Sheila Lobien on being Filipina


The country’s competitive property industry has been traditionally male-dominated but being a woman in this industry offers several advantages, says Lobien Realty Group CEO Sheila Lobien.

“First of all, women bring a different perspective and approach to the industry, which can lead to innovative solutions and fresh ideas. We are also often able to build stronger relationships with clients due to (our) natural empathy, orientation to details and communication skills. Soft skills tend to be women’s domain,” she says.

“Second, there is an increasing demand for diversity in the workplace and many companies are actively seeking to hire more women in senior positions,” Sheila adds.

In addition, she adds that women in the property industry tend to be seen as non-threatening.

“This can be viewed negatively due to possible perception of being considered as lightweight, but once competence and professionalism are consistently shown and trust is built, this factor strengthens relationships with clients,” she says.

Breaking the glass ceiling

The female executive cited a Grant Thornton International’s Women in Business Report, which showed that the Philippines has consistently ranked high in terms of having the most number of women executives that occupy senior management roles across mid-sized  firms, ranking 1st in 2020 and 2021 and 3rd in 2022.

On the other hand, the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report, which measures how a particular country’s economy upholds equality between men and women, specifically in terms of economic participation, opportunity, education, health and exercise of political rights, ranked the Philippines 17th out 156 countries.

“These reports clearly show that the Philippines is one of the best countries in the world for women to do business  and excel,” Lobien says.

This means more opportunities for women to advance their careers and break through the glass ceiling through competence and professionalism.

“Alongside this good environment, however, businesswomen and women executives should further enhance their value by becoming even better at running businesses through competence and integrity; empowering other women through guidance and mentorship; and providing inspiration to the younger generation,” she adds, emphasizing that there is no glass ceiling for Filipinas in terms of succeeding and thriving in any industry in the Philippines.

Lobien is a staunch advocate of gender equality and women empowerment.

Prior to Lobien Realty Group, she was regional director and head of project leasing of a Fortune 500 property consulting firm. She was also a general manager of Regus Manila and was one of those who spearheaded Regus’ then-novel concept of shared and plug-and-play office space in the early 2000s.

A Bachelor of Science in Tourism degree from University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City, Lobien also took up Management Development Program at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM), Philippines, Master of Business Management, University of the Philippines in Manila, Management Executive Program at National University of Singapore and INSEAD Business School.

Goodbye, Maria Clara

Asked what it means to be a Filipina in today’s society, Lobien stresses that the Maria Clara concept of a Filipina is long gone.

“Today, Filipinas are viewed as very capable, competent and can go  toe to toe in the boardrooms. However, they are also still expected to be the loving, warm-hearted and caring wife, mothers, aunts and grandmas at home,” Lobien says.

“As a friend, Filipinas are also viewed as fun and the best soulmate one can ever have. Thus, we are viewed by society as someone who can easily wear so many  hats: as business leaders running our own firms; a friend who can enjoy life and night outs; and as wives or mothers ably running our families and taking care of our spouses and children. Every role, I thoroughly enjoy,” she adds.

In all, it’s a challenging, rewarding and exciting time to be a woman but Sheila celebrates it every day.

“I celebrate it (being a woman) every day by seeking success, happiness and fulfillment in every endeavor– whether as the CEO of Lobien Realty Group, wife to my husband, mother to my children, daughter to my parents and as a friend to a selected few, with fervent prayers for a long, healthy and happy life to enjoy the fruits of my labor,” Lobien says.