Success in Numbers: Get to Know 3 Big Names in the Accounting and Finance World


Behind every great company is a talented accountant. Get to know these 3 accomplished Filipino leaders who shine best in the world of numbers.

It’s tax season once again, which means that everyone will be scrambling to finalize their tax returns before the filing deadlines. Likewise, if you own a large business or lead a big corporation, you will be relying once again on the expertise of your trusted accounting firm to sort out your company’s financial details.

Accounting is oftentimes called the language of business. It’s the language that CEOs and their managers use to communicate the company’s financial condition and results of operations to interested parties—like investors, shareholders, banks, creditors, and government regulatory agencies.

This article highlights 3 accomplished Filipino leaders who have risen to the top of the largest finance and accounting firms in the Philippines. They’re my go-to persons whenever I need financial and accounting advice. After all, these leaders are not just smart individuals, but they’re also good at explaining things clearly.

Let us get to know these successful business leaders as they can inspire us on a personal level!


Marivic Españo: Chairperson & CEO of P&A Grant Thornton

“I believe we all have abilities, expertise, or information that can help others.”

Maria Victoria C. Españo

Why did you choose a career in accountancy?

I’ve always enjoyed mathematics and science, which is why I chose mathematics as my undergraduate major. However, I’ve found that it’s the application of mathematics to real-world problems that really excites me. Accounting, on the other hand, is the language of business. As a result, the intersection of these two fields is the ideal field for me.

What abilities, traits, or characteristics helped you succeed in your career?

  1. Due diligence and perseverance in understanding business challenges, as well as a strong desire to consider different stakeholder perspectives. This aids in the discovery of solutions that address the parties’ primary goals.
  2. Willingness to learn new skills and be open to new ideas.
  3. The ability to collaborate with people from a variety of backgrounds and fields of expertise.

Describe the best day of your life.

I can’t recall a specific day, but I can explain it. It’s a day when everything goes according to plan because everyone worked hard, gave their all, and we all had a good time. So, a perfect day could be a significant occasion, such as our company’s anniversary celebration, or a simple Sunday when I can tend to my plants with the help of my children and then make lunch or dinner for them.

My wedding day is a more particular example of one of my favorite days. My family, close relatives, and a select set of acquaintances attended the little wedding. What made it extra meaningful for me was that I was out of the country three months before the wedding for a training program in Taiwan. I was remotely overseeing all of the preparations, which was a challenge because the internet was still not extensively utilized at the time, and we didn’t have Viber or Facebook. Calls to other countries were similarly costly.

My spouse was coordinating the arrangements with my family and friends. Everything was ready by the time I returned. Our wedding day went off without a hitch, and we all had a great time!

What are the three things that you are grateful for?

I am grateful for everything in my life and consider myself to be quite fortunate. I am grateful to my family for their unwavering support. I’m grateful to my parents for instilling in my siblings and myself the values of education and hard work that they instilled in us. P&A has provided me with the opportunity to study and grow as a professional and a leader. My mentors, Ben Punongbayan and Vic Mamalateo, and I are lucky to be working with wonderful colleagues at the Firm. Working at P&A also allowed me to travel to new areas and interact with individuals from various cultures.

Who or what inspires you the most, apart from your family?

I appreciate assisting individuals or organizations in identifying solutions to their challenges in order to achieve their objectives. I feel that we are all endowed with abilities or with knowledge or information that could be beneficial to someone else. We can make a difference in the lives of others around us by just lending a helping hand.

Where do you want to travel when the pandemic is over?

Santorini, a Greek island. I enjoy being in close proximity to both the sky and the sea. I adore strolling through its winding streets and stopping in at the many stores and eateries. While it is a popular tourist site, the area does not feel crowded, and there are numerous spots where visitors may simply sit and take in the scenery. Everyone is greeted with a pleasant smile by both locals and tourists.

About Marivic Españo

Chairperson & CEO of P&A Grant Thornton. A true believer in continuing learning and development. Marivic believes that more women should be empowered and mentored to become CEOs. Likewise, she believes that a female leader has the courage to be vulnerable and accept the challenge to grow as an authentic leader.

