Ayala family, SyCip founded the Asian Institute of Management (AIM), one of the region's prime business schools.  After his retirement in 1996, he became a strong advocate of poverty alleviation, public health, microfinance, and basic education, working with organizations like the Center for Agriculture and Development-Mutually Reinforcing Institutions or CARD-MRI to provide small renewable loans to poor families to prevent school dropouts.  More than the pioneer and titan of Philippine accounting that many knew him to be, Washington SyCip was a tireless advocate of Filipino development and culture, a firm believer in the Filipino's ability and resourcefulness to succeed even in the most difficult circumstances, with adequate support and proper leadership. Throughout his long and storied life, he always thought and acted as a true global Filipino.  By Mr. Jose Y. Dalisay, Jr. Author of "Wash: Only a Bookkeeper" 
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