“It’s not always about money, but for the love of country.”
We are entering a digital world, and 5G is in play right now,” Sherwin Hing begins, barely containing his enthusiasm.
He is barely skimming over the enormity of that statement, as he is putting in his share of building blocks and scaffoldings to get Filipinos game-ready. He is executive chairman of Alliance Towers, Inc., a major player in one of the most bustling industries in the world today—Passive Telecommunications Tower Infrastructure.
Hing can afford to sit back for a bit and happily report that his company is delivering work as scheduled, and now that business has slowly begin to normalize, work can only get better for them. Only a few industries can report growth over the lockdown, like Alliance Towers (ALT Global Solutions then) can because they didn’t take a break when the world went into lockdown.
“With the entry of (telco newcomer) Dito Telecommunity, I saw more competition entering the local telco business, but wondered if that would be the solution to our telecommunications requirements in the country,” he says.
In 2019, he decided to venture into an independent tower company, answering the call of the Department of Information and Communications (DITC) for the private sector to go into the business.
“After securing our license in 2019, we were able to get Dito to sign up, then Smart followed, then Globe soon after,” he recounts.
Alliance built over 40 towers at the height of the pandemic, and plans to build 500 towers a year moving forward. This would greatly help improve digital connectivity, considering that the Philippines needs to build 50,000 towers to meet its current shortfall.
“The standard for Southeast Asia is 1,000 users for every tower,” Hing says. “The Philippines has overloaded towers with 7,100 users to a tower, according to DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr. Infrastructure has always been vital for the growth of our country.”
Where it used to be roads and bridges, times call for telco power, he continues. “We are way behind other countries.”
He reports that the company has completed 70 towers as of today and they are working toward rolling out 200. This will complete the three to four towers year-on-year in the next five to 10 years.
Delivering that in a relatively new field is a tall task for anyone, and one might think more so for this Cebu native who is third generation of a family in the shipping business.
While his work origins were in shipping, he decided to diversify in 2017 and formed AVIVA Prime Corporation-investment holding company with interests not just in shipping, but in power and now, in tower infrastructure. If this sounds like an all work and no play kind of life, it is not. Hing is a leader people in the corporate world dream about and he knows how to decompress.
“I’m a firm believer in the art of delegation,” he says. “What I’m doing now is possible because of the team I have assembled.”
Although he is armed with a business management degree with Masters in Entrepreneurship from the Asian Institute of Management, he has always been reluctant to be in the limelight. “I always tell my kids I’m not a genius, I don’t know everything,” he says. “I’d rather hire someone I can learn from to add value to my organization instead of attempting to do it all myself. I’m always open for suggestions… a non-stop learner.”
He doesn’t always end the workday at five, but he tries to maintain life balance. After a day of work, he meets up with friends and they smoke cigars.
These get-togethers brought about what he calls a hobby he formed with 10 of those friends—they are set to open the first La Casa del Habano in Makati. Yes, that La Casa del Habano, only the biggest branded cigar lounge in the world.
He also makes sure to make time for his parents. “We do have happy moments together with my wife and kids, usually while sharing a good meal,” he says.
Weekends are for family and golf buddies. Hingis an avid golfer and is guilty of doing work on the golf course. “Working out is a non-negotiable, because health is the ultimate wealth. Before the pandemic, I would hit the gym regularly. Now I workout at home. And I play golf… but I walk instead of taking golf cart.”
Hing could golf all day if he could. “In 2009, I went to Vegas to enroll in (Tiger Wood coach) Butch Harmon’s School of Golf, probably four times that year,” the 48-year-old shares. “I’m a firm believer getting the best I can, so since at that time the game seemed to hate me, I decided to learn so the game would have some love for me.”
He also shares that none of his kids (all grown) work in his companies. “I want to instill that they aren’t entitled to hold a certain position until they are qualified,” Hing says. “As I get older, I want to pass on the legacy. Someday my kids will continue what I started.”
For now, it’s onward and of course, upward, and finding ways to connect point A to point B, which is not that far from the the goal of shipping.
Hing never gets tired of learning for personal development. “My work has been a continuous learning process. It’s no longer work,” he says. “Seeing my people grow is an achievement for me. Hiring the best people is not cheap, but I have had no regrets.”
Without them, Hing says, it will be difficult to achieve the goals I set.” He personally can’t wait to travel again. “I can’t wait till that happens again. I’ve been giving a lot of my time to Alliance,” he muses. “Anything for economic growth.”
The CEO says that they acknowledge their role in the success of the country’s digital transformation and advancement.
“We ensure that our experts are armed with the right extensive information and knowledge to develop our towers, and we have also developed standard parameters to ensure that our sites, services and operations are best-in-class,” Hing says.
For him, “it’s not always about money, but for the love of country. The next five years are the golden years in the telco era. Happy to be part of it.”
Text by MITZI DUQUE RUIZ
This story originally came out in the April 2022 issue of Lifestyle Asia.