LIKE most successful people, Sheila Lobien starts her workday early, clocking in her office sometimes at 7 a.m. After checking on paperwork and making sure her team is fully prepared, she heads out the door to meet with her clients wherever they may be. It’s certainly no eight-to-five job. Sometimes she comes home close to midnight. But at this point, she says there is no place she would rather be. Lobien is the national director for the Philippines of real estate consultancy Jones Lang LaSalle.
Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated (JLL) is a professional services and investment management company specializing in real estate. It was founded in 1999 through the merger between the British firm Jones Lang Wooton and LaSalle Partners, an American company. Its global headquarters are currently at the Aon Center in Chicago, while its sub-headquarters operate in London to cover the region, and still another one in Singapore, covering the Asia-Pacific market.
The company’s real estate services include agency leasing, capital markets, tenant representation, real estate investment banking, merchant banking, property management, corporate finance, facilities management, outsourcing, and project and development management. It is also publicly listed on the NYSE, with revenues of over $4 billion, and employing about 53,000 employees worldwide across 200 offices in more than 75 countries. It is the second largest publicly traded commercial real estate brokerage firm in the world.
Lobien says JLL has seen remarkable growth in the Philippines. A large part of this, she says, can be attributed to the exponential growth of the business process outsourcing industry, as well as the rise of other sectors, such as manufacturing, finance and retail. She also shares that “in the Philippines there is still great demand for corporate space. Right now, the availability for completed buildings is just 5 percent.”
It also helps, she points out, that the country’s economic growth continues to be one of the best in Asia, making the Philippines an attractive destination for foreign companies wanting to get in on the action.
The pretty lady executive says JLL believes that the figures are not only sustainable, but would continue to rise once the Philippines overcome certain challenges, such as better public infrastructure and public transport. Another key issue she says is the clamor to make available a longer lease term for foreign companies from the present 50 years.
Lobien says her team is currently gearing up for an even busier second half of 2015. As national director, she says her marching orders for herself and her team is to “make sure that we serve our clients well and grow the business.” They have just finished JLL’s latest presentation this September, where regional head Chris Fossick flew in to make the presentation himself, amid a full-house crowd eager to hear the latest developments in real estate in Southeast Asia, the Philippines in particular. They are also preparing for even bigger activities in the coming months, including being one of the main sponsors for the Asia CEO Awards in November.
Indeed, this petite lady seems like a dynamo of limitless energy. This has always been her work ethic, she says, since the time she graduated from a tourism course at UP Diliman. She took an entirely different path than what she originally planned to do, ending up in the real estate business for several other firms before getting hired by JLL in 2008.
Asked what advice she may have for those seeking a path similar to hers, she says there is no substitute to hard work and a good work ethic, and being a good team player. These are the things she says enabled her to get to where she is now. At the same time, she says it is equally important to have quality time with her family and friends, as these keep her grounded, and get off some of the work-related stress. After all, once all the work is done, these are the things that truly matter to make for a life fulfilled.