ALTHOUGH senior vice president Manny Estrella has been in the real estate industry for the past 24 years, it did not start out that way. He began as a trainer for an insurance company, then worked with sales in the consumer industry, and eventually ventured into properties.
The Business Administration graduate from the University of the Philippines-Diliman also took up a Master’s Degree in Urban and Regional Planning while juggling his penchant for tennis and badminton. He eventually met his wife, Virginia, who he has been married to for 23 years.
At some point in his career, the father of three was involved in several organizations—where he took the role of corporate representative for two of them (CREBA and Philippine Marketing Association). After his experience of working for various companies in the industry and aggressively pushing the limits of sales and growth, he later got involved with doing consultancy work for different companies in different industries.
“Prior to Paramount Properties, I worked as their consultant to improve sales,” said Estrella, who also emphasized the inability for sales to succeed on itself, hence, the need for other groups to be fine-tuned to support sales before revenues are realized.
“Paramount eventually invited me to be part of its organization as a full-time personnel in charge of the business unit.”
“The major attraction to Paramount is the management’s openness to change and its appetite for growth.” He said that welcoming the best practices with the drive to professionalize, improve systems and processes and its willingness to take bold but calculated moves are signs that the company would be a major player in the short term. “Given a highly competitive playing field, Paramount will differentiate itself from the others through its designs, communities, property management, customer servicing and a lot of other things to make itself the developer of choice of the end user and investor market.”
Manny Estrella’s Industry Secrets:
“Creating a seller-friendly environment is a key factor for sellers to push projects, while good leadership is a critical ingredient needed in order to move a company to a higher level. This is expressed in terms of pushing the mindset to revenues that may seem impossible to achieve but are actually achievable,” he said. “The first step would be raising the confidence level of those who will execute the plan. The rewards systems are in place to boost morale. Employees with high morale can perform twice the capacity of employees with low morale.”
“Celebrate small victories and let everyone realize their role in their achievement. Some of the magic words are decentralize, empower, result ownership and appreciation. Let us bring the creative and artistic Cebuano designs to the other parts of the country, and I am sure we will be able to compete with the big developers.”
The real estate industry was not where Paramount’s vice president for sales and marketing / international operations Arli Arenas-Vergara started her career either. After graduating as a Bachelor of Science in Accountancy from the University of San Carlos, she took a job in the banking industry. How she became a real estate broker is what she describes as an accident.
“The turning point was in 2005. I was enjoying work life at the bank for almost a decade when a boss came up to me and gave me an opportunity to take the real estate broker’s exam.” She said that since she had been assigned in the Consumer Banking Group-Housing / Auto Loans Department at that time, she felt that there was no reason to not take it. “I studied hard though because my company spent for that exam and I didn’t want to disappoint them. To my surprise, I topped it! That must have been a very clear sign to shift career goals. Nevertheless, it took me four years before I actually joined the real estate industry.” She started working for Paramount Property Ventures Inc. in 2011.
“To this day, I love the challenge of the sales work. Every day, I manage various groups— from my In-House Sellers (about 100 of them), the Brokers (thousands of them)—not only in Cebu but also the VisMin Area, work colleagues and clients too,” she said, also describing herself as a people person who enjoys being able to talk to people who come from different walks of life.
“Paramount wants to bring our communities to Filipinos abroad. So, for this year, that will be my focus. We recently had a sales trip in Singapore and next month, we are going to Dubai. We are also eyeing Japan and the United States,” she said, indicating a bright future for the company.
Arli Arenas-Vergara’s Industry Secrets:
“There are two things I love most about my job: One is when I am able to see my sellers succeed and the other is that I am happy and I feel most achieved when I am able to help clients find the best home for their family. More so, when we are able to provide them with a beautiful home and safe neighborhood to live in—it gives me a sense of achievement learning that another family is blessed with a Paramount home,” said Arenas-Vergara, who is also a self-proclaimed proud working mom. “Because I am a parent, I understand how important it is for us to give our children a good shelter.”
She also said that what helps her through working with her position in the industry is a work-life balance.
“I see to it that I find time for myself. Aside from my kids as my personal stress-relievers, I turn to yoga to keep myself fit and healthy. Yoga disconnects me from my daily routine.”