During the pandemic, shutdowns across the globe caused supply chain problems, delaying and halting most property development projects and driving up costs considerably. Delays in the supply chain have also increased initial construction expenses, affecting developers and real estate professionals globally. When it comes to the real estate sector in the Philippines, there is no difference. Apart from rising property development costs, it has also had a significant impact on employment and work arrangements.

Federal Land Inc., established as one of the leading property developers in the Philippines, has regained its pace as the real estate market continues to expand in the middle of 2021 despite the challenges. The premiere real estate firm has come a long way from humble beginnings, their 50+ years of experience proved valuable as it allowed them to demonstrate their ability in continuing the development of innovative properties especially during the pandemic.

With the recent establishment of a joint venture firm with Nomura Real Estate, under the name Federal Land NRE Global, Inc. (FNG), the joint venture intends to combine Japanese innovation with Federal Land’s mastery of the Philippine market as Federal Land continues to expand its operations in the country.

Maryann Amamangpang, the Head of Human Resources at Federal Land Inc., was recently interviewed by Asia Select. She shared that the company’s capacity to be agile and cope with ambiguity enabled the firm to retain talents and consistently hire critical roles. With the recent joint venture launch with Nomura Real Estate, the organization currently employs 600+ professionals and will continue to grow in the next 2-3 years, fueling the excitement of new graduates and young professionals and providing them with learning and career opportunities.

Interview Transcript:

As one of the leading Real Estate companies in the Philippines, what are the organizational challenges Federal Land has faced so far, particularly during the pandemic? How did those challenges help the organization thrive?

2020 and 2021 were very challenging years for most companies. One of the greatest challenges during that time was transitioning because Federal Land did not have hybrid arrangement setup before the pandemic, and we had never done it before. We wanted to focus on how to ensure people were still productive, and at the same time, to know they are engaged and safe.

We dealt with those challenges by being consciously agile, and on how the organization will be able to face challenges head on. We put measures in place and talked to Senior leaders to ensure that we were still connected with each other. Productivity measures were reinforced, and I think those were the ones that really helped us thrive during that time.

We also had regular ‘kamustahan’ sessions, where we had all these chat rooms and the President and the Chairman, would come in to check on them. Because of these chat groups, employees felt that Federal Land was looking out for them, building that sense of community and family.

With 50 years of history in redefining the Philippines’ skyline, being one of the top real estate organizations, what were the achievements that the company has accomplished?

Last year we celebrated our 50th Anniversary, as one of the premiere Philippine Real Estate developers led by our Chairman, Alfred V. Ty. It was a milestone for us to reach 50 years. When you think about Federal Land, having started in very humble beginnings, and with our late Group Chairman, George SK Ty, he had a vision to build quality homes for the Filipinos for generations to enjoy. So much has happened for the past 50 years and there were so many joint ventures with various developers. We have a luxury project with SM, and we are also very proud that we have established a joint venture with Nomura Real Estate.

Nomura Real Estate is one of the biggest real estate developers in Japan. We formed a new joint venture to elevate the experience and introduce a new way of living in the country. We’re looking at how Federal Land would bring in the extensive knowledge of the Philippine real estate market and reputation for well-built and innovative properties and Nomura Real Estate and with the formation of FNG, to integrate the best of Japanese innovation, technology, and design. So in a nutshell, we are very proud of how Federal Land has grown from where it started 50 years ago to where it is now.

The organization expands and continuously hires Architect and Engineer professionals. What qualities should these job candidates have for them to be qualified?

We do hire a lot of Engineers and Architects and aside from the functional/technical expertise, what we’re looking out for in terms of competencies are candidates that are highly skilled in being action-oriented, results-driven, having self-awareness, as well as being mental and people agile.

We are also looking at the behavioral side. We want to ensure that the person’s values align with the company values, and this helps us determine if the person is going to be here for the long haul.

What are the job opportunities that fresh graduates and experienced professionals can look forward to in the next 2 to 3 years at Federal Land, Inc.?

When I first joined last 2016, we had 200+ people. Now we are reaching almost 600, and with that, you see exponential growth despite the pandemic.

All I can say is that exciting times are up ahead for Federal Land, and the skyline will definitely change. It will be very exciting for the people here because there are so many learnings on the horizon. The creation of this new company FNG will give our people the opportunity to learn from our Japanese partners, learning opportunities such as cross-posting, talent exchange programs, etc.