In P&A, her predecessors and seniors were mostly male. Later on, she realized she didn’t have to fit the “stereotype”—instead, she focused on finding and pursuing things that added value to the company, and in the process, she became her own CEO.

Wilson P. Tan: Assurance, Chairman and Managing Partner of SGV (EY Philippines)

“The Lord God motivates me to always do my best in everything.”

Wilson P. Tan

Why did you choose a career in accountancy (or finance)?

In the 1980s, things were tough. The economy was failing, and the government was on the verge of collapse. The situation was made worse by the political uncertainty created by the assassination of Ninoy Aquino and the disputed 1986 snap election results.

Accountancy seemed to me to be the least expensive course to study at the time, and I anticipated that one day I would be able to become a chief accountant and make a fair salary, allowing my family to be financially secure. My father (a normal salesperson) grew ill and was unable to work, so I almost didn’t finish college. In addition, during my final semester, the university I was attending nearly shuttered but was able to reopen after roughly two weeks.

Fortunately, I was able to maintain outstanding grades and receive a university scholarship that allowed me to attend college for free. My family was struggling financially, and [I was pressured] to drop out of my CPA review classes and focus solely on finding work to make necessities meet.

But with God’s help and with a lot of hard work, I not only finished my studies with honors, but I also placed 12th on the CPA license exam in October 1987. I [then] accepted a job offer as a junior auditor at SGV & Co. two weeks following the exam.

What are the attributes, qualities, or characteristics that helped you in your career?

My faith in God and His Word, I believe, has led me to where I am now. I am literally a nobody. “Lord, I don’t know anyone in this organization,” I reminded myself and prayed when I first walked into SGV. “I came from a very humble background. But because You are my true Boss, please work in the hearts of my human bosses to place me in the right location at the right time so that I might excel for Your credit and glory.”

My faith has always been at the center of my SGV experience. Since college and till today, a verse in the Holy Bible has been my guiding verse in the pursuit of excellence. “Commit thy deeds unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established,” says Proverbs 16:3.

This encourages me to constantly give my all in all I do, and to devote and dedicate the labor of my hands to Him, fully trusting that everything will work out according to His perfect plan. Furthermore, my faith aligns with SGV’s fundamental values of integrity, excellence, respect, and creating connections based on doing the right thing.

Describe the best day of your life.

The finest days of my life are when I am able to look after our personnel and assist our clients with their business needs, create relationships on a professional and personal level, and returning home to my comfortable house and spending time with my family at the end of the day.

I know my Lord is pleased whenever I am able to do this. In this way, each day that allows me to accomplish my personal and professional Purpose is a “great” day for me.

Who or what inspires you the most, apart from your family?

I don’t think I need to emphasize that my Lord God motivates me to always offer my best effort. In a human sense, I am inspired to work in SGV with such devoted and talented people; people who are united by a similar purpose to develop leaders and support businesses for a better Philippines. We have proven, accepted, and put to good use our Purpose in creating our strategies and action steps since the beginning of this pandemic and throughout these disruptive conditions. I’m also encouraged to work with my fellow partners in continuing the heritage that our founder, Mr. Washington SyCip, and our predecessors have fostered and passed down to the current generation of SGV stewards.

Where do you want to travel when the pandemic is over?

When the pandemic has ended and it is safe to travel again, I’d like to take my family on another tour of Europe—revisiting locations we’ve already seen, as well as seeing many new and fascinating sites. I believe that traveling with my loved ones, being ‘unplugged’ and away from the stresses of work, and creating nice memories with them will be one of the finest ways to commemorate the end of the pandemic.

I pray to God that that day will come soon!

About Wilson P. Tan

Assurance, Chairman and Managing Partner of SGV (EY Philippines). “Making a difference, one ripple at a time.” Wilson believes that the next ten years will provide limitless opportunities to not just develop young leaders and businesses, but also to enhance people’s lives. Thus, for a better Philippines, and a better working world, he is committed to developing impact entrepreneurs and cultivating future leaders.

Sharon Dayoan: Chairman and CEO of KPMG R.G. Manabat & Co

I am glad for my job because it allows me to live a purposeful life.”

Sharon Dayoan

Why did you choose a career in accountancy (or finance)?

