Skip navigation

Monthly Archives: September 2012

One of Asia’s most prominent and wealthiest businessmen, John Gokongwei has trekked the long and hard road from poverty to the immense success he now enjoys. Now running John Gokongwei Summit Holdings, Inc. (J.G. Summit Holdings, Inc.), Gokongwei is one of the Philippines’ biggest conglomerates, with interests in consumer foods, property development, real estate, air transportation, power generation, telecommunications, livestock farming, financial services, petrochemicals and the United Industrial Corporation of Singapore. He has been named the third richest person in the country, with some 3.2 billion US dollars to his name.

A native of Fujian, China, Gokongwei’s family escaped to the Philippine province of Cebu in 1927, where Gokongwei’s grandfather, Pedro Gotiaoco, began running movie houses. The family lost their fortune, but Gokongwei’s entrepreneurship surfaced after World War II as he began trading in rice, clothing and scrap metal. Since then, Gokongwei slowly built up his wealth, investing in several companies of different interests in order to maximize the opportunities present. Now, his son, Lance Gokongwei, serves as COO while John Gokongwei himself remains as Chairman Emeritus.


Recognized as bold force in today’s notably competitive web-based marketing sector, Torrence Boone presently leverages his talents to bolster Google Inc.’s digital advertising platforms through his work as Managing Director of Agency Business Development in North America. Boone stepped into his current post in January 2010 and has implemented a number of targeted initiatives since that time, all of which are geared toward strengthening Google’s marketing capabilities in an era of increasingly heightened user expectations. Discussing the foundational aim of Google’s expansion plans, the corporation’s Vice President of Global Agency and Industry Development Penry Price praised Torrence Boone’s professional track record as a leader whose knowledge of industry nuances places him in the ideal position “to help agencies succeed in creating relevant, effective, and scalable advertising that engages consumers.”

Torrence Boone’s resume of career accomplishments dates back to the mid-1990s when he served as a Senior Manager at Bain & Company. In charge of the firm’s pharmaceutical healthcare and consumer products divisions for a productive four-year tenure, Boone focused the bulk of his energy on multifaceted advisory work covering a wide range of areas. Operating primarily as a strategic consultant, Torrence Boone opted to leave Bain & Company in 1999 when digital media darling Razorfish (formerly Avenue A/NYC) offered him the role of Vice President and General Manager. Boone left Razorfish in 2001 to head up the retail, healthcare, and consumer packaged goods (CPG) practices at Digitas Boston. Ready to pursue new challenges after seven years with Digitas, he moved on to function as Chief Executive Officer of Enfatico, an innovative venture funded by tech giant Dell in collaboration with London-headquartered holding company the WPP Group.

Torrence Boone received his Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Stanford University in 1991. He subsequently enrolled at Harvard Business School and earned a Master’s degree in 1995. A former dancer and passionate supporter of the arts, he sits on the board of Manhattan’s Joyce Theater and undertakes additional responsibilities as a member of the organization’s Marketing Committee.

Long evening gowns and red carpet looks are what Oscar Aristides de la Renta Fiallo is best known for. Simply known as Oscar de la Renta, this Dominican fashion designer has become one of the most popular and powerful names in modern fashion. Trained by no other than the famous Cristobal Balenciaga and Antonio Castillo, de la Renta first came to international attention for being one of then-First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy’s couturiers. With several distinguishes to his credit, de la Renta is still a world favorite, especially for glamorous Hollywood events and social affairs.

Born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, to a Dominican mother and Puerto Rican father, Oscar de la Renta grew up in a family embedded in Dominican class, culture, the arts and politics. Oscar left for Spain to study at the Academy of San Fernando in Madrid, Spain, where his interest in fashion led to his sketching for some of the great Spanish fashion houses. He eventually went to work for Balenciaga, Arden, Jane Derby and the House of Balmain, becoming the first Dominican designer to do so.

Oscar de la Renta made the decision to go into ready-to-wear clothing, and branched out to create bridal wear. In the 1970’s, his entrepreneurship added a fragrance and accessories collection, then a range of homeware in 2002. He even designed the boutique hotel Tortuga Bay in the Punta Cana Resort and Club. His talents have been recognized both abroad and in his home country, with two coming from King Juan Carlos of Spain himself.

Aside from his career in fashion, de la Renta has also contributed to various charitable efforts, founding the Casa del Nino Orphanage in La Romana and funding the construction of a school in Punta Cana. While he currently serves on the board of several charitable foundations and institutions for arts and learning like the Metropolitan Opera and the Queen Sofia Spanish Institute, Oscar de la Renta continues to provide people everywhere with quality, ready-made garments.

