Credit to Author: LOUISE NICHOLE LOGARTA| Date: Sat, 09 Mar 2019 18:32:39 +0000
It happens every so often that people veer off the path laid out before them and, instead, go down another where they shine. So it was in the case of Anna V. Tatlonghari, president of Ayala Land International Sales Inc. (ALISI).
A BS Biology graduate of De La Salle University, Dasmariñas, this bubbly and animated professional says she contemplated studying medicine, going so far as to take the National Medical Admission Test.
But a career in sales won out. “Sometimes, there are things that happen to you that make you change your mind,” she explains. She landed her first job in retail as a store manager for United Colors of Benetton and Marithe + Francois Girbaud, after which she moved on to merchandising as a buyer. The early to mid-1990s signaled the rise of real estate as a lucrative field, and so Anna rode the wave, getting on board Megaworld Corporation, Shang Properties and eventually, Filinvest Alabang Inc. (FAI) where she spent five years as a senior unit manager.
After a year in Cebu helping rebrand Commonwealth Estates, her true passion came in the form of new business development. Ayala Land invited her back with them promising a brand-new position leading a team heading new projects and setting up new endeavors. One project she headed was the conceptualization of commercial pieces of property for rent to potential institutional clients in areas outside Metro Manila such as Bicol, Batangas, Cavite and Antipolo. Another entailed handling the leasing group of Avida as they were gearing up to rent out units.
In 2006, Ayala Land wanted a change in the company’s international operations, and Anna was tasked to lead this. In addition to offices in Rome and Milan, where many Filipinos worked, the company wanted to set up a Dubai office in order to cater to the OFW (overseas Filipino workers) market based there. The following year, Anna transferred from Avida to ALISI and was given the task of handling Channel Development as well as Marketing. Channel Development dealt with tapping overseas sellers, brokers from the US, for instance, to help them market their projects. Marketing, on the other hand, involved implementation of traditional and digital techniques.
After a mere three years, Anna was promoted from Channel Development and marketing manager to general manager and eventually became the first president to assume responsibilities concentrated solely on operations for ALISI.
Commenting on the OFW market, Tatlonghari says: “When you talk about this sector, you’re really talking about the skilled workers and blue-collar professionals, so it’s really a wide scope. But if you try to pinpoint where the OFWs are and what they’re doing, or maybe how they’ve progressed in the past 10 years, we feel that the Filipinos have reached a certain point in the corporate environment especially in Asia.
“If you go to Hong Kong or Singapore, you meet all these CFOs (chief financial officers), for example, or finance practitioners, advertising or IT professionals. You just feel really proud. Even the bankers and the lawyers in Hong Kong are Filipinos. We’ve already progressed from how people think of OFWs. They are now just like the expats you see here. We’re treated the same way in other countries. Though a big chunk is still made up of the engineering, hotel or retail business, we see an increase already in the professionals.”
Their numbers in Ayala Land support that growth. From 400 million pesos in sales in 2005, they have increased to a whopping 10 billion pesos just last year, a clear indicator of the strength of the overseas Filipino market.
Working in Ayala Land is advantageous for Anna as it allows her to expand her knowledge and keep abreast of the latest developments in her field. One such opportunity was being part of Harvard Business School’s Executive Leadership Program. “ALISI is very generous in such a way that they feel that the success of the employees, especially the senior leaders, is really dependent on the education and the training that we get,” she says. “Of course, action is very important but so are the principles that you learn from school, the training that you get in the seminars and the skills that you develop along the way.”
Several batches, each consisting of 50 Ayala Land middle managers, were selected to join the program taught by actual Harvard professors. Despite the pressure to excel, Anna recalls that it was a fun experience. “Perhaps, the major learning there for me was to just be open to new things.”
Travel is also a major factor that makes work fun for the ALISI president. “Who wants to sit in an office all day?” she laughs. Since their market is based overseas, it only makes sense that they are where the projects are. “You just have to bring in the results.”
As president of the international arm of a real estate giant, Anna is constantly bombarded with challenges. Managing relationships and people, whether colleagues or staff, remains a formidable hurdle, especially since the people she works with all have strong personalities. They are competitive by nature. Working with millennials has taught her that the workforce is now composed of individuals who need to find substance and inspiration in their work.
“My push to my team is to not just engage people, but to remind them of why they’re here,” Anna says. “We are guided by Ayala Land values of LIVEM: leadership, integrity, vision, excellence and malasakit.” This allows them to strive further and to do things the right way.”
When she’s not traveling or office bound, Anna says she enjoys eating out and savoring wine, although she would not call herself a fervent “foodie.” A collector of wines for eight years now, she has visited celebrated vineyards such as Napa Valley, Tuscany and Rioja. On her list for future trips are Bordeaux and Burgundy. Locally, she visits Txanton on Chino Roces Avenue where she claims they have a great selection of jamon and Spanish or Argentinian wine.
Her gastronomic penchant stems from childhood. Her French-Vietnamese mother allowed Anna and her sister to sample different kinds of food growing up. On her free days, she spends time with her sister and her parents, who own Bawai, a Vietnamese restaurant with branches in Tagaytay, White Plains, Quezon City and Bonifacio Global City.
If Anna has any words of wisdom to people in all fields and professions, whether old or young, it is this: “Every single thing that happens to you, whether you’re in bad shape or having a good day, just be grateful.
“At the end of the day, what really sustains you is your attitude.”
Dinna Byangos, former ALISI President. I admire her leadership style. She’s got a strong personality, but she can be gentle too.
To influence and help people reach their goals and to finish a legit culinary course in Spain.
FIRST PAYING JOB
Fashion consultant at Marithe + Francois Girbaud in 1994 after graduating. I really thought it sounded cool st the time.
I always start my day with a prayer then I meditate. Run for 30 minutes. Shower. Prepare my own protein drink.
I cook a lot of Asian and comfort food at home, and I bike or walk to save the carbon footprint on weekends.
TIME YOU SPEND ON SOCIAL MEDIA
I love Instagram! I check it probably three times a day, so most likely two hours on weekdays, while weekends are special.
If you go to Hong Kong or Singapore, you meet all these top executives who are Filipinos. You feel really proud. We’ve already progressed from how people think of OFWs