A F*ckup Night: Sharing Stories of Business Failures

If you’ve been hiding under a rock, F*ckup Night (FUN) is an event by Impact Hub Manila that must be part of your things to do in BGC! FUN is a global movement that started in Mexico in 2012 that encourages entrepreneurs to share their failure stories in starting a business. We always hear about success stories but never about failures. Impact Hub believes that Failure is something we should not be afraid of hearing or experiencing, as it is something that makes us stronger and wiser.
Below is an excerpt from one of the speakers’ speeches in the first FUN event of 2017 held in the coworking space in BGC of Impact Hub Manila in partnership with KMC Solutions.

Robert “Bobbit” Suntay recalls one of his biggest career moves

For as long as I can remember, I always wanted to be a teacher. Right before graduation, I thought seriously about whether this would be a practical choice for me, seeing that the salary was meager, the upward mobility was limited, and the prestige factor wasn’t up there – especially when I heard my classmates talking about working for a few years in the business sector here, then leaving to take their MBAs, and ending up with high pay and high status consulting or investment banking jobs abroad.

But I opted to teach anyway for one year at Xavier School back in 1983. Then, after that very brief foray into education – and as much as I truly loved it – I gave in to the pressure of what most of my peers were doing. Consequently, I did go to Grad school abroad and I spent 5 years in the Human Resources world. I even worked at a top global management firm: Andersen Consulting. By then, I was living “The Dream.” I had a townhouse in a trendy area in Washington, D.C. I had my dream car, and I had the salary and business cards to match! There was, however, a slight problem: I didn’t enjoy my work. Truth be told: I hated it! Management consulting didn’t give me the same fulfilment as teaching. Then, making things much worse: my mom was diagnosed with cancer.

I immediately flew to Manila and long story short, my dad – and especially my mom – made me promise to go back to the US as soon as possible. They said that returning home would not change anything. Plus, they believed the opportunities given by my job were too vital to sacrifice. Back in the States, I was a late addition to a consulting team in “the boonies” of Virginia. So now, in addition to disliking my work, I had loneliness and my deep sadness over leaving my mom to deal with. This went on for several painful months… One day, still working at about 3am, I got a call from Xavier School. To my utter shock, I was told they needed a principal and… they wanted me?!?

When my disbelief had passed, I asked Fr. Barbero why Xavier School would want me. I was not an alumnus. I was not Chinese. And there was that little tiny detail of having all of one year’s teaching experience and absolutely zero of school leadership. Also, I wasn’t even 30 years old yet. He just laughed, saying the school needed a “different kind of principal.” I wondered: were they just really that desperate?

Long story short, I quit my job at Andersen Consulting. I surrendered my work visa, sold my car, gave up my condo, and returned home… though not in time to say goodbye to my mom who had suddenly passed away.

I was appointed Xavier’s High School principal in May of 1991 at age 29. Things worked out very well and I served at Xavier School for 7 years. Thus, leaving Andresen Consulting turned out to be one of my best career moves ever! Notwithstanding those who thought back then, I had made a bad decision in giving up such a great job.

The writer, Frederick Beuchner, once said: “You will find your calling in the place where your heart’s deep gladness meets the world’s deep needs.” So tonight, if you’ve learnt anything from this entire talk, know that you’ve got one precious, fragile, short, and uncertain life! So, wake up already! Find what gets you up in the morning and what drives you on through the night. Stop being who you think you should be so you can finally become who you really are! Respect your fears, but harness them. It may take you some time, but good things come to those who persevere. Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger… (but it can still kill you later. J) You will screw up! But – you will make an impact.

About Robert “Bobbit” Suntay

A F*ckup Night: Sharing Stories of Business Failures

Bobbit is a Co-founder and Executive Director of the Cancer Resource and Wellness (Carewell) Community Foundation, Inc.  He also serves as President of the SEA-VIP Institute, a foundation that uses Science, Education, and Advocacy programs to protect the marine biodiversity resources in the Verde Island Passage. He has held teaching and leadership positions at Xavier School, Ateneo de Manila University, and the Harvard University Graduate School of Education.  He is also a board member of WWF (Philippines), Studio H20, the Network of Underwater Digital Imagers (NUDI), Beacon School, and Beacon Academy. Bobbit believes he was a fish in his previous life – which is why he spends most of his available time underwater. Moreover, he is also an international award-winning underwater videographer.

About Carewell Community Foundation

A F*ckup Night: Sharing Stories of Business Failures

Incorporated in 2005, Carewell was established in order to help persons with cancer and their loved ones. Now on its 11th year, Carewell serves over 600 members at its center in Makati City and in various Metro Manila hospitals and treatment centers.  All its resources, services, and programs are offered free of charge to persons affected by cancer and their loved ones.

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