The world economy, as we are so often reminded these
days, is borderless: the free flow of capital, technology, knowledge, and even labor can
be restrained by protective governments only in part, and only for so long. Indeed, it now
seems clear that Asia's rising tide of prosperity depends on its ability to compete in the
world. Grasping this truth decades ago, WASHINGTON SYCIP led his consulting company to
preeminence by keeping it abreast of international standards, and by helping others in
Asia do the same. In doing so, he fostered professionalism among the region's new
generation of managers and helped introduce a new basis for mutual respect and
Born in the Philippines in 1921, SYCIP rose through the public school system excelling
from first to last. At fifteen he entered university; by twenty he was a Certified Public
Accountant. Pursuing a masters degree at Columbia University when war broke out, he served
with the United States Army in India and Burma. At war's end he returned to Manila and
launched his accounting firm.
With a partner, Alfredo Velayo, SYCIP worked doggedly to build up a clientele, making ends
meet by teaching accounting in the afternoons and returning to the office for more work at
night, and on Sundays. The company prospered and grew. Merger with another firm in 1953
made them 'SyCip, Gorres and Velayo,' or SGV -- the name that stuck.
As managing partner, SYCIP found a place for SGV helping Philippine companies get off the
ground in the crucial decades after the war. Realizing these embryonic businesses needed
more than accounting and tax services, he recruited specialists of all kinds and placed
them at the service of an increasingly wide range of clients. Their success was his
success. SGV became the largest consulting firm in the Philippines.
In partnership with professional colleagues in Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand and elsewhere,
SYCIP built the pan-Asian SGV Group, beginning in 1964. He sent his best managers to
strengthen the new affiliates and groomed the latent executive talent in neighboring
countries to be world-class managers. Learning was the key. In-house training was an SGV
hallmark; but SYCIP also encouraged his young proteges to seek advanced degrees abroad. As
a result, the SGV Group's consultants outpaced the competition in the Philippines and the
rest of Asia.
SYCIP himself exemplified the excellence of his company and became much in demand as an
adviser and board member to corporations, educational institutions, and professional
organizations around the world. In these positions he won respect for Asian business and,
at the same time, steered new investments to Asia and to the Philippines. Indeed, despite
US citizenship, SYCIP has for decades been one of his native country's most effective
private ambassadors and institution builders. He led in establishing the Asian Institute
of Management, now the region's premier business school, and has been its board chairman
from the beginning. Moreover, through his participation in founding Philippine Business
for Social Progress and, recently, Philippine Business for the Environment, he has engaged
the Philippine business community in meaningful acts of social responsibility.
Today, 71-year-old SYCIP is a restless frequent flyer who raises his voice the world round
on behalf of the Philippines, Asian business, and mutual cooperation. "From
government on down to individuals," he reminds us,"our future prospects are a
function of how effectively we can act together."
In electing WASHINGTON SYCIP to receive the 1992 Ramon Magsaysay Award for International
Understanding, the Board of Trustees recognizes his fostering economic growth and mutual
understanding in Asia through professionalism, public-spirited enterprise, and his own