Rockwell Land Corporation assistant vice president for Mall Operations, seems to be working with eight arms ever since mall expansion went into full swing early this year. Simultaneously, he is overseeing the construction of the 250-room hotel physically linked to the expanded mall.Lucky Jay Damaso,
Building construction is nothing new to the electrical engineer, who was part of the construction management and project development team for Rockwell Land Corporation’s Joya Lofts and Towers and One Rockwell. But he is just getting introduced to the hotel business.
First for Rockwell Land
“It’s a whole new challenge: getting to know all about hotels and hotel operations. This is a first for Rockwell Land. Mr. Padilla (Rockwell Land president Nestor Padilla) has chosen the consultants for the interior design: Guillermo (Butch) Valdez Design for the main lobbies and amenity areas and HBA (Hirsch Bedner Associates) for the hotel rooms and its hallways. We are targeting a five star-plus finish. We are looking for something that will be unique to our hotel,” says Damaso.
Padilla has required Damaso and his team to learn firsthand what clients look for—everything from service, to amenities, to the right size of beds for the kind of hotel that their target market demands.
“I am learning something new every day,” Damaso says.
He currently has a staff of 12, mostly architects and engineers, on the construction project team. And with all that’s happening on the site, he has to rely on the retail operations staff to keep Power Plant Mall running in tip-top condition, especially with #ChristmasAtRockwell festivities going into full gear.
Damaso considers it a blessing that the level of trust and confidence is high be tween him and his teammates.
“I am open to suggestions. I respect the people who work with me. Our trust and respect for one another is mutual. Whenever there are problems, I generally stay calm so the team can get its act together, find out who to ask for help. I know what’s happening, what decisions need to be made and because of the good work the retail operations staff members are doing, I can concentrate on the requirements of the hotel and mall expansion.”
He has shown a lot of street smarts and determination to finish projects, very much like when he was in school in Mapua Institute of Technology.
“I know that if you want to finish something, you have to put your heads together, determine the requirements and just do it. The team also has to be flexible. Sometimes, we have to stay late to install some things that can only be done when the mall is closed. There are so many challenges along the way that stump you, but you have to find a way to work around so the project can move forward,” he says.
Some of his more challenging work has entailed managing the noise from the construction, ensuring that digging and chipping walls will not disturb cinemagoers or residents. This aspect of noise cannot be totally eliminated, but with proper notice and sticking to a proper work schedule, many inconveniences have been avoided.
Importance of integrity
Integrity is so important for him because “it covers a lot” of other values.
“Integrity includes respect for others. If you believe in people, they will believe in you, too. The trust you give goes back to you and you end up with a very supportive team, who will want you to reach your goals, which they make as their own goals, too.”
Added to this integrity imperative is the business of the mall beand construction of the hotel, where procurement always brings up temptation.
“I am tasked to spend, but there are limits. I tell our suppliers and contractors, this is not my money.”
Outside of work, Damaso stays grounded by visiting family in Nueva Ecija, including his grandparents, so he always remembers whence he came. He believes he is still the same lad who grew up on sardines, eggplant and smoked fish—which remain his favorite fare today.
“I am fine with sardines, eggplant, etc. Everything else is a blessing on top of this.”
His nationalist streak comes out when he remembers his friends who have all sought greener pastures abroad. He had his opportunity to leave but “mas mahal ko ang Pilipinas” (I love the Philippines more).
His message to LopezLink readers: “Keep believing that we are in the right direction of doing something great for the country and for the people we are serving. The Lopez Group’s emphasis is to make the country better, help make the life of the Filipino people better in our own small way — whatever it is that we do. We just have to believe and work for it.”