Mentoring in the real-estate industry

In Photo: Atty. Maria Cristina Samson, co-president, The Net Group and Bhavna Suresh, CEO, Lamudi Group, Philippines

“I AM not a teacher but an awakener,” said Robert Frost, who has been a guiding principle for me when mentoring a new generation of talents.

Never has the need for mentoring been more pronounced than in one of my favorite fields—real estate—where technology, regulatory changes, climate change, generational preferences have created a more uncertain, if not a V.U.C.A., world for practitioners, both young and veterans alike.

The Urban Land Institute Philippines (ULI) Young Leaders Group and the ULI Women’s Leadership Initiative are bringing something exciting to the table: the first ULI Philippines Mentorship Program.

Carlos Rufino, CEO The Net Group and Arch. Joel Luna, principal, Joel Luna Planning + Design

The program is envisioned to be an enriching avenue for young individuals with strong leadership potentials who can gain a unique, firsthand experience—learning from the best of the best in the industry by helping them expand their networks, cultivate skills and develop their understanding of real estate. It aims to bridge traditional and new perspectives, foster ideas of innovation and provide mentors the opportunity to share industry secrets gained from their years of experience to these emerging professionals.


When asked about what gave them the idea to put together a mentorship program in the Philippines, Mikko Barranda, cochairman of the Young Leaders Group (YLG), explained that other Asian countries, like Singapore and Hong Kong, have successfully implemented mentorship programs through ULI.

Julia Nebrija, assistant general manager, MMDA and Hannah Yulo, chief investment officer, DoubleDragon Properties Inc.

The program is aimed to be both multidisciplinary and spread out through the spectrum. “It will give mentees exclusive access to industry experts in different fields of real estate and learn from their success and failures,” he said. “The mentors will cover anywhere from finance, design and architecture, real-estate development and consultancy, and even technology.”

Ange Yapyuco, the other half of chair for YLG, highlights the ULI mission to bring together leaders from different fields of real estate. “The program becomes a unique venue for both seasoned veterans and young leaders to come together, to learn and to gain a fresh perspective on the industry.” She believes that, through this program, they can help strengthen ties in the real-estate industry across all age groups.

David Leechiu, CEO, Leechiu Property Consultants, Arch. Anna Maria Sy, managing director, CS Design Consultancy Inc., Philippines and Jackson Ongsip, chief financial officer, Belle Corp.

Meanwhile, Tina Samson, the chairman of the Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI), is pushing for this initiative to help educate the younger generation. “I’ve always been a strong believer of education,” she said. “I’ve had the benefit of having mentors during the course of my career. So I wanted to give back to society and provide this opportunity to the younger generation of people who would like to advance in their career in real estate—particularly with respect to women.”

She acknowledges that women in the real-estate industry are not as recognized as the men, and this is why she intends to give that voice through the women through the mentorship program. The training it will provide will give them the benefits of not only seeing the industry through the lens of a leader, but also to see women who have established their name in the field.

Mario Berta, CEO, FlySpaces

Together, the YLG and WLI have put together a list of mentors—five men and five women, all leaders in their own field. The list is indeed impressive, which includes the likes of Joel Luna, previously of Ayala Land Inc. and now the principal of Joel Luna Planning + Design; Bhavna Suresh, CEO of Lamudi Group, Philippines; Mario Berta, CEO of Flyspaces; and Hannah Yulo, chief investment officer of DoubleDragon Properties Inc.

Asked on why they accepted to be one of the mentors for the program, Luna said it is a great honor. “During one’s professional career you will always have superiors or bosses, but it is rare to have a mentor. People who are more senior and seasoned are willing to give their time.”

Yulo said she is blessed to have many mentors in several aspects of her life. “I believe everybody needs a mentor in life, whether if it’s in business, making life decisions, or in sports. There’s always someone that we can all learn from.”

Berta sees the need for mentors on a national scale. “In the Philippines we need to foster the ecosystem. In order to foster the ecosystem, you need the right guys to give the right kick, who have already been in the same situation trying to give back.”

Suresh also believes in sharing the knowledge she has gained from the guidance of her own mentors. “For people who are hungry to succeed—not just succeed, but to do better and always try to evolve more. You have to reflect not just internally, but you also need external direction. For people who also strive forward in life, I think the next tool is mentorship.”

There are more mentors ready to impart their knowledge to the chosen mentees of ULI Philippines Mentorship Program. Through this initiative, ULI will bridge the gap between experienced executives and future leaders of real estate by fostering an exchange of professional ideas. This unique experience awaits those who will be chosen from the selection process by the ULI committee.

​ Aspiring mentees between the age of 20 to 35 must show commitment, leadership qualities and the drive to advance in the real-estate industry. Preferred applicants should be an undergraduate or must have work experience in the real-estate industry or related field, including development, architecture, planning, government, transportation, engineering, finance, sustainability and nonprofits. Those selected will have a chance to not only  interact with the mentors, but also to see the organization of ULI at work.

ULI, as the preeminent multidisciplinary real-estate forum, has always pushed for collaboration and sharing knowledge. In Asia alone, the institute already has more than 1,800 members worldwide. It has nearly 40,000 members. As a global platform that brings together industry leaders, communication and education are of utmost importance. Luna agreed—pointing out that the uniqueness of ULI is in its broader reach; not just in real estate, but in all aspects of the build. “It’s the kind of networking you are able to foster among various members and leaders in the organization,” he said. “It’s very focused on sharing knowledge—connecting you to other professionals in various fields.”

ULI Philippines officially launched its first ULI Mentorship Program for 2017 recently at Acceler8 in Paseo de Roxas, Makati City. They will be able to meet their mentors and have a peek on what’s in store for the aspiring applicants.

According to marketing guru Brad Geiser, who has developed programs for marketing and business development mentorship, he cautions us not to look for mentors as being older than you. “Sometimes, it’s better to learn from people who have acquired wisdom in new ways of doing things.”

Turning Points 2018
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