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From Wharton student to warehouse boy: Lance Gokongwei earned just P2,300 as a newbie in family biz

Long before becoming the president and COO of JG Summit Holdings, Lance Gokongwei worked long hours at the warehouse of the family owned Universal Robina Corp. even though he’s already the “COO” or “child of owner.”

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Gokongwei looked back at his early days in the family business in a chat with fellow bilyonaryo Jaime Augusto Zobel De Ayala in an episode of BPI Preferred’s “After Six” vlog.

The son of the late bilyonaryo John Gokongwei said he was given a job at the URC warehouse when he was on a break as a student at the elite Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

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Gokongwei said the job was an ego check since his classmates spent their working days at Wall Street.

“When I was an upcoming junior, I spent the summer in the warehouse of our department store. Here I was, a high-flying Wharton student — and my job was to put the price tags on to like, underwear, or jeans,” he recalled.

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“All my friends were going, ‘Oh, I got a job in Goldman Sachs, in Morgan Stanley, McKinsey,’ all the top jobs in the US,” Gokongwei shared. “I got a great job working for my father in Universal Robina Corporation. I was a salesman there and I remember my first paycheck, it was P2,300.”

Gokongwei said his father later gave him a company car, but it wasn’t a luxury four-wheel drive. What he got was a 20-year-old Datsun, the value of which had long depreciated then.

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The experience of starting at the bottom proved useful for Gokongwei as he steers JG Summit to greater heights.

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