This De La Salle University graduate was only 22 when he launched a software development company in Canada. But he won over clients’ hesitancy with his aggressiveness and willingness to learn. For him, each new business venture is an opportunity to learn and survive.
Procrastination is a trait Gerry Sy, president and chief executive officer of Intellismart Technology Inc., will never condone. “If not today, then when?” is the query his team can often expect to hear from their hard-driving boss.
“We have performance management systems in place to measure efficiency and quality of performance,” Gerry says. “The longer people stay with me, the more they appreciate the importance of doing things right away and doing things right the first time. It is integrated in our culture. And people acclimatize and adapt in time.”
Gerry values hard work that is led by a sense of urgency and discernment. He expects his employees to deliver what is asked of them, which is to be consistently resourceful and innovative. Apparently, he doesn’t welcome excuses. He pounces on every opportunity to improve and never lets go until he achieves the results he wants. Just when his employees think they can sit back and relax, he will rock the boat to stir their creative juices.
Gerry launched Intellismart Technology in 2001, when the information technology (IT) industry was booming. “Growth was very aggressive. It was a good time to enter [and set up a business],” he recalls.
He was only 22 when he established the software company in Ontario, Canada, to where he moved after completing his behavioral science degree at De La Salle University in 1999. A close family friend there taught him the ropes of operating an enterprise.
Because of his youth, clients were initially unsure if he could meet their requirements. “Building a portfolio was quite difficult for a startup company,” Gerry admits. “We had to get as many prestigious companies and clients on board [as] we could. We had to comply with their demands. We just had to bite the bullet until we made it.”
Gerry also offered his services to the Philippine market, eventually settling in Manila in 2001 when there were only a few players dealing in customized business systems, such as human resources (HR) systems and inventory and accounting/financial systems. To this day, many of his clients remain with Intellismart Technology. “They helped us build our portfolio, credibility and brand,” he says. “They continued to support us as we transitioned from a systems development company to an integrated solutions provider.”
“Having your own business is very fulfilling,” Gerry adds. “You get to celebrate every milestone with a huge sense of satisfaction. Meanwhile, you are accountable for everything, from finances to operations, to sales to importations.”
Running a company like Intellismart Technology is fraught with complex challenges, which Gerry regards as intrinsic to the learning experience. “There are many learning curves and the curves [just] keep going,” he says. “It’s like a roller-coaster ride. Once you get through a slope, you climb another crest. And since we are in the business of integrating technology with the daily lives of our clients and their customers, we never stop.”
“We learn new things every time we acquire a new product or partnership. We learn every time we diversify into a new business venture. Business is [all] about learning curves and incessant learning. The 21st century is about surviving in a fast-paced and constantly changing world. We only survive by learning. We remain relevant by learning new things,” he adds.
Gerry values and appreciates the efforts of his colleagues who put in the hard work. “I set the example,” he stresses. “I believe that my values are communicated to my management team, which translates into the employee’s attitude, and which, in turn, defines the client experience. It all starts with me. Who I am as a business owner reflects the morale of the employees and the client experience.”
Employees who deliver substandard work naturally disappoint Gerry. “Doing their job as a matter of compliance [is not enough]. I want people who think, analyze and innovate,” he says.
To date, Intellismart Technology has forged partnerships with some of the biggest and most trusted global technology brands, including Samsung, Fujitsu, Bosch and Microsoft. “We have a sturdy and resilient relationship founded on respect, trust and loyalty,” Gerry says with pride. “The moment I sign a partnership with a brand, I give them my loyalty. Even if a competing brand approaches me and offers me an alternate deal, I stick with my partners. I support them the way they have always supported me.”
As company owner, Gerry believes each day presents an opportunity for growth. “There is no opting out or resigning from your position. You have to bear the burden. When you become a business owner, you become accountable as well for your employees, their livelihood and their income. If I don’t do my job well, many families will be affected.”
Gerry’s father, who ran a wholesale pharmaceutical business, inspired him to become an entrepreneur. As the youngest of six children, Gerry knows what it’s like to be the center of a close-knit family. He and his wife Jinky Tobiano have four children — Gian, Gio, Julia and Jillian — whom he unequivocally sets aside quality time for. He says: “Unless I am abroad or have a client or partner meeting, I pick up my wife from her office at 5 p.m. every day. Dinner is always reserved for the kids, which is when I give them my undivided attention and the next two hours after that.”
To this corporate leader, commitment to his loved ones and his colleagues is one and the same: dedicated and deep.
My father George Sy and father-in-law July Tobiano. Also, my mentors Romulo and Cristine Dee.
I intend to continue expanding and diversifying my businesses.
FIRST PAYING JOB
The business of my mentors Romulo and Cristine Dee, People are People boutiqe
Anything to do with business
I read a lot of business books or biographies of titans and magnates, influential industrialists, visionaries and people whose ideas were ahead of their time.
AVERAGE TIME SPENT ON SOCIAL MEDIA
I mostly access our new business venture, Stork.Ph, an online shopping site, and our corporate social media assets. As for my personal social media accounts, very little.