Inspired by father’s success, Tan charts his own path
He was definitely cut out for the job.
A self-confessed mall rat, Kevin Andrew L. Tan has long familiarized himself with the ins and outs of the division he is currently heading. After all, he used to spend a lot of time in the malls, either shopping or dining out with friends and family. It was as if the malls served as his “comfort zone.”
And it must have done him well to do so, as this seemed to have served as a preview to what he would end up doing.
Today, Tan serves as SVP and head of Megaworld Lifestyle Malls, a job that put him in charge of the company’s entire mall business. This meant he was in charge of planning, development, marketing, operations, and leasing of the Megaworld Lifestyle Malls.
Starting in sales
Tan disclosed however that the first job he took on in the family business was different from what he is currently heading.
“I only joined the family business 15 years ago, but my role then was very much different from my role today. I did not assume this position overnight. I actually started as a salesman, pushing for condominiums where like other regular sellers, I have a quota to meet and where I report to a sales director,” Tan said in an exclusive interview with Inquirer Property.
Growing up, Tan recalled of having to take on various roles in the company and undergo trainings like everyone else. His father, the visionary businessman Andrew L. Tan, believed that positions and titles were supposed to be earned and not just given.
“My father believes that such positions are not supposed to be just given away—that it’s not a birth right rather it is something that must be earned. He would always say that one has to have ambitions and big plans and a vision as well. And during that time, I was more interested in sales. In fact, those people you see in the malls giving out flyers, I used to be one of them,” Tan shared.
Just like a regular employee who rose from the ranks, Tan had to work hard and prove himself before he got to where he is now—the head Megaworld’s Lifestyle Malls.
“I had to learn everything, I had to understand how to sell, I had to understand marketing. That’s how I started 15 years ago. I was 22 when I formally joined our company,” he said.
Choosing own path
Unlike other families who would usually want their children to immerse themselves in the business at an early age, the older Tan reportedly did things differently.
According to the younger Tan, they were not forced or compelled to immerse themselves in the business. They were rather allowed to choose their own paths—a belief that his father continues to uphold up to this day.
“Of course, we were made to understand the business, which was then just starting. Growing up, I remember tagging along with my mother and doing menial tasks such as filing records during the summer break. It was nothing serious then, because we were encouraged to focus a lot more on school and our studies,” Tan shared.
Tan was 10 years old when the company was established, which is why at that time, he didn’t pay much attention. Just like any regular child, he was rather preoccupied by things that were more for his age.
It didn’t take long for Tan to understand and appreciate the huge empire that his father had built—something that they had only hoped to happen but did not really expect.
“We were given options to work outside of Megaworld but somehow, my father knew how to motivate us which eventually encouraged us to work for the family business. And in my case, I was assigned in sales, which I think I have a natural knack and then marketing which I also loved doing because I really enjoy talking to people and present things. So it was very natural for me when I started ou,” Tan explained.
“But what’s really good about my father is that he never forced us to do anything even until now. We are free to do whatever we want, we are always given the choice,” he said.
This, according to Tan, was what made all the difference— growing up in a household where you have the freedom to decide and choose your own path was something that he and his siblings welcomed.
His father allowed them to commit mistakes and learn on their own—nothing was forced on them. If anything, they were often encouraged to freely express their thoughts and ideas.
Charting own course
Thus, when the opportunity came, the younger Tan decided to bring up to his father the idea of starting a mall business and making the office spaces that they developed a part of their recurring income portfolio.
The mall component was actually the brainchild of Tan, who persuaded his father to also create lifestyle and entertainment complexes within their township developments.
“In one of our talks, I mentioned to my father the idea of incorporating malls in our developments. But then, his forte was residential so he told me to take care of this aspect of our business if I really feel that it’s right and if I feel that I really wanted to do it. It was also in this instance that we agreed to make our office developments a part of our recurring portfolio,” Tan explained.
And it was a bet that paid off well as the Megaworld Lifestyle malls and offices are now significant contributors the company’s bottomline. The company’s various lifestyle malls, famous for their unique propositions and themed designs, have likewise allowed the company to tap a certain niche of the market.
“So that joke of my dad that ëI always love to go to the mall that’s why I’m the one who perfectly fits for the job’ was somehow true. My father would always tell me that I’m the best person to oversee the mall business because of how much I love to shop and how I am always out of the house shopping,” he added.
Tan admitted that it was not easy to go head on with the other more established mall operators. But he said that he was more than just happy that Megaworld Lifestyle Malls managed to break into the market and gain the nod and approval of the people.
Today, Tan can’t help but be amazed at how his father managed to transform the company to what it is today.
Megaworld is now considered as one of the country’s biggest and most trusted property developers with 21 township developments across the country. Megaworld is also highly regarded for pioneering the live-work-play concept, which gave homebuyers and investors a new perspective in a life lived in perfect balance.
“You see, we started in the liquor industry and how we made that grow was just overwhelming. And when we went into real estate development, we were like the new kids on the block then. But with my father’s vision and passion, he managed to steer the company to where it is now a huge market player,” Tan said.
While Megaworld used to just build and sell residential and office spaces, it eventually grew to include the creation of township developments— aimed at providing residents and investors a more convenient lifestyle, in which everything that you need is practically within reach.
“With more than 10,000 employees now working for us, my father would constantly remind me that what we are doing is not just for our family but for the family of these 10,000 strong employees who rely on us. This my father would always remind us should be our top most priority, to help our people and to take care of them,” Tan further noted.
Tan only has high respects for his father whom he considers as his mentor—and not just an ordinary mentor, but an excellent one.
“My father’s humility is one strength, or I must say an admirable trait, that I would want to have. His compassion and willingness to help the society and even the people who work for our company are something that I consider very important for all of us to follow and adopt,” he further said.
Currently, Tan has his hands full as he is looking forward to building new retail areas in the two latest townships being developed by Megaworld. One would be located at the Southwoods where the company is set to open its Southwoods Mall. Megaworld is also set to open its first “real” provincial mall, which is the Iloilo Festive Walk Mall.
“These are two exciting projects that we’re rolling out next year and we are quite excited about it. These two malls are going to be very different from what you usually see here in Manila. The one in Southwoods would have three levels with a huge garden area, a lot of dining establishments, international retail shops, and four cinemas,” Tan explained.
“The one in Iloilo would be very Ilonggo in feel in the sense that it’s very festive. We used the Dinagyang as the theme. We also have the Festive Walk promenade where rows of restaurants and bars will be located to rejuvenate the night life in Iloilo City. We are bringing our unique concept of dining and shopping to the different parts of the country and more can be expected as there are now various plans in the pipeline,” Tan concluded.
PRC REBL #23350