Outstanding leader at Empire’s helm

It was a well deserved recognition.  A man highly regarded for his discipline, strong resolve and knowledge of the Philippine real estate industry, Atty. Charlemagne Yu was named an Outstanding Leader in Asia during the 6th Asia Corporate Excellence and Sustainability (ACES) Awards held in Bangkok this month. This latest award recognized Yu’s innovative efforts in steering the company to higher ground even during tough economic times.

In this year’s edition, Yu was also reportedly the only Filipino from the real estate industry to receive this prestigious recognition.

“Almost all real estate developers were significantly affected by the Asian financial crisis which happened about two decades ago. Empire East, instead of waiting for the crisis to subside, introduced innovative developments and strategies which were affordable and within the market’s capacity to buy. With a socially conscious leader like Yu leading the charge, success was almost guaranteed,” said Shanggari Balakrishnan, chief executive officer of MORS Group.

“We could rake in all the profit we want. But the more significant success at the end of each day is seen through the number of families that a business has helped. I believe that we exist in the world for a reason, and that is to help,” said Yu, president and CEO of Empire East.

Rigorous assessment

Organized by the MORS Group, the ACES Awards recognizes successful companies and individuals in Asia in two main domains: leadership and corporate social responsibility. The awards recognize the achievements of businesses, local and international, for their esteemed contributions to their respective communities and the world. Through ACES, companies and its leaders share a platform to take pride of their excellence, to learn, to build connections, and exchange new ideas while showcasing Asia’s best practices for sustainable growth.

Yu was among the leaders selected and asked by the MORS Group to provide an account of the company’s growth journey since he was appointed to his post. Among the factors that were considered during this rigorous assessment were the company’s financial performance, brand value and milestones, service excellence, supply chain and stakeholder management, talent management and future direction. Also included were their leadership skills from key challenges, and goal-setting, among others.

It’s thus not surprising that Yu received this prestigious recognition.

Unfazed by the challenges of the highly dynamic Philippine real estate, Yu made a number of risky, unconventional and extremely bold moves that propelled Empire East to success. It also allowed him to showcase his prowess as a resilient leader who would not falter despite the odds.

Empire East continues to change lives both within and outside their developments.

Emerging unscathed

It can be recalled that Empire East was among the few real estate companies that emerged unscathed during one of the most turbulent times in the region’s economic history. At the height of the Asian financial crisis in the late ’90s, Yu decided to offer new financing terms—including a no-downpayment scheme, which was reportedly a first in the industry back then—to lure back buyers and investors during such a challenging period.

Yu earlier shared that those were very difficult years. Nobody was launching new projects and he felt then the need to reinvent the company and bring back the market by ensuring that their buyers can afford their offerings. Based on their studies, the market could only afford to invest in real estate if there was no requirement for a downpayment and if the monthly amortization would start at around P8,000. At that time, most property developers required a downpayment equivalent to 30 percent of the unit’s cost, while the remaining 70 percent shall be amortized with the balance settled upon turnover.

It was a risk that more than paid off. Not only was Empire East able to pull off such a precarious proposition at that time, it was also able to position itself as a trusted, reliable developer. In fact, at the height of the financial crisis, Empire East reportedly completed the most number of towers, according to Yu.

Today, Empire East remains a formidable player with new towers set to be launched over the next several years. Its newest project would have the company building a total of 38 towers within the 24-hectare Empire East Highland City, located along Felix Ave. in Cainta, Rizal.

Originally published in Inquirer.net (Sept 28, 2019)

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About ACES Awards

The Asia Corporate Excellence & Sustainability Awards (ACES) is one of the most prestigious accolades that recognises inspiring leaders and sustainability advocates cross-industry and across Asia. 

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