28 Jul Fortune Favours The Bold: MFT Group CEO Mica Tan Says Failure is the Best Teacher
By: Lauren Golangco | July 28, 2022
Mica Tan, the 30-year-old financier at the helm of private equity firm MFT Group, proves that being a young entrepreneur is not a weakness, but an advantage
“I’ve always believed failure to be the best teacher,” remarks 2019 Gen.T honouree Mica Francesca Tan, co-founder and CEO of private equity firm MFT Group. At just 19 years old, the bold entrepreneur decided to forego university and dive into starting her own business. Now on its seventh year of operations, the eponymous investment company boasts a rich portfolio worth PHP 3 billion spanning various industries, primarily family legacy establishments, in global markets—10 countries, including 20 different business districts to be exact. But Tan will be the first to admit that she is not without her fair share of mistakes.
Her passion for finance—and specifically, how finance empowers others—was inspired by her father, Dr Eduardo Tan. As a respected oncologist, Dr Tan dedicated his career to making world-class cancer treatment more accessible for Filipinos, seeking entrepreneurial partners to help realise his dream. “Because of that, I grew up with the courage not to be afraid of asking for help,” says the wide-eyed woman.
Mica Tan at SaladStop! Spain
Though she was often underestimated along the way, getting an early start certainly had its advantages. Making such a daring leap at a young age instilled a resoluteness that only strengthened over time while allowing Tan to embrace the growing pains much sooner. “The one thing that finance continues to teach me is how to overcome disadvantages and turn crisis into opportunity,” she muses. “I saw how my father tirelessly talked about his vision with successful businessmen capable of undertaking remarkable ventures. I may not have the long list of qualifications for it, but I continue to learn from many mistakes, which leads to building teams that can turn good ideas into great companies.”
This commitment to staying undaunted amid defeat is an attitude that the CEO has integrated into the company’s philosophy and her own management style. Tan shares: “The exciting part is building teams where you can talk about failure openly and objectively. Analyse what went wrong and use this to change the course. . . intellectual humility is at the core of this transformation.”
Mica Tan at a Singapore outlet of La Lola Churreria
Equipped with such fortitude, it comes as no surprise that Tan considers one of her largest battles to be among her greatest milestones: enduring the COVID-19 pandemic. With investments in such diverse industries, few sectors remained strong, while others bore the recession’s unforgiving brunt. “Since 2020, every day was a battle to be won,” Tan admits.
Yet, the enterpriser charged forward. During the pandemic, MFT Group not only expanded the offerings of its restaurant, Mimi & Bros, but even enabled La Lola Churreria and SaladStop! to open overseas branches in Singapore and Ho Chi Minh City, respectively. Meanwhile, in the recession-resistant but overwhelmed healthcare sector, the firm felt a greater responsibility to deliver. “Mondial Medical Technologies was born out of a vision to provide medical equipment, devices and solutions in the Philippines with the thrust to be the bridge in modernising Philippine healthcare,” Tan beams. “People will always be at the heart of why we continuously serve our hospital clients. Being able to do this more than ever during the pandemic will always be a big milestone for us.”
Mica Tan at the launch of Mondial Medical Technologies
This people-first sentiment has always rung true for the MFT Group. After all, Tan divulges that her endeavours in finance have “always been about working towards being in a position to help, extend resources and create opportunities for others”. In somewhat of a full-circle moment for Dr Tan’s savvy daughter, she proudly announces the firm’s next big project: state-of-the-art care centre facilities, starting with the Mondial Kidney Care Center.
“I embraced the opportunity to become part of business transformation and saw how the world of private equity can match hope with the right resources and expertise to take a business to the next level,” Tan relates, reflecting on her early foray into finance. At only 30 years young, she’s only just begun.