Mica F. Tan was born 29 years ago. But she is now more than 500 years old. This is if one adds up the ages of three people she considers her top mentors and those of others who have influenced her in her business of helping businesses. But if one were to consider the entrepreneurs she has influenced and who moved from inspirations she has shared, Mica would now be thousands of years in age.
At 25, Mica built MFT Group of Companies, a private equity firm that started with a firm supplying high-value medical equipment to local medical centers. Its roster of companies now includes food firms operating in key Asian cities and Spain, fintech and shared space and real property, among others.
Now a sought-after mentor for entrepreneurs, Mica lists her father, a cancer specialist; her mom, an entrepreneur jeweller; and a family friend who was her late father’s business partner, as the figures whose advice and influence gave her the early confidence to set sail in business.
Mica took the limelight a few years back in a reality tv show as one of successful entrepreneurs who’d boost promising business proposals. She brought to the show the valuable habit of learning, a conscious pursuer of learning, at that.
At the helm of MFT Group, Mica surrounds herself with books but she continues to leaf through three particular ones which are prominently placed at her office—“The Obstacle is the Way” by Ryan Holiday, Jose Leviste’s “If the Philippines Had a Lee Kuan Yew,” and “The Outsiders: Eight Unconventional CEOs and Their Radically Rational Blueprint for Success” by William Thorndike.
Curiosity about the world around her is a trait fueled by her father in her growing up years. She recalls that her dad, who introduced brachytherapy to the Philippines as a method of cancer treatment, would bring her to the hospitals and inform her of the benefits of proper equipment.
Mica was set to pursue her finance studies in New York but, wanting to get immediately into the game and learn hands on, she stayed put and got going on her own. In the early years, she attests, she continued with the tutelage of uncles who were in business and with a stockbroker mentor whom she befriended in an “excursion” at the stock exchange as a young student who cut her college class to be there where the action was.
That curiosity is well-channeled with her management team who provides the Group the necessary expertise in diverse fields.
MFT Group currently focuses its resources on three main sectors —health care, F & B, and financial services. There is an articulated preference for partnership with family corporations, taking into account flexibility in welcoming innovations. Geographical diversification picks up as a route with new deals in the offing. “This gives a balance to the company. Some markets may perform better than others,” she adds.
With her team, new perspectives arise which eventually lead to new approaches. “New perspectives can bring exceptional results,” Mica states. Wearing a mentor’s hat, she puts forward the importance of alignment among team members. “Carefully build a select group around you who share the same values—this is your own lifetime counsel,” she states.
These days, a team would have executives from different “generations”. with generations referred here to include those characterized by the kind of technology available to them. “We’re multi-generational,” she states, adding that it is not her style to latch labels but takes the team as one. “A team is a team and we learn from each other.”
She constantly poses questions, she says : “There’s never nothing going on. Every moment is an opportunity to discipline the mind and get better in asking questions.” She prompts young people to reflect and ask themselves : “What questions do you ask daily?”
Behind the podium, or with her image pinned onscreen by audiences in virtual conferences, Mica addresses a host of queries on courage, leadership, start-up financing, strategic thinking, and even on dealing with naysayers.
Her top 3 on going forward on their journey as entrepreneurs include courage in taking the leap and moving outside the herd, humility, a virtue that covers being able to ask for help when needed, and appreciating risks and uncertainties that accompany business ventures.
Importantly, she advises listeners to keep their dreams close at hand. “Speak about it. Don’t let go. Believers will come.”