The Mind of an Executive

13 Minutes with the VP for Operations

As a part-time freelance blogger and a full-time corporate employee, I soundly believe that no one goes to work with the hopes of doing a bad job. Everyone wants to unlock an achievement. Everyone wants to go home by the end of the day feeling like they achieved great things without expending their time. Everyone also wants to be promoted, and one day, one generation of leaders will soon be replaced by another, a phenomenon known by everyone since ancient histories.

I am also a docile millennial with tons of questions and fervor to learn. Hence, coming up with this idea to interview Executives from divergent industries to know their thinking and simultaneously preserve their leadership stratagem so the next generation can be well guided. Who knows one day, you and me can be the next generations of Executive too.  

The interview is strictly only for 13 minutes for a lot of people demands the Executives’ time and attention. Questions are spontaneous (or not sent in advance) to keep it real and heartfelt. Here, we are launching our first ever 13-minute interview with one of the Senior Executives from Cebu Landmasters Inc – Jess M. Kabigting. Jess is currently the Vice- President for Operations, who directly works hand-in-hand with the C-Level Executives of the company, and with span of control over Business Development Department, Leasing Department, Property Management, and Construction Group.

One of the poignant statements I always hear from Senior Execs is that they always feel lonely being on top. Is this true? What makes it lonely?

Yes, for 2 reasons. First, a Senior Exec makes decision that will impact people. Some of them are not going to be popular. Quiet often he becomes alienated from people, simply because, he has to make the hard choices for the good of the company.

Second, the Senior Exec doesn’t have the support system which is easily available for rank and file. Our circle of friends are normally the people at our calibre and it’s hard to surround oneself with such people when you’re on top. It is the price you have to pay because you are after friendship and those beneath you simply deal with you out of difference and respect, not friendship.  

Speaking of friendship, do you have friends in the company?

Yes,mostly the ones at my level.

How do you know they are your friends and not someone covertly destroying or competing with you?

To look at friendship in a general term is to basically have good dealings with them, but real friendship is much deeper. It takes time to discover real ones. Friends are those who sympathise with you and your situation. To understand that, you must be in that level. It’s hard to explain to lower management or middle management something they haven’t experienced firsthand.

How about you, are you trying to compete with someone beneath or at your level?

No. Competition is never my goal. As a Senior Exec, the more you focus on contributing to the success of the company and less on competition, the easier the job becomes. You don’t think about competing with anyone. You think about working with them in order to achieve the greater goals of the company. You don’t really think about who gets the merit. The sooner you get that thinking straight, the easier it becomes for you.

How do you keep up and handle everything in your hand?

I pray. I reflect about what is essential, on what are the important things to be done. Then, I just focus on that.

Do you still have a luxury time? What do you do when you get one?

I don’t get that a lot but when I do, I spend it with my family.

How do you handle reproach, especially when you know you are not at fault?

It’s part of the training on how to become a real Exec. Work on the top comprises mainly of making hard decisions and these decisions are both right or wrong. As a leader, it is but to be expected things will not run perfectly and because of this you get a flak every now and then. If you take it personally, then, the problem is not the system. It is you, because you are bringing in your personal emotions to judge the objective reality being conveyed to you.

Your span of control is quite massive, how do you show your trust to your team? Can you share us your strategy in empowering them?

There is a strategy in shaping people. In order to train people, you must let them make decisions while at the same time guiding them along the way. A leader cannot be a playing coach. A leader is a mentor. You cannot play the game and at the same time coach effectively. You have to be more of a mentor and a mentor is someone who knows and sees the big picture while not missing the details. A mentor also guides his team towards what needs to be done and his team members are being asked to step and to deliver.

Are you more of a sharer or a keeper of your talents and skills? Are you not afraid that someone might surpass you in the company?

What’s the purpose of keeping knowledge? The executive who feels that people will surpass him is an executive who has stopped learning. The challenge for the executive is not NOT TO SHARE. That is why he is there.

What is the greatest challenge of an Executive?

