Like every other country, the Philippines has been rocked by the COVID-19 pandemic. It has pulled the national economy down to levels not seen for many years, but the country has not buckled under the pressure.
For prominent property development group Shang Properties, the pandemic’s impact has been felt in every aspect of its operations in the design, development and management of luxury property.
While residential development projects have slowed, its interests in commercial and office developments have felt the full force of COVID-19, but the company has found ways to maintain business and protect its clients.
Executive Director Wilfred Woo puts this down to the determination of the company’s employees and their ability to adjust to changing circumstances. “The Philippine property market has had a very strong cycle for many years before COVID-19 hit the world in early 2020,” he says.
“It’s no surprise that we see a general slowdown in the Philippine economy and property market due to COVID-19. “This is particularly felt in the hotels and shopping malls and now the office sector due to the extended lockdown and its restrictions imposed by the Philippine government.
“However, we did notice that the luxury residential sector, in which our company is involved as well, is not as badly affected as our other sectors. We expect the Philippine property market will continue to be slow over the next few years but will gradually recover over time.”
We use technology to enhance the way we deliver quality products and services to our clients.
Shang Properties has been a key participant in the Philippine property market since 1991. Today, it has a roll call of 500 permanent employees, 400 hotel staff and 700 agency contractors. Its core business interests lie in office and retail leasing as well as residential development.
Its residential portfolio includes high-rise condominium projects including The Shang Grand Tower, St. Francis, One Shangri-La Place, Shang Salcedo Place, The Rise Makati and Aurelia. Shang Properties also has a 60% stake in Shangri-La The Fort, a landmark mixed-use development in the fast-growing urban centre of Metro Manila
Wilfred has been with Shang Properties since 2010; however, his ties to the company began in 1990, when he came on board as CFO for Abbey Woods Development, which was part of Shang Properties’ parent company, The Kuok Group, at the time.
Before that he worked as a chartered accountant with Coopers and Lybrand (now PwC) in Vancouver, Canada. He was extensively involved with Kuok’s property ventures in China from 1992 to 2008.
“I have always found property development very interesting,” Wilfred says. “It is amazing how we take a piece of raw land, put it in an infrastructure and transportation network and turn it into a building – whether it’s an office, shopping mall or high-end residential building – with the intricate design and amenities that go with it.
“I have been involved in property development in many different countries including Canada, China, Indonesia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka. Each of the cultures and needs of its people in these countries are very different, so it’s important that we understand this variation in cultures.”
That experience has given Wilfred a rare insight into developing a collegiate working environment, from which he has instilled a management style that is responsive to what he has learned over the years from senior colleagues.
“The best advice I ever received is from two of my bosses – one previous boss and the current one. Their advice is to listen more to others than you speak, and learn from them,” he says.
“I learned to not rush into any decision hastily; take things one step at a time. My greatest strength as a manager is that I always put myself in the shoes of my employees and try to see things from their perspective. I also do my best to motivate people to bring out the best abilities in them.
“Shang Properties’ business culture is very relaxed, yet very professional. Our employees understand the importance of working hard and doing their best to provide the best products and services that our clients come to expect from us – and that is ‘nothing but the best’. We want our employees to be trained to bring out the best in them and to be proud of what they have achieved.”
Only the best
Shang Properties’ services revolve entirely around the company’s belief in ‘only the best’ for its client base, who expect the ultimate in every facet of their new luxury property. That includes maintaining effective communication as the project comes to fruition.
“We use technology to enhance the way we deliver quality products and services to our clients,” Wilfred says. “In the past year, we’ve enhanced our digital platform to make the Shang brand of luxury accessible online.
Providing on-time information and services to our customers has generated value for our organisation, our customers and stakeholders. As we move forward in Shang Properties, our digital platform will connect seamlessly and engage our customers in this increasingly digital world.”
Shang Properties’ principles of quality are predicated on its reliance for suppliers to deliver the requisite materials and products for its designs.
After 34 years of operations in the Philippines, the company has established supply relationships that it can count on regardless of changing circumstances, including COVID-19. That takes time, but Wilfred says it’s worth every moment to build a rock-solid line of supply.
“The company takes an active role in finding strategic partnerships that value our high standards for craftsmanship, design and quality materials,” he says. “Working in collaboration with architects, designers and artisans who represent the pinnacle of their respective field results in delivering a distinct Shang experience for our customers.
“Over the years there have been four or five contractors we’ve worked with because they’ve delivered what we need. We know what to expect from them, and they understand our need for quality. The more you work together, the better you understand each other. Our joint venture partners include Ayala, Robinsons and San Miguel, with whom we’ve built a mutually beneficial relationship that allows for an open exchange of expertise.”
Aside from its bespoke property projects, Shang Properties is an active contributor to community projects through its charitable coordinating body Kerry Foundation Phils, a not-for-profit organisation that aims to improve the lives of the underprivileged.
It is also a key driver for the company’s goals for sustainability in all its activities. It’s in keeping with what Wilfred sees as his greatest strength: empathy. “I always put myself in the shoes of my employees and try to see things their way,” he says. “When you listen, you learn.”
Proudly supported by: