Born in Manila on June 30, 1921 to Albino and Helen SyCip, Washington SyCip would go on to become one of the foremost practitioners of accounting in the Philippines and Asia, as well as a prime advocate of closer cooperation between the Philippines, the United States, Europe and Asia.
He passed the examination for Certified Public Accountants at age 18, but was too young to receive a professional license to practice. He decided instead to take his PhD in the United States at Columbia University. SyCip was working on his doctoral dissertation when Pearl Harbor and Clark Air Base were bombed. He returned to Manila at the war’s end to be reunited with his family. Seeing great opportunities in the country’s postwar reconstruction, he set up his own accounting firm, W. SyCip & Co., in Binondo. As the business grew, SyCip with his longtime friend Alfredo M. Velayo, renamed the firm SyCip, Gorres, Velayo & Co. (SGV).
After retiring from SGV in 1996, he continues to be active in business and civic endeavors, and sits on the board of many Philippine and international companies and foundations. His advocacies include the improvement of public education, micro finance and entrepreneurship, and public health. He is relentless in his pursuit to help alleviate poverty. A staunch believer in Filipino talent, SyCip is also an avatar of economic freedom.
He is credited with "Filipinizing" accountancy in the Philippines, growing SGV locally and regionally through a focus on meritocracy and professional development, and pioneering the Business Process Outsourcing industry through the company now known as Accenture. Wash is also instrumental in the founding of the Management Association of the Philippines, Asian Institute of Management, and the Makati Business Club, all of which were founded to promote education, best practices and the exchange of ideas. Truly, Mr. SyCip is a visionary and one of the titans of Philippine Business.
The RVR Award, launched in 2009, recognizes distinguished individuals who have answered the call to serve society first, because they are worthy of the honor, and second, to motivate others to emulate their example. This second objective of the Awards Program represents a fitting commemoration of the late Ambassador Ramon V. del Rosario's own legacy of service to the nation.
In 1946, SyCip established SGV & Co after his stint with the US Army and after earning a degree in Columbia Business School. SGV is the Philippines’ largest and oldest accounting firm that audits a large number of publicly listed companies in the Philippine Stock Exchange.
In 1966, SyCip established the SGV Foundation for community and social development and to provide support and financial assistance for education and entrepreneurship.
SyCip founded The Asian Institute of Management (AIM), an international business school in Makati, in partnership with Harvard Business School and the Ford Foundation. He also established the Washington SyCip Graduate School of Business to develop future leaders in the country.
In 2006, Ayala Land developed the Washington SyCip Park to recognize the outstanding contributions of SyCip to the business community. It was launched on June 30, 2006 as part of SyCip’s 85th birthday celebration.
Washington SyCip has left a great mark in the Philippines’ business community. He has influenced not only leaders but educators and students as well. Indeed, the ‘Grand Old Man of Philippine Business’ was a true torch-bearer for the next generation of leaders.