My work decision had nothing to do with drama or inspiration. I’ve chosen accountancy as a college major since I took a bookkeeping subject in high school and excelled in it. I’d always been strong with numbers, and that bookkeeping class showed me how much fun it could be to put arithmetic into practice.

It may sound nerdy, but I appreciated how accountancy is mentally demanding and amplifies the sensation of accomplishment that comes from balancing a sheet!

What are the attributes, qualities, or characteristics that helped you in your career?

The first is that I genuinely enjoy what I do. Knowing that my job is valuable to both my clients and the general public makes me feel fulfilled. This is why I make it a point to perform my absolute best at all times. It doesn’t matter how big or small the task is, when I commit to something, I make sure to give it my all. The mentality of “pwede na” will not suffice.

The second is a desire to succeed. This entails consistently exceeding expectations and raising the bar after each successful milestone. It [also] entails setting lofty goals and pursuing them with passion and energy.

Finally, I take satisfaction in being a compassionate leader. It’s critical to be open and aware of the various circumstances and backgrounds of the people with whom you deal with. For instance, in my company (KPG), we value diversity and the ability to bring your complete self to work!

What are the three (3) things you are grateful for?

My family is the first thing for which I am thankful for. I am grateful to my hubby for always being understanding and supportive of me. Given the responsibilities and hardships of my job, this is critical.

I’m also quite pleased with my two sons, who are maturing into responsible and kind adults. I’m also grateful for my friends, who have been fantastic support systems, particularly during this pandemic. Finally, I am glad for my job because it allows me to live a purposeful life. I am able to shape the accountancy profession, as well as affect the professionals with whom I work and engage by leading one of the big four audit firms.

Who or what inspires you the most, apart from your family?

The newer generation of professionals inspires me. It never ceases to amaze me that I have worked with such talented young professionals that are enthusiastic about our field. It’s [also] incredibly rewarding to watch them develop into leaders and know that you played a role in their professional development.

This generation’s social consciousness and determination to change the world for the better are also commendable. This gives me comfort in knowing that our profession’s future is bright!

Where do you want to travel when the pandemic is over?

When the pandemic is over, I plan to travel around the Philippines. Our beaches, the laid-back nature of our provinces, and the pure air are all things I miss. When it is safe to do so, I encourage everyone to arrange their vacations in the Philippines first to aid the local economy and tourism.

About Sharon Dayoan

Chairman and CEO of KPMG R.G. Manabat & Co.“Leadership and innovation happen as we empower our fellow professionals.” Sharon‘s goal is to expose her people to new ideas and best practices and give them the tools they need to make positive changes, in order to ensure their professional development is adequately supported.


Key Takeaways from these Filipino Leaders

Making a Difference

Marivic moves us to make a difference in the lives of others by lending them a helping hand. In addition to an utmost faith in God, we should also believe in the skills and abilities He has given us because, in one way or another, it can always be beneficial to another person.

When we think about it, everyone has been helped by someone else at some point in their lives. We don’t always know how we can help until we ask… so the next time you see someone struggling, don’t keep going—stop and lend them your support!

Life should be lived to its fullest and there are so many opportunities in this world waiting for you to take advantage of them! Get inspired and do the walking!

From Nothingness to Greatness

Wilson reminds us that we are not only responsible for our current outstanding position; it is also the Lord’s doing. Without His help, we are nothing; but in Him, we can do every good thing!

God should be the driving force behind every single aspect of our lives. It doesn’t hurt if you try your absolute hardest and give 110% of yourself into anything because nothing will go to waste—it’s either you will succeed or learn a new life lesson!

You may not see an immediate reward, but believing in something so deeply deserves respect and admiration from those around you!

A Sense of Fulfillment

Sharon illustrates that we feel fulfilled when we are in a position to bring out the best in ourselves. Fulfillment comes from many different sources—it is a sense of purpose that stems from working towards something higher than oneself; cooperating with others who share common goals or values; an opportunity for creative expression through one’s labor; or even the satisfaction derived when engaging in meaningful activity that has intrinsic value, to name just a few.

Thus, our job should be a labor of love. Oh, what a sense of happiness and great satisfaction it is to know that what was once just an idea in someone’s mind has now been given life by our efforts. It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to also fulfill other people’s lives through our work.


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