Columbia Business School was saddened to learn of the passing of Washington SyCip ’43, a member of the School’s Board of Overseers for over two decades and one of its most prominent alumni in Asia. SyCip passed away October 7 at the age of 96.
SyCip earned a BSc and an MSc in commerce with highest honors from the University of Santo Tomas in the Philippines, and after passing the CPA exam at age 18, came to Columbia to pursue postgraduate work. He passed the oral examination for his PhD before his dissertation was interrupted by World War II. He served with the Philippine Regiment of the US Army and Army Air Force in the China-Burma-India theater, and afterward returned to the Philippines, founding an accounting practice that grew into SGV & Co., one of the largest professional services firms in the Philippines and East Asia.
SyCip was a signatory of the document that established the International Federation of Accountants, and served as that organization’s president from 1982 to 1985. In 1968, he co-founded the Asian Institute of Management in the Philippines and served as chairman of its board of trustees and board of governors, and was the first chairman of the Euro-Asia Center at INSEAD. He was vice chairman of the Conference Board and a member of the international advisory boards of AIG and the Council on Foreign Relations. He served on the boards of major Philippine and Asian companies and on the international advisory boards of companies such as AIG, AT&T, Chase Bank, Caterpillar, Owens-Illinois, and United Technologies.
SyCip was a world-renowned philanthropist, mentor, and advocate of closer cooperation among the Philippines, the United States, Europe, and Asia. He was outspoken in support of public education, microfinance and entrepreneurship, and public health, and he was relentless in his pursuit to alleviate poverty. He received the 1992 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Peace and International Understanding and was named to the Philippine Legion of Honor in 1991. His numerous other international awards included high honors from Japan, Germany, Sweden, and Austria.
SyCip remained deeply involved in the life of Columbia Business School through his service on the Board of Overseers, remarkable philanthropy, and sponsorship of talented students. The School recognized him with a special Lifetime Achievement Award at the Annual Dinner in 2010—to date, he is one of only four individuals to have been so honored in the School’s history.