The Renaissance Man: Yosi Tanco

The modern man, shaped with great influence of technology and social media, is often portrayed as a victim of choice paralysis from the onslaught of information and the availability of multitudes of options.

On the other hand, there is the Renaissance man who revels in the diversity of options and the versatility such provides. For the Renaissance man, everything is possible, and anything can be done. And self-fulfillment comes from the freedom to pursue multiple dreams and to fulfill numerous passions.

Yosi with son Jaeger and grandson Lucas. Yosi is a doting grandfather to his two grandkids, Chiara Rose (not in photo) and Lucas.

Eusebio “Yosi” Tanco is deemed by many as a Renaissance man. Being at the helm of over forty companies in various industries including education, utilities, gaming, shipping, property, financial services, among others, what else can he not do? His successes only prove how the “jack of all trades, master of none” is a specious argument at best.

Embracing everyone and every possibility

Yosi was able to diversify his business portfolio over the years, not by keeping himself locked inside his room coming up with strategies and plans. He was out with friends. He was traveling around. He was learning with other people. The diversity of Yosi’s ventures only reflects his open and flexible disposition when it comes to life and his businesses.

“For dad, it’s all about having a meaningful and adventurous life,” shares Yosi’s daughter Vanessa Tanco-Reyes.

The Tanco family: (From L-R) Mrs. Rosie Tanco, (Yosi’s wife); Rafael Reyes (Vanessa’s husband); Vanessa Tanco-Reyes and their daughter Chiara Rose; Dr. Vanessa Co-Tanco (Jaeger’s wife) and their son Lucas August; Jaeger Tanco and Yosi’s niece Carla Go.

Just as how Yosi was raised by his father to become the successful person that he is right now, Vanessa shares that their father allows her and her brother Jaeger to carve their own paths.

“What I love most about dad is that he trusts us to take on big responsibilities, such as taking over a venture even if I felt then I wasn’t really ready yet. He asked me to handle iACADEMY and his trust gave me the courage to be creative and innovative in handling the school. I’ve made several mistakes. I could have grown a lot faster in handling the business if only dad just told me exactly what to do. But by allowing me to just do my thing, I was able to explore and be more experimental. I am happy that dad gave me the freedom to accomplish something on my own,” added Vanessa.

Yosi is as comfortable on stage as he is in the boardroom. Music is one of his many talents and passions.

Vanessa is iACADEMY’s president and CEO. Under her leadership and Yosi’s guidance, iACADEMY is now an award-winning institution offering specialized undergraduate and Senior High School programs in Computing, Business and Design. Since then, Yosi has delegated more responsibilities to Vanessa as she serves as chairman of the executive committees of STI ESG, iACADEMY and STI West Negros University.

Yosi’s son, Jaeger Tanco, who also holds key leadership positions in several of their companies, appreciates how his father enjoys collaborating with other people because he sees it as a chance to learn new expertise for new ventures he has in mind.

“Dad doesn’t think of himself as the smartest or the expert in the room. I think this is one of the traits I admire about him the most. It’s also one of the things I try to do myself as I run some of our businesses,” says the president of Tanco companies Comm&Sense, PhilLife Financial, PhilCare, Maestro Holdings, Stitch, and Rosehills Memorial Management Philippines Inc. Jaeger is also the Vice President for investor relations of STI Holdings and sits at the executive committees of STI ESG, iACADEMY and STI West Negros University.

Yosi’s ability to embrace everyone and every possibility to explore new things allowed him to innovate and create ventures that cater to the present and emerging needs of the markets his companies serve.

Yosi is at the helm of over 40 companies from diverse industries. Yosi, who inherited his business acumen from his father Agustin Tanco, is now passing it on to his children Vanessa and Jaeger, who hold key leadership positions in their companies.

“It’s uncommon for someone at my dad’s age to know anything about digital or about the needs of the younger market, like the Gen Zs. With my dad, you’ll be surprised at how he remains up to date with trends and innovations. Some would be surprised that he has ventures on tech and data. During the pandemic, we started with Stitch Tech Solutions, an IT firm that empowers MSMEs through Data Science and Cloud Computing,” adds Jaeger.

But the continued success of the Tanco group of companies does not rest solely on Yosi’s shoulders. It’s the product of the dynamic synergy between him and Jaeger and Vanessa.

Yosi also continues to be a guiding force in the group’s PR agency Comm&Sense, which enabled the 17-year-old firm to transition from a traditional publicity company to a full-blown content and digital PR company. The direction set by Yosi and Jaeger to put actionable data and insights at the core of all its communication programs yielded successful and award-winning campaigns for its clients, elevating Comm&Sense as one of the top PR agencies in the Philippines today.

Part of Yosi’s vision is to provide STI students with conducive learning environments. Here is Yosi flanked by teachers and school personnel of STI College Lipa during the groundbreaking ceremony of the P515 Million Academic Center.

PhilCare, a pioneer and leader in the HMO industry, under Yosi’s Maestro Group, has recently won the Philippine Quill Awards for its PhilCare Community Quarantine Wellness Index, a data-driven communication campaign during the coronavirus pandemic in partnership with Comm&Sense.

Through the study, PhilCare reveals the sentiments and attitudes of Filipinos about the lockdowns and the pandemic as a whole. PhilCare’s innovative approach to communicating with its audience takes from Yosi’s principle of getting in touch with one’s self by being in touch with others.

PhilCare lives up to the innovative spirit of Yosi as it continues to churn out products and services to serve the evolving needs of their clients and partners. Jaeger, who also serves as the HMO giant’s president, recently inked agreements with two other leaders in the healthcare industry- Johnson & Johnson Philippines and Metro Pacific Investments Corporation’s mWell PH.

