Eusebio H. Tanco

Eusebio H. Tanco's energy and charisma are evident when one meets him in person. And these qualities serve him in good stead with the myriad things he has on his plate. He is titular head in diverse and numerous companies, with corporate experience in education, insurance and transportation, as well as other industries.

Primarily, Mr. Tanco is executive committee chairman of STI Education Services Group. He also heads Philippine Life Financial Assurance Corporation and Philippines First Insurance Company, Inc. He is likewise vice-chairman and president of port operator Asian Terminals, president of electricity distributor Mactan Electric Company, and president of stock brokerage firm Venture Securities, Inc. He holds key positions in other companies and organizations as well.

Mr. Tanco has a Master's degree in Economics from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and an undergraduate Economics degree from the Ateneo de Manila University. In this short tete-a-tete with Business Agenda, the tycoon shares insights on what makes him tick.

Business Agenda: At this point in your life and career, how much time do you devote to work and how much time to other interests?

Eusebio Tanco: Work is my interest so I don't think you can separate the two. There's a fine line between workaholism and insomnia...

BA: What is the role you play in the organization? And what is your work style and basic work ethic?

Mr. Tanco: I am more of the visionary. As John F. Kennedy said, ''Some men see things as they are and ask why. I dream things that never were and ask why not.''

I sit down with my people and talk about my vision. At this point, we've created wealth, a lot of material things. With STI, you want to pass on what you earn to the less fortunate. Our market is mostly the broad C market and I feel that if you educate, you reach out and help.

As for work ethic, my father would say, if you want to be successful in business, you cannot work from nine to five. You have to take it to sleep till you have nightmares about it...there is no time limit.

BA: How did you end up being involved in education, mostly in IT schools?

Mr. Tanco: My family started in the manufacturing sector...we were the biggest in the textile industry, until we lost competitiveness and decided to go into the service sector, where education is very important because we're a fast-growing population. And with the rise of the BPOs, education and skills are needed. Education is the equalizer of income disparity.

BA: What sets Asian Terminals apart as a transport company?

Mr. Tanco: The port operation is an indication of the consumption and growth of an economy. It measures the trade of the country. Importation this year, from July to August, was the highest volume ever in the industry of imports. Asian Terminal has been around for over 10 years, and we're only as good as the growth of the country.

BA: Do you personally invest in the stock market? Any tips?

Mr. Tanco: You look at the fundamentals of the companies before you invest. And yes, I play the stock market, as a sport.

BA: What is your energy source or driving force for the many things you do?

Mr. Tanco: I have a lot of people helping me. Multi-tasking is not exactly the right way of doing things, but if you have the right people, more or less you can do it.

BA: Are there any causes you support? What is your choice avenue for giving back?

Mr. Tanco: Education. STI currently has 72,000 to 75,000 students. We intend to round it up to 100,000 next year. We will build 10 more campuses by next year. The goal is to get graduates to be employed at a higher quality, raising the standards of education for students and educators. The challenge is a strong management team and a strong IT backroom, plus strong marketing.

BA: I am told your favorite mode of unwinding is singing. What kind of songs are in your repertoire?

Mr. Tanco: Anything from Frank Sinatra to Jason Mraz and Bruno Mars.