Miguel Tan is the CEO of Philippines-based cladding business, Fasclad. He took some time out of his schedule to talk to The Industry Leaders about how his company's work fills him with pride, and why data is the future of smart management.
How did you end up sitting where you are today?
The business has been built over time by my family, particularly my father. We have been in the cladding business for more than 20 years.
I transitioned into the CEO position in 2018 after I graduated and was working in the business while I was finishing my business management studies. Thankfully I have led the company through steady year-on-year growth and my performance has earned me this position with trust and confidence from the Board.
What kind of work does your role involve?
Leading the day to day management of the business has taught me many things and I have to wear different hats throughout the day. My day particularly starts by making sure all our jobs sites and customer deadlines are met in a timely manner.
Throughout the day my diary is filled with meetings with clients and corporate developers on discussing the possibility of us being the façade contractor of their high rise developments. I sometimes also have some days blocked with my finance team to take an overview of the cash-flow and budget.
What gets you excited about your industry?
The Philippines is a country filled with so much potential and we are experiencing an upward surge in developments, especially when it comes to Government and private partnerships in the “Build Build Build” program.
This year, onward to the next decade, will be a great transition for our business and the country as a whole. Being a façade contractor is exciting particularly cause we construct the glass façade of a building; this fills us with pride and gratitude since we are contributing to making the Philippines a 'First World' country'.
What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?
Baptism by Fire. Start fast and learn the difficult curves ahead.
The importance of starting immediately in an environment of solving difficult problems. Through those instances, I learned to work hard while working smart. My parents have taught me that life in business will never get easier but once you are able to solve the problem, it will always be rewarding.
What, or who inspires you?
Being in the field of construction, we have always been inspired to build beautiful and sustainable buildings. I love my job since the glass façades of buildings make up the overall look and aesthetics of the building.
It gives us pride and joy to know that every building we clad with our façade system is done in the knowledge that we are contributing to the success and forward movement of our country. Our motto and vision at Fasclad is: “Building Façade Excellence toward a First world Philippines”.
How do you keep up to speed with what's happening in the industry?
The Philippines has a rich history of colonial influence, we have old cities still having old remnants of the past with buildings more than 50 years old. I simply look at the newer cities or the master plans in its early stages to see how our business can innovate further to meet the demands of the clients.
I normally keep up to date by catching up with the leading architect firms that we propose several façade systems to, so they can be incorporated on their future projects. We always like to challenge ourselves by working with the architect and client to fulfil the aesthetic they desire.
What was the most challenging project or assignment you've worked on?
We normally get new problems everyday especially in our industry where almost everything has to be precise. For instance, we have 10 tower projects going on at the same time!
What's most difficult is that our supply chain is quite complex with suppliers from local and several countries abroad so it is a logistical challenge to order and ensure that they arrive in a timely manner for us to fabricate, deliver on-site and install onto the building. We have invested heavily on technical personnel and systems to ensure we consolidate everything and the needed inputs are sent to us on time.
If you could start your life again, what would you do differently?
Well, it's hard for me to say I am still quite new in the industry. But, most definitely, I would want to learn from the earlier mistakes I have made. Mostly in terms of cutting costs and efficiency in the right way.
I thought the traditional means can suffice but overtime I realized that the future is data and now that we run several projects at the same time, data is what we rely on for us to make better decisions in a short amount of time.
You finish work today and step outside the office to find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?
I would go on vacation!
The construction industry runs virtually 24/7 and is most of the time a thankless job but nevertheless, it's the passion that drives me. Of course, I would also buy myself more artworks (my love for art will consume me).
But of course, I would also want to expand my facility further and increase our capacity to serve more projects.
How do you switch off after a day at work?
I normally get up very early 5 am so I always make it a point to hit the gym to clear my mind and to prepare myself for the challenges throughout the day. I also enjoy reading before bed with a glass of Scotch.
If you had one wish for the future of your industry, what would it be?
Steady and continued innovation. I am a firm believer that there is so much room to improve in terms of building materials, and right now we are at the forefront of introducing solar-powered glass façades to high rise buildings. The Philippines is a tropical country and if we can, we should harness and take advantage of the power of the sun.