Lessons from Prof. Nonoy Espeleta of Cebu
In last Friday’s column, Prof. Bobbi Roberto shared with us his entrepreneur-teacher journey. It was a difficult journey because he grew up in a very poor family. For us teachers, another set of enlightening lessons comes from Prof. Nonoy Espeleta, who was a corporate executive for many years before he became an entrepreneur-teacher.
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As a chemical engineer, I first worked in several manufacturing companies where I wanted to become a topnotch corporate executive. That’s a professional development goal. That’s where we all must start.
To become a topnotch executive, I worked with a mindset of finding solutions to other people’s work problems almost with a passion for enabling and mentoring them. These were my co-employees, suppliers, distributors, franchisees in the business organizations where I worked and even in the church where I was deeply involved.
After working in manufacturing companies, I decided to hone my managerial skills. So I took up an MBA at the Asian Institute of Management.
For me, what I learned from my MBA was a necessary preparation for my eventual journey to entrepreneurship.
Over the first 15 years of my executive career, I made myself deeply entrenched in dealing with (mostly) Chinese entrepreneurs. These were in the areas of business development, sales of fast-moving consumer goods, distributorship, franchising and new business ventures. Most of these enterprises were family-managed. Working with them developed in me the entrepreneurial acumen.
In all these companies, transforming mindsets and practices of managers was for becoming “corporate entrepreneurs.” These were essentially for the skills of spotting opportunities and for translating strategic and business plans into P& L and balance sheet realities!
First journey as entrepreneur
I decided to retire at 40. My many years as corporate executive told me I should venture into FMCG distributorship and trading. And I did. Because I’ve learned how to manage meager capital, the business was profitable.
That was until my major accounts defaulted in their payables! Those failures counted as my “tuition fees.” The wisdom I gained afterwards guided my later business successes. I then came to realize that I was not good in starting businesses from scratch. My core expertise was more in growing and sustaining established businesses! To learn and accept what you do not know and what you know is an important career life lesson.
In the past 18 years, I have found that coaching entrepreneurs—especially in “professionalizing”—was the way to help them level up and to adopt what successful corporation do in growing and sustaining their businesses. I have seen that the most challenging yet with the greatest impact is with family enterprises.
Helping family business is not as straightforward as it is in the well-structured corporations.
“Shepherding” and a family orientation that I derived from the BLD (Bukas Loob sa Diyos) spiritual formation enabled me to handle complex family issues haunting most family corporations. Some company clients became national brands, operated nationwide, garnered awards, and became very profitable! Sadly, I saw downturn performances among those who chose to go on their own before they were ready.
Retiring as entrepreneur-mentor
At 50, I took a second retirement. Amid options to take lucrative job offers, I chose to do what I dreamt of doing at 60! So I formally founded Famcor Franchise Management and Executive Development Corporation “to help family-run corporations achieve their highest and best potential by crafting their strategic business growth roadmaps while handholding them to sustain family unity in phases of ownership, leadership and management transitions.”
This became my retirement advocacy. It is also now financing the growth of my consulting company as well as my venturing in new businesses. As my relationship with my mentees deepened, some of them provided me with business opportunities that I could operate on the side and managed by my wife and children.
I counted it as an achievement to have been invited last year to teach as adjunct professor at the Asian Institute of Management. I started as a guest lecturer in 2008 until the engagement became very frequent. I taught short courses for executives and entrepreneurs.
The expertise I shared included Professionalization, Succession Planning and Governance in Managing Family Corporations. Other areas I coached and mentored students and clients alike included Entrepreneurship, Franchising, Strategic Planning and Execution, Entrepreneurial Finance and Organizational and Culture Development.
I gained credence in teaching because of my experience in helping entrepreneurs and family corporations in leveling up. The classroom was a more straightforward venue for teaching but most often, my coaching and mentoring tasks were done in the boardrooms, conference halls and even in the mentees’ workplaces.
I am Cebu-based, but I travel frequently to Manila and around the Visayas and mindanao, speak in universities, organize learning sessions both for the public as well as exclusive for companies or family corporations.
Am I really rich?
I may not qualify as a rich entrepreneur, but just like Doc Ned, I have enough.
I only feel inadequate when I am unable to help others as much as I want to. In fact, some friends told me that I cannot be rich in this advocacy. But I value my wealth from my coaching and mentoring of family corporations and entrepreneurs plus the respect and influence accorded to me in the business, academe and church communities.
Keep your questions coming. Send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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