PhilCare and Johnson & Johnson Philippines, Inc. are collaborating to make psychological first aid (PFA) accessible to more Filipinos. While mWell PH, the fastest growing fully integrated health and wellness mobile app in the country, partnered with PhilCare to allow their users to consult doctors 24/7 or book a medical appointment at a convenient time using the app.

This passion for innovation has made the Tanco companies resilient through the decades, even thriving amid one of the greatest global crises in the last 50 years, the COVID-19 pandemic.

Being comfortable with the unfamiliar

Being hands on with all his ventures, no day is the same for Yosi. In one executive meeting, he is discussing the need to update school curriculums. In another, he is venturing into digitizing the sales of memorial plans.

Yosi with his longtime friend and partner Atty. Nick Jacob

Atty. Nick Jacob, Yosi’s friend for over forty years and one of his most trusted business partners, narrates how Yosi is comfortable in venturing into new lines of businesses just because he believes that more Filipinos would benefit from having access to a new product or service.

“Yosi has an eternal curiosity for things new, untried and untested. He keeps his ears to the ground and is abreast with what is happening in the business world.  The Tancos used to be involved in manufacturing. But knowing that he and more Filipinos would benefit if we help build the supporting infrastructure to help other local businesses grow, he decided to divest in the textile manufacturing business even though it’s already established. Yosi decided to shift to the service industry because he saw its growth potential. It’s crucial for Yosi that his business would create a more positive impact on the local economy. He wants to help his fellow Filipinos through his work.”

With the diversity of Yosi’s businesses, he has become a trusty companion for every Filipino from cradle to grave.

Yosi leads STI, iACADEMY, and STI Western Negros University. Through these academic institutions, Yosi fulfills his main goal of providing quality education for younger Filipinos. When graduates from these institutions finish their studies, they get to be matched with a suitable job easily.

Yosi orchestrated the public listing of STI Education Systems Holdings, a leading education and investment corporation in the Philippines. It has investments in three large education institutions- iACADEMY, STI West Negros University and STI Education Services Group; making it one of the largest networks of schools in the country today.

“Apart from being sensitive, Yosi’s strength is being nimble in making the necessary tweaks to address the needs of the market. Yosi’s businesses complement each other. He has schools, he has a human resource provider through Grow Inc., and he has a stake in businesses in a number of industries. He could match the demand for professionals and workers with graduates from his schools,” explains Atty. Jacob. Yosi, an Economics graduate of the Ateneo de Manila University and a holder of a Master’s degree from the London School of Economics, still enjoys working on businesses involving financial management, which is right up his alley.

Yosi’s companies PhilLife Financial, PhilsFirst, and PhilPlans provide financial products and services that allow Filipino professionals and families who rely on the remittance of overseas Filipinos to grow and protect their hard-earned money through reliable financial products. Through these companies, even those without sophisticated financial know-how can avail of financial instruments that help them achieve their financial goals such as securing their financial future.

Even the end of life did not escape Yosi’s interest for even in the most difficult moment such as the death of a loved one, he has a company that can help ease the burden of those left behind. The Heritage Memorial Park and the Nacional Chapels and Crematory are both known institutions in the memorial service industry.

“Honoring the dead in the Philippines has remained very traditional for years. But Yosi still found a way to infuse his ideas to make such practice much more suitable for modern tastes. Apart from providing state-of-the-art building and facilities, both Nacional and Heritage have the technology to accommodate live streaming of wakes and memorial services. During the pandemic, the service has become more of a norm than a nice-to-have. From these innovations, Yosi was able to set a new standard for the industry,” adds Atty. Jacob.

Recognizing timeless wisdom

It would be unfair for Yosi to simplify his story as one about a person who was given the privilege to pursue everything and anything he wants. If there is anything one could highlight from Yosi’s experiences, it would be that every success comes from patient cultivation.

Yosi’s success was something he didn’t cultivate alone. This cultivation can trace its origin from Yosi’s father, Agustin “Kongkong” Tanco, and can find its continuation through the people he has worked with throughout the years.

“My grandpa is fondly remembered by many for his kindness and humility.  He was really warm to everyone. We lost our grandpa when I was about nine years old. I didn’t really remember how he was as a businessman, but what stuck with me was that grandpa was kind. When people learn that I’m a Tanco, even strangers would share how they remember grandpa’s big smile. He touched so many people’s lives. He was always welcoming and sincere. I think dad also got the very same vibe from my grandpa,” recalls Vanessa.

The same time he cultivated the textile manufacturing business that he eventually passed on to Yosi, Kongkong cultivated the young Yosi to have not only the necessary patience and perseverance to be a successful businessman someday, but also to have the heart and mind to maintain the legacy of kindness the Tancos have been known for.

“I believe dad’s image as the jeans-and-sneaker type of executive is consistent with how he treats people around him. He’s a no-frills kind of guy. Anyone can just approach him. That’s what he got from my grandpa. He handles relationships really well. For him, business is more than doing what he was good at. It served as a way for him to connect with others. It’s from him that I really saw how the principle ‘take care of people and they will take care of you’ works,” shares Jaeger.

Aside from cultivating one’s own character, one of the most salient lessons Vanessa and Jaeger learned from their father was to never pass up any opportunity to make a decision. In one of their conversations, Yosi said: “An imperfect decision is much better than to have no decision at all because without making a decision, you leave everything and everyone hanging”.

For the modern man to become a Renaissance man, the call is to be the person the situation needs you to be. That is what Yosi always has been.