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Saturday, January 18, 2020

Taking flight


You need to have good people all the time — in sales, banquet service, the kitchen. It’s all about service. Everything starts with the people. Having a great team to work with us is the most important part.”

IT is a tale not a few people already know: There was a young, leukemia-afflicted girl named Sadako Sasaki who was told that if she folded a thousand paper cranes, she would be healed.

No one knows if Sadako got her wish to live for many more years. But the tale had a strong impact on Filipino pediatrician Lino Lim. He shared it with his three granddaughters, who later adopted it as the theme of the Marquis Events Place in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City, which they own and manage.

Nowhere is the story more obvious than in the two-year-old facility’s grand ballroom, whose dazzling lighting fixtures reflect a multitude of cranes in flight. “All the facets and details of the chandeliers show the folding and unfolding of the crane,” company president Laura Lim Rodrigo explains. “We really put a lot of thought into developing Marquis Events Place.”

Laura acknowledges that challenges are part of the hospitality game; taking some time off from work on Germany’s highest peak, Zugspitze; and the Marquis ballroom, where the chandeliers feature details of Japanese cranes in flight. CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS

A food industry veteran, Laura found synergy by branching out into events management. For the last 20 years, the Lims have been deep in the restaurant business, operating the popular Spanish dining chain Casa Armas, with Chef Jesus Armas as their industrial partner. It boasts of branches in Greenbelt and on Jupiter Street in Makati City and the Podium mall in Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong City. At Marquis Event Place, Laura’s younger sisters, Lorraine Lim Aguila and Lorlyn Lim Almazora, are active executives and co-managers: the former helps with operations and human resources, while the latter runs purchasing.

Laura declines to view the transition from food to events as “tough.” But she says: “Having come from the food service arena made us ready for battle. That’s a difficult business to run as it has so many variable parts.

“Actually, we’ve seen it all in terms of how demanding customers can be and the service needed to satisfy them. We have always tried to ensure that everything is good for them, providing great service and great food. We’ve been honed in this industry.”

Challenges, she acknowledges, are part of the game. “You need to have good people all the time — in sales, banquet service, the kitchen. It’s all about service. Everything starts with the people.
Having a great team to work with us is the most important part.”

Working with siblings also present tricky situations. Laura does not deny they occasionally have disagreements. “I’m a finance person,” says Laura, who graduated with a business administration degree from the University of the Philippines Diliman and a masters degree from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University in Chicago.

“I am always stopping them from not spending too much or buying a lot of things. We can’t afford it. We do have primary disagreements. In the end, we will agree with something common,” she adds.

“We’ve been working with each other for the longest time, so, we know how we both work together. So far, it’s all okay.”

Prior to returning home, Laura worked in New York in the product management section of pharmaceutical giant Warner Lambert for two years. “But I knew I was going back to the Philippines to start something,” she recalls. “I only needed to gain experience. The entrepreneurial genes have always been there [in me]. Coming from a Chinese family, business was discussed all the time, [even] in our Sunday lunches.”

Another venture of the Lims is Active Fun, which specializes in weekend kiddie parties on weekends and features an indoor playground. It has five branches: Rockwell and Greenbelt in Makati, BGC, SM Megamall in Mandaluyong and Ayala Malls The 30th in Pasig City.

“We have a full kitchen in Active Fun, but we don’t really have kiddie parties on weekdays,” Laura says. “So, we started using our function rooms to attract corporate events. We saw a demand, especially for bigger space from our corporate clients. This is how Marquis Events Place came about.”

From the get go, Laura declares they always envisioned a unique product. “We wanted customers to experience something different from a culinary perspective and provide them the five-star experience. We wanted them to enjoy bespoke service with five-star facilities and distinct culinary artistry. Marquis comes from the French word for “nobility,” she explains. In the Marquis logo, the M has three legs, representing her and her two sisters.

As head of Marquis Events Place, Laura’s key role is to provide the strategic direction for all the company’s business units — general management, sales, operations, finance and marketing. “I guess that’s how it is for a startup company,” she says. “You really work hands on, consistently ensuring that we’re moving toward our goal.”

Married for 13 years, Laura has two daughters, a 10-year-old and a seven- year-old. Preparing them for school normally starts her day, then work kicks in. The hardest part in raising kids these days, she admits, is time management. “I’m always guilty of not spending enough time with my children.” As for her husband, he is involved in his own business, supplying water meters.

What makes this usually driven lady see red? “I’m a very detailed person,” Laura says. “Aesthetics [matter to me]. Everything has to be clean or in its place. I’d notice the smallest thing and call the staff’s attention to it.

“I’m almost a perfectionist.”

In a world where “fast” is the norm, her kind of exacting standards come as an inspiration.

About me

My grandfather, Dr. Lino Lim. He was a very people-oriented person. I honed my business skill with him. Growing up, he would take us along to doctors’ conventions or trade fairs. He opened our eyes to the opportunities out there in the world.

Have a happy family and be a good mother

I worked with product management at Warner Lambert in New York. My first product was the Early Pregnancy Test. I learned about consumer insights. My next product was Neosporin, which helps wounds and cuts heal faster

I check on the two girls and ensure they are ready for school. I lived in New York, so I’m a Yankees fan. I watch a baseball game during the season. That’s my relaxation.

Being able to manage the resources that I am given, whether in business or the family

I’d spend 10 to 15 minutes on Facebook daily. Sometimes even less.

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Today’s Front Page January 18, 2020

Today’s Front Page January 18, 2020