One of the greatest challenges of an executive is to keep on learning. He has to learn more than the others because as a leader he sets the base for the entire team. It’s not a question of not sharing. You have to share. The people beneath you would always need clarity of vision and direction; and an executive can only give that when he is continuously learning and improving his craft.

Are you open to  ideas from the millennials? How do you handle them when they become annoying?

As a generation X, there is big gap between Xs, Ys and millennials. A Senior Exec just needs to learn how to deal with millennials and accepts their limitations because that is where the future is.

They are raised in a modern environment so they need more time to accept reality to what it is, which the generations X and Y have. So, how do I deal with them? One word – Patience! Millennials are like that because it’s not their fault. Millennials grow in an environment where everything is provided for, where everything is quite easy to get, where everything is technology driven, yet, life is not like that.

Any exhorts to make Monday a little bit more exciting?

Any day of the week is exciting for me when I know that I am about to do something good for people and when I know that I will be challenged to use my skills and talents to the fullest. You should think it that way too. 

As a senior exec in real estate, what is that biggest dream you wanted to achieve still? Or have you achieved it already?

My biggest dream is not the top position of the company. I am not after presidency or being the owner.  My biggest dream and aspiration in real estate industry is TO BUILD and the greatest thing that you can build is a CITY. At a certain point in life, money won’t matter essentially. What drives the person forward is the innate fire – what is that something you want to give. For someone in my industry, we build things from scratch.  When the time comes and I am already building an entire city from scratch, then, you can say that I have accomplished my life goal.

End of 13 minutes yet I felt like asking and hearing more. One hat an Executive wears is GREAT PASSION, and this was seen by the way he lucidly answers all my questions- very candour in everything to his heart’s content. Indeed, with passion at work, one can fashion wonderful things, help others, be productive, be successful, and most of all be genuinely happy with the results. Without passion, one will just simply wither and not grow –sitting in a desk every day, dull and bored and just waiting for the payday. 

Look forward to the next article as we unearth the mind of another executive.

How will you write a literary piece using Accounting Terms in 20 minutes?

Tired from work I wanted to sleep

Been a long day – meetings and signing checks

Cold and eerie, where’s my duvet?

Up in a closet folded neatly.

***

Thug Thug Thug suddenly drowning in tears

Anybody care to notice?

Looked around, there’s no one.

Except a shadow of a man.

***

Real Estate Business at stake

A corporation I can no longer keep

Disordered with all Liabilities

Loans, Bonds…. Oh No, the company is in bad debts

***

Debauchery enveloped the mind

Expenses of some kind

Salaries, Utilities, Supplies, Insurance

How then can my people survive?

***

Assets all exhausted.

No more cash and equivalents.

Financial statements read red

Can someone offer help?

***

Scared but has to try

Knocking at door’s friend for a bullion or in-kind

Embarrassing, I know

A CEO begging for dough

***

Lamenting in verses, couldn’t take

Weeping hard as I hit the letters

I am sorry investors, creditors, suppliers

Bankruptcy, today I declare.

***

Now, what to do, send this letter-to-all for info?

Or keep in an email draft to buy time or two

High heavens I’m begging you

Either Liquidity or Solvency will do.

***

Dag, dag, dag, I awoke

Called the office and speak to the CFO

“Steph, is the company balance and up?”

“Joe, relax! Everything is up and about.”

***

Editor’s Note: Cebu Landmasters Inc sent us for a 2-day training in Basic Accounting Workshop for Non-Accountants. Earlier, we were given a task to write a literary piece using accounting terms.  We were given only 20 minutes to finish the activity. Above prose was our entry and Choco Bar below was our prize.

Townhall Meeting with the Masters

Townhall meeting is one of the most important and notable events of Cebu Landmasters Inc. (CLI). CLI holds this meeting bi-annually and is attended by each and every family member of the organisation. It is that auspicious moment when the heads of the family present what has been happening to the lineage for the past months or what will happen in the next months. Today is the first townhall meeting of CLI for Y2018 and surprisingly a bucketload of good news has been echoed to everyone.

