AboitizLand’s David Rafael: Leading the way to greater heights

Property Report talks to real estate veteran David Rafael, AboitizLand president and CEO, on what it means to be a property developer in these changing times.

Property Report: For AboitizLand, what does it mean to be a forward-thinking developer?

David Rafael: To be a forward-thinking developer in the dynamic real estate industry of the Philippines, several key elements come into play. 

It begins with the people comprising your team. It’s imperative to have individuals with the right blend of talent, skills, experience, and values, all aligned with the overarching vision of the company. This alignment ensures a cohesive and focused effort toward driving innovation and progress.

David Rafael, AboitizLand president and CEO

Fostering a forward-thinking culture within the organization is likewise crucial. As the Aboitiz Group aims to transform into a techglomerate, it signifies a shift toward a startup-inspired mindset within a legacy conglomerate. 

This evolution demonstrates an openness to leveraging technology and embracing a startup culture to revolutionize operations.

At AboitizLand, we prioritize the right team, a progressive culture, and adaptability.

Could you provide examples of successful projects or developments where AboitizLand’s innovative approach has had a significant impact on the residents and the community?

AboitizLand’s Seafront Residences exemplifies the company’s innovative approach to residential development, positively impacting both the community and its residents. 

Located in San Juan, Batangas, this 47-hectare project has received notable recognition for its quality and design. In 2023, Seafront Residences earned accolades including Best Premium House in Luzon at Lamudi’s The Outlook awards, along with Best Waterfront Housing Development and Best Housing Development (Philippines) from PropertyGuru’s Philippine Property Awards.

Seafront Residences is a master-planned beach community in San Juan, Batangas designed with generous amenities in the form of diamond parks in front of Budji+Royal houses, beachfront clubhouse, a town center and beachfront access.

Seafront’s distinctive house design by Budji+Royal, known for its work on large-scale developments, brings a unique touch to the residences. 

The masterplan emphasizes open spaces and diamond parks, promoting a peaceful living environment and an active lifestyle. The use of precast panels in construction carries ecological benefits, such as reduced carbon footprint and faster project delivery. 

How does AboitizLand collaborate with stakeholders to drive innovation and enhance its offerings in the real estate market?

AboitizLand’s partnerships play a pivotal role in propelling the company toward cutting-edge solutions and market-leading advancements. 

One notable instance is the Elevate AIDA initiative, conducted in collaboration with Connected Women. This program focuses on providing crucial digital skills training to women in proximity to AboitizLand communities in Luzon. Beyond skill-building, it also aims to foster gender parity and stimulate socio-economic development in these areas.

Why does AboitizLand allocate significant investments not only in innovative technology but also in its people?

AboitizLand places a high premium on investing substantially in both innovative technology and its people. This dual focus is integral to our vision of being a forward-thinking developer.

Cutting-edge technology undoubtedly drives innovation and propels us to the forefront of the real estate realm. However, it is equally crucial to recognize that none of these advancements would be possible without a dedicated and skilled workforce.

By allocating significant resources to our team members, we provide them with the tools, resources, and opportunities for growth and development. This encompasses not only technological proficiency but also the knowledge and expertise to utilize it effectively.

This inclusive approach fosters a culture of continuous learning and empowerment, ensuring that everyone involved is equipped to contribute to our collective success. This dual investment in technology and our people, along with collaborative efforts with our vecinos and partners, forms a powerful synergy.

It empowers AboitizLand not only to lead the way in our industry but also to deliver exceptional value to our customers and stakeholders alike.

Could you share insights or lessons you’ve gained from AboitizLand team members?

As a Boomer managing a team that encompasses a range of generations, including Xers, Millennials, and Gen Zs, I’ve gained invaluable insights into the evolving dynamics of the workplace. It’s evident that each generation brings with them unique ideas, philosophies, and values about life and work. 

For instance, as a Boomer, I grew up valuing company loyalty, equating it with a sense of familial attachment to one’s workplace. However, I’ve come to realize that this sentiment isn’t as prevalent among the younger generations.

The concept of work-life balance has also shifted significantly; now, there seems to be an expectation of unwavering dedication to the job, with less emphasis on personal time. It’s become increasingly apparent to me that mental health is a crucial aspect of a thriving work environment, a consideration that wasn’t as prominent in earlier times.

Effectively managing such a diverse workforce requires a willingness to collaborate and an openness to different perspectives. This is especially evident in discussions around practices like remote work, where opinions can vary widely. I’ve learned that insisting on a single approach doesn’t always yield the best results.