Perhaps one of the most notable persons in the Engineering industry is Engr. Jose A. Sy, President & CEO of Sysquared + Associates, Inc. which is one of the largest structural engineering firms in the Philippines. He is known for his wide structural experience honed from various projects such as high-rise structures, commercial buildings, condominiums, hotels, banks and industrial plant facilities and has since then been able to contribute a remarkable array of excellent structural designs throughout the country. Apart from being the President of a large engineering firm, he also engages himself in the development of structural innovations thus earning him fellowships from some of the most esteemed Engineering groups and associations such as the Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers, Association of Structural Engineers of the Philippines, American Concrete Institute, American Society of Civil Engineers and the Council for Tall Building & Urban Habitat.
But what sets this highly accomplished man apart from others in his field of work? He is a Thomasian. Engr. Sy is a Cum Laude Civil Engineering graduate from the University of Santo Tomas in 1979, placing 11th in the Government Licensure Exam taken on the same year and was even a part of the faculty of the said program from 1979 to 1984. Albeit he didn’t pursue his Master in Business Administration (De La Salle University, 1983) and Master of Science in Civil Engineering (University of the Philippines, 1985) with his alma mater, our alumnus has kept upholding the important Thomasian values he acquired during his bachelor and teaching days in his profession even up to this day. In an email interview, he related:
“As a Thomasian, we were taught that it is important to uphold a tradition of excellence while providing influence to the global community. It is also important to practice compassion in any chosen field of expertise. I’ve kept this to heart and remain conscious of my actions and decisions, always ensuring that whatever it is I do, I do it excellently or not at all. I also make sure that I never lose track of the reason for me doing what I do every single day. I have a responsibility to the community, who has given so much to me, to do my work well. I’d like to think that being a Thomasian has molded me into a person who continuously works hard and constantly strives for improvement. I was taught that hard work and dedication leads to positive advancements. I continue to strive to be what I was taught I should be, and I believe it’ll always be an on-going process.”
Indeed, Engr. Sy has lived up to the challenge of upholding the Thomasian values and has been rewarded with quite a number of recognitions for his hard work including the Most Outstanding Filipino-Chinese in the Philippines Award in the 2006 Jose P. Rizal Awardee for Science and Technology, Centennial Awardee for Civil Engineering in 2007 and The Outstanding Thomasian Alumni Award in Engineering Practice in the 2009 TOTAL Awards by the University of Santo Tomas. From a simple project inspector (he was already working even before he graduated from college) to being the president and CEO of his own company, Engr. Sy has truly embodied the hard-work and leadership that he believes are the true symbols of being a Thomasian.
“Leadership was always a key lesson in being a Thomasian. Whether it’s in religion, education, or our chosen field, UST has taught me that it is important to be guided by a mission. This has definitely helped me in my profession. I did not expect our company to grow the way it did but I now find myself leading so many young engineers. It is my responsibility to show them what a good leader is, and to always practice excellence with a heart. These young professionals give so much of themselves to their work and to the advancement of our industry that I owe it to them to be someone worth following, and to share what is due to them. I believe that when the company progresses, it should benefit everybody.”
Truly passionate towards sharing his valuable insights about structural development, Engr. Sy has also delivered quite a number of presentations and published a series of articles/write-ups throughout the years including his three most recent entitled “Determining The Optimum Combination Of Outrigger Wall And Buckling Restrained Braces For A 70-Storey Residential Project Park Central Towers (Emerald) – South Tower” (delivered during the 5th ASEP Convention), “Seismic Performance-Based Evaluation West Superblock Residential Tower, The Suites” (2015) and the “Structural Design Considerations for Ultra Irregular 60-Storey Building Using Performance-Based Design Approach” (2014). He has also attended seminars and conferences including the recent Geotechnical and Structural Engineering Congress in Phoenix, Arizona (February 2016) and the 5ACEE Asia Conference on Earthquake Engineering in Taipei, Taiwan (October 2014).
With humility that truly becomes our esteemed alumnus; he dedicates the following advice to the young engineers striving to succeed in the same career path:
“My advice to all the future engineers out there is to love what you do, and to never lose that passion. It’s important that you work hard, but it won’t mean as much if you don’t put your heart into it. So many people now are looking for a shortcut, but in our industry, experience pays. Experience not only gives you more knowledge and specialty, it also gives you credibility. It is also important to stay humble. Yes, confidence is important, but it’s very different from arrogance. My advice is simple, work hard, never lose heart and stay humble. In being humble, you become open to new approaches, techniques, system and ideas that will enhance your knowhow.”