More known by his professional stage name Dr. Dre, Andre Romelle Young is known to the whole world as one of the biggest American rappers. His reputation in the music industry is enormous: record producer, executive and businessman, having founded Aftermath Entertainment and Beats Electronics, where he currently serves as CEO. Dr. Dre has famously launched the careers of some of the most notable faces in hip-hop music such as Snoop Dogg, Eminem and 50 Cent. He has even been credited with the sudden rise of West Coast G-funk, a certain kind of rap music.

Dr. Dre started out as part of the World Class Wreckin Cru, later he went on to establish his name alongside the gangsta rap group, N.W.A. Having won a Grammy Award in 1993 and with several solo albums to his name, Dr. Dre has been ranked by Forbes magazine as the third richest person in hip-hop, with an estimated net worth of 250 million US dollars.

The trademark pageboy hair and huge sunglasses – there can only be one name resounding throughout the fashion industry at the mere mention of this: Anna Wintour. Known worldwide as the Editor-in-Chief of American fashion magazine Vogue since 1988, Anna Wintour has become an institution in high fashion, her name synonymous with leadership and a powerful drive to succeed. In fact, Wintour is legendary for her demanding, closed-off personality, garnering her the moniker, “Nuclear Wintour” in fashion circles.

Born in England, Anna Wintour started her career in fashion journalism through her father, Charles Wintour, then-editor of the London Evening Standard. She then began writing for British magazines, after which she moved to the United States and began writing for American publications. It was in New York City that Wintour got to sink her teeth into the business, going from junior fashion editor at Harper’s Bazaar to fashion editor of magazine New York. Her eye for style and flair for photoshoots started gaining notice, and she entered Vogue initially as its very first creative director. After a year, she was heading the magazine, making drastic changes to the staff, content and overall look of Vogue. Soon enough, the magazine began attracting the attention and support of thousands of American women who were able to relate to Anna Wintour’s reinvention of the industry.

Over the years, Anna Wintour’s clout became bigger and broader, setting trends everywhere and putting the spotlight on young designers. Her influence is such that she is able to persuade various businessmen and other leading names and personalities to her point of view. Boasting a salary of some reported two million US dollars a year, Anna Wintour has even been the supposed figure on which the popular novel-turned-movie, The Devil Wears Prada”, was based on. Despite retirement rumors, Anna Wintour still holds the dominant position not only in Vogue, but also in her comfort zone – fashion.

Who would dare forget the animated films Toy Story, Cars, Up, Monster’s Inc., and Finding Nemo? These are just some of the most outstanding products of Pixar Animation Studios which is now headed by Edwin Catmull.

Born on March 31, 1945, Edwin Catmull may not have imagined how successful he would really be but one thing is for sure: he has the capacity to be, and he did. He is among the pioneers of computer animation, which innovated how the animated films, loved by children and the children-at-heart, are developed. He began his colorful career in 1975 as the director of the Computers Graphics Lab and in 1979, he served as the vice president of the Computer Division, Ltd. His success at Pixar began when he co-founded the company and became its chief technical officer in 1986 and from 2001 until today, he has maintained the company’s notable reputation and continues to lead the company to greatness.

While we tend to think of entrepreneurs as Harvard or Stanford MBAs with high-tech backgrounds, they come in all shapes, sizes, and nationalities and from all educational backgrounds. They produce a product or service that never existed before in just that way and in the process, ideally, make the world a better place. Take Rabbi Leib Tropper. He established Horizons, an outreach program introducing unaffiliated individuals to the rewarding Torah lifestyle. Acting as the program’s Director, he lectured and taught throughout the United States, in metropolitan areas and in remote towns. Rabbi Leib Tropper also traveled overseas on his mission, to such intellectual centers as London, Paris, and Berlin.

Not focused on a particular product or service, we might call the rabbi an entrepreneur of the soul. In another effort, he embraced the Israeli project Character First, centered on promoting exemplary character among students and other young adults. In this area, he researched the topic and wrote about it, with the goal of creating an awareness of its importance. As part of his efforts, Rabbi Tropper gathered testimonials to include in his materials. Educators, business leaders, and other rabbis have provided support, praising the project.

Like business entrepreneurs, the rabbi continues to research and learn, expanding his own horizons as he seeks to illuminate others. While he may take a low-tech approach, Rabbi Tropper possesses the traditional entrepreneur’s communications skills, discipline, and strong work ethic. Action oriented and the ultimate networker, he remains optimistic and sees opportunity in challenges. He also tempers his passion with patience and tenacity. Most importantly, perhaps, an entrepreneur of the soul such as Leib Tropper can visualize the invisible, the ideal, as he endeavors to reach it.

Founding member of Horizons outreach program, Leib Tropper.

