Next-gen CEO on mentorship and accountability | Inquirer Business

Next-gen CEO on mentorship and accountability

/ 02:10 AM February 22, 2024

(Last of two parts)

Your family really wishes you well,” says Charles “Calel” Gosingtian, president and CEO of Waters Philippines, when he addressed next-generation family business leaders in Mansmith and Fielders’ 8th Entrep Summit weeks ago.

Young people often feel slighted when they are corrected by elders, so I ask Calel to describe personal experiences where he learned valuable lessons without resenting instructions from above.


“When my career in our family business started, I was not yet used to the office culture,” says Calel, “and I did not know what to expect from working with my dad [marketing expert Josiah Go]. No one ever tells you what you are walking into so you really just have to figure it out as you go.


“The first thing I felt was that breaks are not actually breaks, but times for my boss/dad to talk to me about work and ideas. This is not necessarily a good or bad thing. It just got overwhelming for a newbie like me.

“Eventually, I realized that he was just trying to accelerate my growth by throwing all this information at me and that I should treasure these conversations while I can. In reality, every entrepreneur needs to be ready 24/7 and this was another way to communicate that.”

Calel is an uber-entrepreneur. A graduate of hotel, restaurant and institution management at the De La Salle College of St. Benilde, Calel opened the detox retreat Noah Wellness Center and the social enterprise Hustle Café, and partnered with a Cebu roaster to set up a coffee bar.

Calel realizes that opportunities to be mentored by his busy father are precious—I give this same advice to young successors who are impatiently chomping at the bit to take over from their parents.

“A lot of times you also [may] not get to explain [yourself] for one reason or another,” Calel adds. “Your dad could be extremely busy, or it just wasn’t a good time to say your side of the story.

“When this happens, you have two choices—toughen up and fix the problem yourself, or sulk. Again, the reality is the same, and just because he is your dad does not mean that you are exempt.”


“The buck stops here,” says a wooden sign on the desk of former US president Harry Truman. In poker, the buck was a marker which pinpointed the player who was supposed to deal the cards. If the player did not wish to deal, he could pass the buck to the next.

The sign reminded Truman that ultimately, he was responsible for all the actions of his administration. In his farewell address, Truman told the American people, “The President—whoever he is—has to decide. He cannot pass the buck to anybody. No one else can do the deciding for him. That is his job.”Leaders, whether in politics, business, or elsewhere, do well to live by that dictum.

Fortunately, Calel’s father is open to mentoring him wisely.

“He would check my plans before execution until he could more or less be sure that they were reliable,” Calel says. “Afterwards he would just give me a task and let me be. He would let me fail and then process what happened with me. These are styles that I ended up using, too.”

How then can the older generation help the young?

“Elders need to remember that how they work and how they treat others and the next generation is what gets carried over. I suggest professionalizing the business, so discussions will have bases such as [key performance indicators], standards and processes to reduce the emotions attached. A clear system is in place versus a [founder] making all decisions.”

“Elders have to remember that their children have a lot of weight to carry with pressure and society’s expectations, so their job is to make sure they can cross to the other side safely. Give small wins and make them feel productive.”

To his fellow next-generation owners now running the family enterprise, Calel says, “It does get lonely at the top. Have a good support system [with whom you can] share what is happening. Do not keep it all to yourself.”

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Queena N. Lee-Chua is with the board of directors of Ateneo’s Family Business Center. Get her book “All in the Family Business” at Lazada or Shopee, or the ebook at Amazon, Google Play, Apple iBooks. Contact the author at [email protected].

TAGS: All in the Family, CEO

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