“Success is temporary! Once you feel and think that it is permanent, that signals your imminent slide downward,” said Enrique matter-of-factly as he promptly jolted our interest during our Knowledge Enrichment Program (KEP) session. “But, mind you,” he added, “failure is a necessary antecedent to success, which I will explain a bit more as we tackle this interesting topic of entrepreneurship.”
We were privileged to have with us on April 13 Mr. Enrique Gonzales, a widely known Filipino entrepreneur and game-changer who made his mark early even as he was in United States still in his early 20’s, a passion he carried through quickly in the Philippine setting with breakthrough-type of ventures he introduced.
Enrique holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Politics and Economics from Middlebury College, attended the program for Masters in Entrepreneurship at the Asian Institute of Management, and completed Business courses from Sophia University in Tokyo . These academic backgrounds notwithstanding, he gives the impression that the entrepreneur in him seemed inborn. “I simply want to create change; can’t stand the status quo and will never be good in a 9 to 5 environment,” he admitted – a propensity he said he had very early in life.
Enrique dabbled in investment banking to learn its mechanics and probably, its mystery, especially about its more glamorous aspect of fund-raising. This gave him a kind of framework and impetus to pursue his pace-setting ventures in the technology space. He was only 27 when his company, IPVG, was listed in the Philippine Stock Exchange. Since then, Enrique has listed two more companies in the PSE, IP Converge Data Center, which is the information and telecommunications subsidiary of IPVG, and IP E-Games, the online gaming unit of IPVG that bought ePLDT’s 75 percent stake in Digital Paradise which operates Netopia, Philippines’ largest and fastest growing internet café chain. He holds the exclusive franchise for the Highlands Coffee. And most recently, he played a major role in bringing in the NBA Store to the Philippines.
For Enrique, there are three necessary factors to succeed in a business venture: a strong leader, a clear vision, and a strong team to execute the vision.
To be a leader, one has to be trustworthy and decisive to lead others. The people who would work for him needs to feel secure that there is a clear company goal or direction that they would take on as a team. A strong leader also has to be confident and enthusiastic about work and life, in general. A confident leader would inspire its people to be the best that they can be, to do their best and not be a mediocre.
And of course, this leader must have the heart and passion towards everyone’s success. In case of adversity, this leader shall remain focused and calm to confront or veer away from the oncoming torrents that would threaten its steady course. His priority is that every person in his team succeeds equally with the business. He then shared his biggest regret when he had to sell off one of his earlier tech ventures and had to let go of what he considers the strongest team he ever had.
A clear vision is a must; just as building a strong team to execute the strategies with which to pursue the vision.
Enrique cautioned that succeeding with a new business venture masks many hidden traps and obstacles. It takes time, hard work, patience, capital and sticking to your goals. He himself struggled and failed many times, thus pointing out that failures have been a good teacher. It’s only after failing does one earn the right to be successful, he stressed in no uncertain terms.
So inspired by Enrique’s no-holds-barred narratives, speaking from the heart based on his personal experiences, we couldn’t seem to wait our turn to ask him our burning questions. It was easily one of our best KEP sessions, thanks to Enrique who so willingly shared his many gems of wisdom, all practical as they are all philosophical as well – probably a kind of mindset only a few are endowed with but which is within reach by the many who would so strive for it.
Our best take-away from the session is clearly that we must earn the right to be successful.
Jennefer B. Cases
Search Consultant and KEP Coordinator