By: Prof. Enrique Soriano

JULIE’S Bakeshop scorecard: thirty-eight years in the bakeshop industry with hundreds of franchisees throughout the country including Asia and Canada. But the “other” credentials are not based on profit and expansion alone.  They include old fashioned values and their application.

Julie Gandionco’s success (I fondly call her Ma’am Julie) is a testimony to the proper application of ageless wisdom.  She is a spokesperson for the values of service, discipline, forgiveness, and ‘hands on’ knowhow.

Feed the Peopleis her company’s mission.   Here, Ma’am Julie points the way: Eating really good bread and engaging the labor force. She reminds us that “feeding the people” is more than just business, philosophy or psychology.  It is spiritual prose.  Then and now, “feeding the people” is one of the great tasks faced by farmers, fisher folks, indigenous peoples, entrepreneurs, service workers, executives, administrators, managers and politicians. There is no way out and it isn’t an easy responsibility.

How many loaves of bread can a person consume in a lifetime?  What is the recommended daily nutritional allowance needed from bread alone to stay healthy? Ma’am Julie could have probably considered these questions when she specifically intended her mission to “feed the people” with bread.  As we all know bread is a favorite breakfast and snack item with or without filling.  Bread comes readily with coffee, tea, cola, cocoa, ginger, soup and juice.

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.  Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime” is Ma’am Julie’s motto.  This motto is of great interest today.   Jesus fed a multitude with only a few pieces of bread which multiplied till everyone was fed and yet, there remained several baskets of excess bread.  Ma’am Julie’s first bakeshop opened on January 6, 1981, a day for gift-giving. “I asked God to give me this, to make it work, to make it succeed. I asked God for only one but He gave me more than I ever dreamed of…”  Surely, God destined her with a mission: “to feed the people”.

As an offer to Filipino workers, Julie’s Bakeshop chain has trained and employed a substantial number of workers for three decades.  Currently Julie’s Bakeshop has over 4,000 staff and more than 500 stores nationwide. To top it all, Julie’s Franchise Corporation (JFC) has plans to open more franchises in emerging Asian markets. There are simultaneous talks to grow in the Middle East especially in Dubai.

Take care of your people” is not an uncommon advice.  Almost all great leaders worked with this maxim.  By and large, today as yesterday, “taking care of your people” remains the cultural legacy in which the best service is conceived, nurtured and brought to completion.  “Taking care of your people” is a rung on the ladder bridging heaven and earth.  In essence, it also means “forgiveness”.  Forgiving an erring employee or co-worker is as old as the human race. During my stint as strategic and growth advisor many years ago, Senior Managers regale me with lots of stories on how erring employees who were reprimanded eventually found out that Maam Julie has a soft and forgiving heart despite her being a disciplinarian and stickler for hard work.

The first thing that we learn is that life is conflict-laden.  It appears that “forgiveness” is part of the spiritual growth of people who are seeking God.  It can be said that the cross and the rainbow remind us of how to forgive and take care of other people.  Otherwise, why should bread and wine be the form Jesus used to nourish the soul?

Discipline and Hands-on” knowhow– is the gist of doing tasks the old-fashioned way.  Baking, attending to customers, managing a bakeshop, training, cleaning, even franchising are all done through discipline and hands on knowhow. These two practices promote humility and facilitate group dynamics. It’s a stretch for one to imagine the over five hundred plus stores of Julie’s Bakeshop chain doing the same job – and the timing and speed so right day by day providing customers with bread steaming hot from morning to night time.  To be successful in any enterprise demands discipline and hands on knowhow.

It’s time to eat bread, the Julie’s way!


Prof Enrique Soriano is a World Bank/IFC Governance Consultant, Senior Advisor of Post and Powell Singapore and the Executive Director of Wong + Bernstein, a research and consulting firm in Asia that serves family businesses, family offices and family foundations.

He is an associate member of the Singapore Institute of Directors (SID) and an advisor to business families worldwide, a sought after governance speakers, and the author of many articles and publications, including two best-selling Family Business books (Ensuring Your Family Business Legacy). To know more about his books, you can email