Henry Sy was born into a poor family in Xiamen, China in 1924. From these humble beginnings, Sy went on to become the richest man the Philippines, according to a 2011 Forbes magazine article. Sy is the chairman of SM Prime Holdings, Inc., and he served as Advisor to the Board of China Banking Corporation from 1994 until April 2014.
Sy attended Chiang Kai Shek College and Far Eastern University. After his schooling, Sy opened a small shoe store in Quaipo, Manila. This store was the seed that eventually turned into SM Prime Holdings, Inc., the largest mall and retail operator in the Philippines. In 1972, Sy established his first department store, and on Christmas day of 1985, Sy opened his first mall. On May 20, 2006, the SM Mall of Asia was opened in Pasay City, Philippines. As of 2014, it is the 10th largest mall in the world. Sy received an Honorary Doctorate of Business Management from De La Salle University in 1999. That same year, Sy was awarded the title "Management Man of the Year" by Makati Business Club. In 2014, Forbes Magazine approximated that Sy's net worth is $12 billion. Sy is also married, and he has six children.