Francis Roxas Moran Jr. Creating his own destiny

His classmates in La Salle Green Hills would probably not expect Francis Roxas Moran Jr. to be the advertising hotshot that he is today.

Words by Luis Miguel “Mike” Gonzalez
Photos taken by Louie Aguinaldo

In tribute to a fellow Hoodlum, a term of endearment among the LSGH 77 batchmates, we are publishing this story written by a fellow hoodlum Mike Gonzales, on Francis Moran in this website, as it appeared in Vol. 3 No. 8 issue of Animomagazine back in 2005.
Rest now, my friend. Albert de los Santos, Publisher

Francis Roxas Moran Jr., Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of McCann World Group Asia Pacific, is not typical valedictorian-summa cum laude – Ph.D. boasting executive.

I myself can attest to that as he was my classmate in third-year high school in La Salle Green Hills in 1976. I actually more vividly recall Francis having very good basketball skills and if were perhaps a foot-taller, basketball would have played a more important role in his life. He has a real good shot and could dribble, twist and weave through many of playmates. 

Franchot himself admits that he was no genius back in high school. As a matter-of-fact, he confesses that he was in that 20 percent of the class- the bottom 20 percent that is. If that wasn’t enough he forgot to apply for college and wound up spending his first semester of college in a school along E. Rodriguez Avenue (Trinity College) where 80 percent of the students were female. By the second semester, he made his way to De La Salle Taft. In his year-and-a-half stay in DLSU, he managed to become one of the famed Bench Boys and made a lot of money as the designated “bangka” or banker of the on-campus casino operated by the notorious group. When the gang went out during the weekend, Francis was responsible for picking up the tab using the proceeds of their winnings as payment. It was a fun and carefree ride for Franchot until tragedy struck when Francis Moran Sr., then only 49, passes away unexpectedly.

Francis’s sister Margie (yes, the Miss Universe 1973) confirmed that indeed when their father passed away, Francis took on the role of “padre de familia” despite having three older brothers and two elder sisters. According to Margie, it was Francis who acted by far more responsibly than the others and who usually offered better solutions or counsel to the normal problems the family face at that time. Upon the encouragement of their mother, Francis went to the United States where he would continue his college degree at the College of Notre Dame.

Being in a new environment without his usual bunch of Bench Boys, Francis suddenly found himself often going to the school library to do his homework. Apparently, there was an added benefit as the library was filled with a lot of good-looking girls. In 1981, Francis graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration.

As luck would have it, 1981 was one of the worst years for the US economy and as a fresh graduate, Francis couldn’t get a job so he decided to come back home to the Philippines. He first joined Union Bank as a lending officer, where his father’s good friend, Augusto Barcelon, took him under his wing, Francis says treated him like his own son and taught him a lot, just like his own father would probably have.

In 1984, Francis tried his luck once again in the US and landed a job at a rural Connecticut bank. He later moved to Citibank and stayed with the company until 1988.

It was at this point where Francis found himself at a fork in his career path as he was given two lucrative job offers: one came from Drexel Lambert Burnham, a financial trading house; the other came from a medium-sized advertising company Bozell that needed a deputy chief financial officer for their New York office. Francis joined the latter.

Barely two years later, in 1990, Francis was expatriated to the Bozell subsidiary in Hong Kong covering the Asia-Pacific region. As the CFO fo the said region, one of his tasks was to set up the Bozell network in the area through a series of mergers and acquisitions.

In 1999, Bozell was purchased by True North, a holding company that owned Foote Cone Belding, another heavyweight in the advertising world, which later on merged with Bozell in 2000. That merger gave birth to FCB. In 2002, True North was purchased by Inter-public, the owners of advertising giant, McCann. And in what seems to be a series of events where the hunter becomes the hunted, the CEO of Bozell, the small of the companies merged and bought, is elected chairman of Inter-public in 2004. As part of the reorganization, Francis was promoted from CFO to COO of the larger conglomerate, McCann World Group-Asia Pacific.

As COO of the Asia Pacific Region, Francis has 22 agencies in 14 countries under his supervision including Japan, Korea, China, India, Vietnam, Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, Brunei, New Zealand, Thailand and Taiwan. On top of that, Francis also oversees the different companies operating within the group including McCann Erickson in advertising; Universal McCann in production; MRM Worldwide in digital advertising and communications; McCann Healthcare Worldwide which specializes in advertising of health products and Momentum in events management and direct marketing. Excluding Dentsu, which monopolizes the Japanese market, Worldwide McCann is by far the largest in the advertising industry with the nearest competitor being about a one-fourth smaller.

Francis is based in Hong Kong and reports to the CEO for the region and the CFO for the world group who is based in New York. He is among the top 30 employees among the 15,000-strong McCann workforce. His job compels him to spend about a cumulative total of six months of the year away from home, living in airports and hotels everywhere, from anywhere in Asia to New York or London.

Francis carries with him 18 years of experience in the advertising industry. He says it is basically understanding the product, the clients and the people. He is proud to emphasize he liked to be regarded by his juniors as a partner and claims to be very much a team player in achieving the company goals of revenue growth, profit, and reputation. With him, everyone has to contribute to how best to reach this goal. He adds that very few of his subordinates have left him. He also likes to do things purely on a professional level. No favourites is a basic rule, thus he gives everyone equal opportunities.

In this global industry, Francis says there is indeed a lot of talent in Asia, but he is particularly impressed with the business skills of the Indian. Filipinos, he says, are generally good in technical skills, but are not good listeners and tend to think highly of themselves. He says we could try to emulate the Indians by becoming less fragmented and do away with the crab mentality.

Francis comes from a family of leaders – former President Manual A. Roxas was his maternal grandfather while his paternal grandfather was former Chief Justice Manuel V. Moran. Though leadership is not a matter of lineage or destiny, Francis is exactly where he’s supposed to be. Hard work and determination has put him there.

This article was originally published in Vol. 3 No. 8 of AnimoMagazine.

Words by Luis Miguel “Mike” Gonzales (on the right) with fellow hoodlum Globe President and CEO Ernest Cu. Mike is currently a Vice President at Century Properties involved in the construction division.

Photos were taken by LSGH alumnus, Louie Aguinaldo, a senior partner at Good Shot Studios and owner of Louie Aguinaldo Photography



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