SM heiress stands out on Forbes Asia’s A-list


Teresita Sy-Coson, the woman who led Banco de Oro Unibank’s growth from a niche player to the country’s largest bank, landed on Forbes’ inaugural list of “Asia’s 50 Power Businesswomen.”

Lisa Gokongwei-Cheng, daughter of taipan John Gokongwei, also landed on Forbes’ list of 15 “Women to Watch” in Asia.

In the March edition of Forbes Asia was a list of 50 “noteworthy pathbreakers.” Sy, 61, was the only one from the Philippines who made it to the elite list of women described as “part of an increasing force in the region’s remarkable economic rise.”

Sy, daughter of the Philippines’ richest man Henry Sy, was also featured on the magazine’s cover. In a text message, Sy said the citation would inspire her to “keep on going.”

“Power can be defined as shaping a significant part of the business environment. Some of these women are founders, and some have moved into key roles in family enterprises, while others have scaled the executive ranks as professional managers. If business success is often a mixture of capital, ideas, energy and leadership, these 50 tend to sport such a combination,” the magazine said as it unveiled the list.

The eldest of six children, Sy is the vice chair of the family’s holding firm SM Investments Corp., the country’s leading conglomerate. SMIC dominates banking, retailing and shopping mall development in the Philippines and is also a fast-growing player in residential and tourism property development.

In the Forbes cover story, Sy was quoted as saying she’s not the only one running things and that all her siblings were involved as well.

She views her role as more of a manager. “I was not meant to lead the group. Even now I am not leading—I maintain the core.”

The article said being Henry Sy’s daughter had “given her a head start, but it also meant she had to work harder and be smarter, to battle the preconception that she had inherited the position.”

Also, Gokongwei-Cheng, 43, is president of publishing firm Summit Media. She is the only woman from the Philippines to make it on the list of 15 “Women to Watch.” Forbes described them to be “primed to bust the bamboo ceiling.”  Doris C. Dumlao

Get Inquirer updates while on the go, add us on these apps:

Inquirer Viber

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • Jose Hernani Parco

    i really love the part of the story, when she was a 5 year old kid, how her Grandpa would always love to take her to the bank ( Equitable Bank ) and just watch while he goes about his business! who would know Grandpa and Granddaughter will be the future owner of this bank?!
    then at age 8 she was already helping out selling shoes! and experienced for herself some hurt feelings when asked how old she was and there she’s already working!
    i will not be surprised either when the time comes for her to start to build her buildings for i am sure it will be a cut different from the current pretentiously named condos!
    and yes Ma’am Tessie the sky will not be the only limit for you, the stratosphere maybe! cheers!

  • Jose Hernani Parco

    mabuhay ka Ma’am Tessie!

To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.

Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:

c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City,Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


editors' picks



latest videos