I believe that one of the ways that Tans brought out the best in their people is that they gave them challenging tasks, and recognized a good job when they saw it.
I experienced this first hand when I was given an assignment by then head of International Operations S' William Tan Untiong (WTU, as he was more popularly known.)
There was to be an expo of fastfoods and restaurants in Taiwan and he wanted Jollibee to be represented there. Jollibee had just opened its first store there in 1987 and he thought that by making the brand visible, we would have some prospective franchisees that would help grow the chain there.
It was Jimmy Enriquez,the point person for our Taiwan operations, who told me of the assignment. What WTU wanted me to do was to come up with a brochure about Jollibee that they would distribute during the expo. What made this extra challenging though was that I had less than a month to finish the brochure.
I had some prior experience doing this kind of work so that was not a problem. The short deadline however, presented complications and limitations.
For one, it would be impossible to have any color printing done since no printer then would accept a job order for color separations less than three weeks. The other concern was that it was only days before Holy Week when I got the assignment. That meant that the printing presses would be closed for a week,leaving me a window of only two weeks tops, to get the brochure out.
Fortunately, I had worked with a printing press that was willing to take on the job, but they told me that the brochure had to be in black and white. I informed WTU about it and since it was a no choice situation, he gave the go ahead.
I sat down with the layout editor of the press and drew up a schedule of when I should submit the dummy layouts, when I should get the blueprint and when they would get the final document out.
I couldn't take any new pictures so the week before Holy Week I already started looking for photos from existing file photos. As I found the pictures, I composed in my mind what the brochure would look like.
During the Holy Week I worked on the contents of the material, writing the copy and creating a layout. There were details and information that were missing so Jimmy and his then girlfriend, Meann San Juan, paid me a visit at home just to give me the data I needed.
The Holy Week break gave me enough time to complete the layouts such that by the Monday of the following week I was at the printer's submitting my dummy layout and all the needed photos.
I kept WTU posted on the status of the project. The only possible hitch we anticipated was that the brochures would be finished a day before he had to fly back to Taiwan to attend the expo.
Thankfully, the printer completed the job as promised. However, that meant I had to wait till about 6 PM at Culmat building for the delivery.
I received the glossy black and white brochures and then drove over to WTU's residence somewhere in Cubao to deliver the copies. I kept one for myself as a souvenir.
WTU greatly appreciated the effort and really wished we had had more time to come up with a color printed material. But he said, that it had come out better than he expected considering the short lead time.
He wrote a letter of appreciation to my boss commending me for what I had done, which really made me feel good!