Denice Sy

When the lockdown was announced mid-March, I remember crying as I left the office, knowing that our operations would be suspended indefinitely. As the chief sales and marketing officer for Ever Bilena Cosmetics, Inc (EBCI), I felt so troubled that our employees would not have work. Where would we get the revenue now that everything is completely shut down? I was also disheartened that my daily lifestyle, which was primarily centered on work, was put at an abrupt halt. I confided my worries to my dad Dioceldo Sy who is also my boss—owner, president, and chief executive officer of EBCI. To my surprise, he would always respond in a calm demeanor. Through these unprecedented circumstances, I got to know my dad a little bit more and picked up a few lessons along the way.

  1. Know your purpose for being in business. It’s not always about money.

We had low sales coming in, but my dad said it was his calling to “put our people first.” Ever Bilena started with Dad making ends meet for himself and the family. As the company grew, it had evolved into a source of livelihood for others. Thus, my dad deemed it his obligation to ensure the welfare of our employees. Dad advanced mid-year bonuses in March, and provided financial aid in the form of full salaries in April for all 1,800+ employees when the quarantine was extended. This move hit our cash flow and bottom line, but dad said it was the correct decision to make as the head of the company and as a steward of God’s blessing.

Denice with father

The author with her father Dioceldo Sy

  1. Stick to the basics.

Dad calls it “the greatest world crisis since World War II.” It’s a good reminder to stay grounded and in touch with what’s important. This is applicable both in our business and personal relationships. For a while, Dad was less hands on with Ever Bilena, because he was more focused on growing his other businesses. With the economy at a standstill and all his other ventures on hold, it was time he returned to our core. Sticking to the basics means forgetting about percentage growths and sales targets. Right now, it’s all about survival, and doing everything that can be done to keep the company afloat and give our people jobs.

  1. Be open for change and innovation. Do not fall in love with a plan.

At the start of the year, we planned so many strategies for the company, with timelines in place for new brand launches in the pipeline. One of our new brands, Hello Glow, is an example of this. We introduced it last February with a new business model that resulted in unhappy dealers. After multiple debates with Dad and our sales team, we arrived at a new online reseller structure this month, which led to securing over hundreds of thousands preorders in just a few days, extending substantial earning opportunities for our new network of online-based business partners, and creating jobs for our production team. Change and innovation are not easy. But when done right, they can result in even better outcomes.


  1. Stay grounded.

Dad never forgets his humble beginnings. He started on his own in the late ‘70s and, at the time, big tycoons like Henry Sy and John Gokongwei gave him their time and offered valuable life and business principles that Dad continues to abide by today. These successful businessmen became big because they never let their successes go to their heads and do not look down on anyone. This is why dad makes it a point to stay grounded, spend frugally, and treat all human beings with equal respect.

  1. Work hard, and work harder than everyone else.

At 62 years old, Dad was the first person to officially report back to office when quarantine guidelines relaxed. In the past few weeks, we have been visiting and meeting each of our regional business partners personally. The key to success is to get to know the people we are working with, and to ensure we are all pursuing the correct direction. Everyone wants a piece of the pie, but those who work hardest and smartest will get the bigger slice.


Quoting dad, “Keep working, and before you know it, you will be ahead of everyone else!”

Dad likes supporting those with a heart and passion to excel, “it’s either you work together to succeed or you get left behind.”

  1. Have a positive outlook in life, and believe that God is in control.

Dad has a unique trait of always seeing the brighter things in life. He is the epitome of the adage “when life gives you lemons, make lemon juice.” Though retail foot traffic is down, this coronavirus has enabled the company to look for unconventional channels of revenue, such as our online platform. 


Dad attributes it to following God’s divine intervention. “Without the pandemic, I would not have returned to my core and reacquainted myself to the current systems and processes. I would not have had the time to look into the Hello Glow project, and therefore would not have been able to get to know our online business partners and strengthen our network.”

I feel fortunate to not just be a daughter to my dad, but also a mentee to his guidance and leadership. There are myriad lessons that can be learned from Dad’s life experiences so far. And what he continues to show me is what it means to continue learning and growing, and how to turn a bad situation into something even better than before.


Source: Manila Bulletin (