Tina Samson, Chief Operating Officer of Menarco Development Corporation, talks to The Ortus Club’s Roman Manuel about the role of the COO as the leader that drives results, spurs growth, and increases the overall efficiency of the corporation.
To watch Tina’s interview, you can subscribe to our Ortus Chats interview series on Youtube. You can also listen to the discussion on Spotify, or pour yourself a cup of coffee and read the full interview below.
Can you give us a one-sentence description of your company?
Menarco Development Corporation is a real estate development company that priorities people, the planet, and profit, in that order.
Can you describe the role of a Chief Operating Officer in one word? Why?
I think of myself as a musical conductor who directs a team of talented individuals with different skills. I look at each one’s capabilities and make sure they work together harmoniously, similar to an orchestra.
What current challenges are Chief Operating Officers facing right now? Can you identify a solution?
One of our current challenges is the implementation of remote work. Luckily, the Philippines has already allowed employees to return to the workplace. However, the work-from-home setup has created more challenges concerning the coordination of the different departments.
Another current challenge is the lower demand for a physical workplace because companies have set up work-from-home arrangements. We in real estate are now challenged to promote the need for them and prolong leases.
How do you explain the success you’ve had in your career?
I would credit it to my love for learning. I always love learning more about skills or things that I don’t have any knowledge of. I’m a lawyer by profession, and I didn’t have any business background when I decided to join the corporate field. I decided that I won’t limit myself to the law aspect of operating a company. I started just handling the legal department, and then I learned marketing, finance, and everything else, even the technical side of construction and operating a building. That allowed me to go up the corporate ladder to discuss and manage things from my perception right now.
“A person’s instincts are developed through the law. As a COO, you have to trust your instincts. You have to listen to other people, but it is your own analysis that will guide you through a decision.”
Can you tell us about a time you took a major risk in your career?
The fact that I let go of my primary role as a lawyer was a major risk because, for people to trust and really listen to me, they have to know that I understand what we’re discussing. Being a lawyer without any business background is difficult. I only learned from the information given to me or from observing other people, and I had to really put my foot down. I had to get people’s trust that my logic or knowledge was enough to carry on challenging sessions or difficult discussions with anyone.
How can you see your role evolving in the next two to three years?
My worldview regarding talent development is progressive because that’s what I’ve done in my entire career. Whether I’m working for myself or somebody else, my job position didn’t matter. It is about finding ways to help people figure themselves out, helping them understand where they’re going, and optimising their present situation in their current role in the industry they’re in and how they can improve their current situation.
My goal is to make sure that incentives are aligned. Do people understand their ‘whys’? I want to contribute to others what I’ve learned from my experience. So many of those experiences help me relate to just anybody from various backgrounds and industries. Moreover, it helps me formulate a good strategy for how to help somebody. It’s not always about suggesting a technique or tool to resolve their problems. Sometimes, it’s simply asking, “Hey. Tell me what’s going on.” Being an executive these days means being that shoulder they can cry on. You need to be like a dentist that pulls teeth. Be the plumber that connects pipes. Make sure that you connect people, ideas, and industries because you are that advocate-in-chief for everybody that works with you. You have to be their coach and motivator.
A significant emphasis on leadership is not someone who says praises and complements in small bursts like “Good job!” or “You’re doing great!” Instead, be true to them by offering them true praises where you connect with them and support them in their endeavours. At the same time, you still have to run a business, make sure that the product-market fits, and explain how working together is a two-way street. They benefit from your company, and you benefit from them too.
What business trends are you taking advantage of right now?
Because of the pandemic, many industries have relied on IT. As a result, we are looking to go beyond the standard AR/VR setup and possibly take advantage of the metaverse to promote our developments.
What career advice would you like to share with Chief Operating Officers?
I’ve heard before that a person’s instinct is developed through their choices. As a COO, you have to learn to trust yourself and your instincts. Listen to other people, but form your own analysis of what they say. Your instincts will guide you to make a decision. Trust in yourself. You would not have gone through all the ups and downs of your career and ended up in your position unless you are genuinely capable. Just trust in your instincts.