The meeting formally started with EVP for Operations, Jose Franco Soberano, sharing the company’s significant milestones for the first 6 months of 2018:

  1. 5.8 Billion sales in less than 6 months (compared to 1.1B biggest sales in 2012)
  2. 51 Projects in Key Cities, in different stages of development
  3. No. 1 Local developer in Cebu with 18% share of all active projects; No. 1 fastest selling condo in Davao and Cagayan; On track to be the No. 1 Developer in Visayas and Mindanao (VisMin).
  4. Publicly listed company and had attended the annual shareholders meeting
  5. Received prestigious awards (the only VisMin awardee for BCI Asia)
Jose Franco Soberano feels ecstatic engaging with one of his staff and at the same time a buyer of CLI property.

We are really sustaining our momentum and I am confident we can exceed the target this year. We are taking CLI at a greater scale. Trajectory is stable and the journey continues. What we are doing now is not enough and there is still much we can do”, reverberated by Franco as he advanced his disquisition to the next pace: What’s next for CLI?

  1. 23 projects launching this 2018
  2. New expansion cities in 2019: General Santos, Ormoc, Butuan and Roxas
  3. Landbank – 1, 079 542 sqm

He also highlighted Davao Matina Business District project juxtaposing it to Fort Bonifacio in Manila. The project’s intent is to help the city and its dwellers. He also made mentioned each team and its accomplishments contributing to the success of the company, starting off with Accounting and Finance, Business Development, Customer Care, Engineering, HR and Admin, Documentation, Legal, Licenses, Property Management, Purchasing and wrapping it off with Sales. It was a well-applauded presentation making each member feeling proud of its ancestry.

Supervening Franco’s yarn is the visionary Chairman and CEO of CLI, Joe Soberano. Everyone was sharply listening to the Father of the family speaking with illumine wisdom and shrewdness the moment he took the center stage. He encapsulated the whole schmear in this phrase, “It only boils down to one reason for having been able to do it… it’s because basically of the people behind the organisation. This is important for us to realise that this is the key and focal point of our organisation. How valuable the company is or has become is because of the people behind the organisation. We have to always bear in mind that you are the extension of the company. Its not just working hard within the office but even when you go outside the office; how you will carry yourself; how you will impart the message to the different people you will be interacting outside; even the matter of having to share your time and the things that go around in the office with your family…something that you have to bring forth in a very positive way because this is the company that will continue to strive to bring more not just for the people or the market that we are serving  but also for us.”

Joe Soberano intently listening to all his staff suggestions to further refine CLI’s current management system,  employee’s well being, training and others.

Joe also emphasised the weight of refining and boosting the well-being of every CLI employee. He encouraged small group activities, excursions, even the spiritual side of things in order to create camaraderie and goodwill. He also imparted how he values work -life- family-balance, the rationale why CLI working hours was tapered down from 6 to 5 days. As quoted, “We want you to be with your family and enjoy the weekend with them. While work is very important, it is also equally important to share the fruit of our work to those who are close to us.”

He further alluded how things can be of convenience for employees who cannot afford to acquire a private vehicle yet. He also remarked the activation of corporate social responsibility programs and the promotion of goodwill by constantly being able to develop quality products.

Newly-promoted employees were also broadcasted during the event. Some faces bolt from the blue when they heard their names called upon.  An open forum also took place where few employees aired out their humble suggestions and which were well-received by the management.

Congratulations Promotees!

The EVP for Finance, Marose Soberano, has also made a short note. She was underlining the importance of being a family helping each other. “Help us. Help you. Help us take care of every family members” as she zealously raised to everyone.

Marose Soberano standing as the ever-loving Mother of the CLI family.

The Townhall meeting curtained with a photo op and a sumptuous dinner everyone shared.  It was indeed a moment with and for the family connecting and reconnecting with one another — a creme de la creme working with the masters.

The Cebu Landmasters Inc. one big family.

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The blackjacket story: I have always been proud wearing this identity whether I am in a client meeting or traveling back to home town.Definitely, I’m a proud Cebuana working with the masters.