I HAVE always loved seeing strong ladies in the corporate world going out, grabbing the predominantly male world of business by the lapels and saying, “Watch out for me”.
For, despite the strides that the modern world has taken toward acknowledging the capacity of women to succeed in any aspect of society, feminism continues to be one of the most controversial, sensitive and talked-about topics around the world.
Whether it concerns its basic definition of “equality for all” or the shift from a patriarchal society to a matriarchal one, the conversation has noticeably seeped into the different industries here and abroad, as the world continues to adapt to the change in long-standing norms.
The country, historically speaking, is one that is clearly matriarchal in nature. Aside from having two female presidents in the past, many of the major contributors in the different sectors are women. In the arts, in politics and in business, Filipinas have been major players since time immemorial. That said, there is one industry that is particularly populated by strong women leaders—real estate.
While being a traditionally male-driven industry, real estate is now seeing several ladies acting as leaders in their respective companies. One such company is Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. or JLL.
JLL’s Sheila Lobien is a certified #GirlBoss
First off, JLL specializes in commercial real-estate services and investment management, and as one of the world’s leading financial and professional services firms, it only hires the best people—hence, Sheila Lobien, regional director for markets of JLL (Philippines) Inc.
While Sheila majored in Tourism in University of the Philippines Diliman, she knew right off the bat that her career would be in real estate. She started off by joining the marketing efforts of companies that were advertising resorts, soon she moved onto the high-end apartments market. After these endeavors, she joined the Philippine branch of Regus—a global workplace solutions provider—in 2004 and eventually became its general manager. This was particularly felicitous for it was during this time that she caught the eye of JLL.
“When JLL discovered me, that was the start of the bigger real-estate career for me,” Lobien said of her recruitment. Believing she had great growth potential given the right environment, JLL made her its regional director and head of Project Leasing Markets, one of the most important positions in the company.
“JLL is a global firm that’s present all over the world. Its presence is felt in all the key cities and I think that is what the real- estate market is all about,” she explained, when asked what convinced her to join the company.
And on the topic of being a woman in real estate, she had this to say: “I was very fortunate because I never felt that I was at a disadvantage for being a woman. Especially since JLL as a company strongly supports women, and that is why I’ve stayed there for the last 10 years.”
So, what is that je ne sais quoi Lobien brings to JLL? Well, it’s her drive for diversity and inclusion in the workplace, of course.
Encouraging diversity and inclusion in the workplace
In JLL a global initiative was launched called the “Diversity Inclusion Committee”. It was created to support women, LGBTQ+ and person with disabilities employees since the company found that there was a lack of support for these members in some companies.
Here in the Philippines, Lobien—who is the chair of the local committee—is at the forefront of this initiative. Although she said that, here in the Philippines, they do not feel the diversity issue as much as in other countries, she and the committee still believe these issues need attention. As such, the committee has been focusing on creating seminars and activities that can educate employees on this issue and other equally important ones that concern their coemployees.
“Our focus here is inclusion for everyone, not just women,” Lobien said of the committee. “We want them to feel valued by the company. That is why we’re holding these internal seminars and networking events.”
It is her passion and tenacity that has helped raise Lobien to the top ranks of rea-estate. Now, as she and her colleagues continue to help raise women in the country, we can rest assured that the real estate industry and its counterparts are in safe hands. Truly, it is an awe-inspiring reality, knowing that an industry that used to be such a boy’s club is now overflowing with strong, intelligent and independent women.