AFTERNOON coffee with Leonardo Arthur “Leo” T. Po revealed his passion for the sustainable developments he has been involved with through ArthaLand—the Philippines’ premier green developer. A revered and multi-awarded organization, ArthaLand has earned renown and a distinguished reputation under his leadership, although his exposure in the real estate industry came relativelWy new in his life.
Leo is currently the executive vice president and treasurer of ArthaLand, but he simultaneously holds the position of director and treasurer of Shakey’s Pizza Asia Ventures Inc. and Century Pacific Food Inc.—two companies that his family owns as part of their vast food and canning empire.
He started working in Century Pacific at the young age of 23, immediately after graduating from Boston University with a degree in Business Administration and Marketing. From 2002 to 2010, he was simultaneously designing, building and operating stores as the operations manager for Yoshinoya, a Japanese fast food chain franchise that his family also owns, two outlets of which are found in Cebu City. This continued all the way to his promotion as general manager of Yoshinoya Century Pacific Inc. It was during his tenure at Yoshinoya that he started to learn about construction and the real estate industry.
His family has always been in the food business. Leo was a year old when his father, Ricardo S. Po Sr., started Century Canning Corp. in Bagumbayan, Taguig City in 1978. Then in 1984, the company started 555 Sardines. Eventually, they further branched out into more food categories including Blue Bay Tuna, Argentina Corned Beef, Angel Milk, Birch Tree Milk, and Swift Canned and Fresh Processed Meats. Most recently, the company has started a coconut water business and is the exclusive distributor of Vita Coco in the Philippines. The food products of the company are all under Century Pacific Food Inc., a company that was listed in the Philippine Stock Exchange in 2014, of which his father still serves as chairman emeritus and Leo, along with his siblings—vice-chairman Ricardo, chief executive officer and president Teodoro, and executive chairman Christopher—serve as the executives and directors.
Real estate was something Leo’s father was always interested in. Over the years, Ricardo Sr. bought several lots in Makati City as an investment but eventually had to sell them as “he did not then have the time” to run a successful real estate business while he was growing his food business. Then in 2010, Leo’s good friend, Enrique Y. González, invited the Pos to join his father Jaime C. González’s real estate company, ArthaLand Corp. Interestingly, when Ricardo Sr. and Jaime first met, they didn’t talk about deals nor terms for a partnership. They talked about their management philosophies and their vision for the company moving forward. Both gentlemen found that they shared the same values and principles, which eventually became the foundation for their strong partnership in ArthaLand. In 2011, the Po family officially joined ArthaLand with a majority stake in the company. What attracted the Pos to ArthaLand was its strong management team and its core focus on excellent design, high quality, sustainability and innovation.
Leo’s passion for sustainability further evolved with his involvement in Arthaland. The first project Leo was involved in for ArthaLand was Arya Residences, a two-tower development in Bonifacio Global City (BGC), with a total of 507 units catering to the high-end market.
“It is the first and only residential building in the Philippines to receive a Leed (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification from the US Green Building Council, and also the first and only residential project to be given the Berde (Building for Ecologically Responsive Design Excellence) 4-Star certification by the Philippine Green Building Council,” said Leo.
“Our second signature project was the ArthaLand Century Pacific Tower in BGC, a premium grade office development, which has received both Leed Platinum and 5-Star Berde certifications, the highest and most prestigious categories in both green building rating standards.”
Now, ArthaLand is in Cebu developing a landmark office building, the Cebu Exchange, “which will be the biggest and best green building outside Metro Manila with almost 110,000 square meters of gross floor area and is scheduled to be finished by 2022. Like all of our developments, Cebu Exchange will be dual green-certified.” As Leo shared: “We see real value in sustainability. It is not just about landscaping and placing recycling bins in your buildings. Sustainability is really about efficiency, maximizing the use of resources and reducing waste. In business, efficiency is very important, as this is where we derive profit. What this translates to for the people living and working in our projects is that they use less power and less water, thus paying lower costs to live in their homes or operate their businesses. However, it isn’t just about profit. Sustainability is also about leaving something behind for future generations, because the world has limited and valuable resources we shouldn’t waste. Not only do we design our buildings to provide capital value and lower costs by way of efficient operations, but by maximizing resources, reducing waste, and creating healthy environments, we aim to provide a better future for all our stakeholders and to the communities we are present in.”
With this, Leo is still passionate about pushing things further and learning to be a better real estate developer and leader. But above all, he is passionate about his family.
“I enjoy spending the rest of my time with my wife, Marielle and my three sons. I enjoy being present in their lives and we enjoy making memories together by visiting various
places. We like traveling to San Francisco and the Bay Area when we have more time. But for short trips, we equally enjoy going to Hong Kong, Singapore and different beaches all over the Philippines.” He added, “Being a good father and being
able to give my children the same opportunities that my family gave me to learn, grow, and succeed is what inspires and challenges me. Which, in human terms, is also all about efficiency, sustainability and legacy.”