We always want to ensure that when new people come here, they feel that they are included and that their voices will be heard. Our employee engagement activities are led by Gen Zs and millennials. HR is there just to give guidance, but they have the free hand to think about these activities because we believe it’s a good venue to develop the next generation leaders since they will learn budget preparation, speak with vendors, collaborate with other groups, and channel their creative thoughts to craft something concrete.

During the pandemic, some employees were laid off and some were almost impossible to return, which tightened company staffing and made it difficult for companies to resume operations. What employment strategies did you implement to address these challenges?

During the pandemic, we continuously hired critical positions because we knew that these roles will be valuable to us post-pandemic. Second, we strengthened our candidate database. We proactively reached out to candidates, built our database, knowing that when the pandemic ultimately slows downs or ends, we would be top of mind.

How do you keep your team motivated despite the challenges that existed during and after the pandemic?

In Federal Land, we have a workplace that is results driven but with a foundation of family & community. It is both collaborative and supportive of each other, especially during the pandemic. Even after office hours, we would check on each other. People were motivated because we were constantly asking how their families were doing and they knew that this was a company that cared for them. That empathy and connectedness is what binds and strengthens us as a company.

What do you think are the Hiring Challenges the organization will face in 2023?

In the past two years, it is very evident that people have been used to working remotely, not just in real estate but also across various industries. Offshore companies that offer 100% WFH are a key challenge, especially for other companies who are requesting people to return onsite. Second, the pandemic has also forced some people to revisit their priorities in life. You’d be surprised about some people who were highflyers, who could be the next senior executives, who now have decided to lay low, return to their province and live a different life.

That is also a key challenge, because the talent you are losing has redefined their life purpose, and that is something that you must face as an HR leader because it’s reality. Another challenge in the next few years, would be the proliferation and use of AI.  In the other western countries, this is already happening where some jobs are taken over by robotics and with that, people should start thinking of reskilling or reinventing themselves to continue being relevant.

What strategic plans are you implementing to retain and attract talents?

In terms of attracting talents, we want to make sure that Federal Land is a company where continuous learning is provided and that you see this company as a place where you want to retire in. Career development plans for talents are vital so as early as a new candidate comes in, we already discuss what is the probable development plan at their particular career stage, and we take a deep dive to ask them what they want to do. From there, we can partner with their heads on targeted development plans for them.

At the same time, it is also retaining talents because people always want to find out about what their purpose is and if there is a career development runway. We must create those opportunities for them because nowadays, the terrain has changed dynamically, and we need to ensure that we ride with these changes while also adapting to them.

Do you believe recruitment search firms are capable of finding and identifying the right people for organizations? Why? Why not?

If you are a recruitment firm, what you do is get the information from HR or from any other point person within the company that you’re servicing, and you may only be able to scratch the surface on the key challenges of the recruitment or talent acquisition team on a daily basis, i.e., how they interact with various hiring managers, how the position has evolved, and so on. Those things could be a probable gap. So, it is important that a recruitment firm has a firm grasp and a deep understanding of an industry, and to know how the jobs or positions are constantly evolving.

A recruitment firm is helpful but at the same time I think there should be a deeper dive to understand the business, the challenges, and the issues, and that can only happen if you work side by side with somebody within the company, and if it’s allowed, to have that immersion and understanding of what the challenges are as well as the qualifications needed.

Leadership: What are the most important attributes of successful leaders today?

To become a key leader, I believe you must be able to deal with ambiguity, be agile, adaptable, and have empathy. With adaptability, which is also very much aligned with dealing with ambiguity, enables you to adapt to changes. You are able to see the learnings from the past, while also knowing how to ensure that you’re adept on the current trends and to come up with the right solutions because of these new changes.

I think sometimes some leaders are very results-driven that they forget the importance of having empathic relationships with their people. You need that connection because remember, you work through others.

As AI comes in, one day it will eventually replace all transactional jobs. It could be jobs in recruitment, finance, accounting, or clerical work. That’s when dealing with ambiguity, being agile and adaptable, will allow you to reinvent yourself.

Recruitment: What are top 3 critical qualities of candidates?

  • Action-oriented
  • Drive for results
  • Strong communication skills

Federal Land: What is your favorite part working for Federal Land?

I’ve been with Federal Land for seven years now and it always goes back to how I love seeing the people here grow. Whatever I’ve learned, I believe I’ve imparted to them. From 2016 until now, so much has happened in this company, and it has grown significantly. At the same time, I really like working with the Ty family because they are very kind people. I can see firsthand how they embody their father’s vision of creating dynamic communities for future generations to enjoy. I also love working with my team, which is mostly made up of millennials. These factors make working for Federal Land worth the stay.

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