As the founder of TOMS Shoes, Blake Mycoskie has undoubtedly garnered worldwide admiration and popularity. But in a nutshell, what does it take to become successful in both entrepreneurship and charity? What made Blake Mycoskie generate the idea behind Toms, that is, for every pair of shoe bought by their customers, one less fortunate individual gets his or her own pair, too?

Blake is not a newbie when it comes to business. He is a dynamic businessman who has explored different industries, from laundry to media; driving school to, guess what, the lifestyle business TOMS.

After adding two successful businesses to his credentials, he penetrated the world of reality TV. With his sister Paige as his teammate, Blake ran The Amazing Race. However, time was not on their side and came up four minutes late to grab the grand prize. This inspired Blake to establish cable TV channel Reality 24/7, providing all-day access to reality programs and news.

After the ended cable TV venture (Rupert Murdoch’s reality TV channel gave an end to Blake’s), he created DriversEdDirect together with DriversEdDirect is a driving school that features Hybrid cars, manned by hip instructors. Then, he founded the Closer Marketing Group which mainly aimed to further promote DriversEdDirect.

In 2006, while he was on vacation in South America, Blake discovered the Alpargata design, also known as the espadrilles. It is a type of rope-soled shoes traditionally worn by Argentine farmers. He saw the potential that the Alpargata poses for business. However, at the same time, he also saw poverty manifested in how poor people are to not afford decent footwear.

As Blake returned to Los Angeles with a business idea and 250 pairs of espadrilles shoes on his bag, he gradually developed TOMS Shoes. After successfully selling 10,000 pairs solely from his apartment, Blake went back to Argentina with some friends, and gave the same number of pair of shoes to children from poor families – to fulfill the mission behind the continually booming company TOMS Shoes.

Who wouldn’t have heard of the online news website, the Huffington Post? Indeed, almost everyone who has been exposed and has access to the Internet has heard of this eponymous site. However, not everyone may know who is the man – or woman, rather – behind it. Yes, this prestigious and well-known news site was established by a woman who deserves to be known by the world.

Arianna Huffington is a Greek-born journalist, author, politician, and entrepreneur. She established the Huffington Post with Kenneth Lerer in 2005, two years after she lost the governatorial race in California.

For 11 years, she was married to Michael Huffington, a known oil tycoon and then Republican politician. However, for Arianna, her political direction needed to take a different route. This gave birth to the Huffington Post as a political blog aimed at Democrats prior to expanding its content to news. As it did, it began attracting about 25 million visitors monthly.

Arianna was born in Athens. She moved to England at age 16. At Cambridge, she led the Cambridge Union debating society as its president before she graduated with a Master’s Degree in Economics in 1972.

She published her first book, The Female Woman, in 1973. After that, she wrote 12 more books with issues ranging from self-help to Greek mythology, biographies, and to political satires.

She got involved with several relationships including that with the late Bernard Levin who used to be a Times columnist. Their relationship lasted for about 10 years before Arianna moved to New York in the 1980s. In 1986, she married Michael Huffington. They moved to Washington where Michael pursued a political career. Arianna gained popularity as his husband ran – and lost the senatorial race in 1994. The marriage ended in divorce in 1997. She is now residing in Los Angeles with her daughters.

After losing the governorship in 2003 to actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, she focused in journalism and put up The Huffington Post. It opened more opportunities for recognition. In 2006, she was listed as one of Time’s 100 most influential people in the world. She was also ranked 28th on Forbes’s list of the world’s most powerful women.

P.T Barnum started out his business career with a weekly paper called the Herald of Freedom. He managed it for five years but eventually gave it up and entered the entertainment business with desire to please people with interesting shows. He put together his first troupe called “Barnum’s Grand Scientific and Musical Theatre” and performed in front of crowds. He soon purchased the Scudders American Museum and started coming up with shows that displayed hoaxes which captured the interest and attention of people from all walks of life. The main attractions of Barnum’s museum included General Tom Thumb, the two famous Siamese Twins, Chan and Eng, and the giantess, Anna Swan. He also built the first aquarium in United States and brought in several more “freak exhibits” into the country. Soon enough, his museum was already drawing in more than 500,000 people in a year.

When a fire destroyed his museum, Barnum decided to quit the business and started writing several best-selling books. But he soon realized that his thirst for putting up grand shows was not yet quenched, so he created a circus, which later on became known as “World’s Greatest Show”. His circus merged with James Bailey’s and became a three-ring extravaganza. Barnum also bought the largest elephant ever caught, Jumbo, and made the circus a massive hit. Barnum and Bailey’s circus skyrocketed to fame and has entertained millions of viewers all over United States during its entire existence.