One of the driving forces behind renowned real estate firm Century Properties Group Inc. is an epitome of style and substance, whose ideas are a mark of innate sophistication and class.

Robbie Antonio, the gamechanger behind the branded home collaborations of Century Properties, has since altered the way Filipinos view real estate developments and had helped fulfill their wildest imagination of having a piece of Versace, Trump and Missoni, right in the comfort of their homes.

In this rare chance, Antonio, who serves as managing director and head for International Brand Collaborations of the Century Properties, has given Inquirer readers the privilege to take a peek in his colorful life, as he shared how he gained interest and fulfillment in the world of property development.

Question: When and how did you get involved in the real estate business? Has it always been your dream to build houses? What was your childhood dream?

Antonio: Real estate development is not just something I inherited. It is something innate in me and the rest of my family—one that drives us from one project to the next. I have always been struck by the role buildings play in our daily lives.

Most people enter and exit structures as they put on clothes or eat—out of habit, or without thought for how it affects the greater scheme of things. Real estate has always been different for me—it was always alive and we have always worked to see how far we could take it further.

Q: What convinced you to venture into this kind of business and who influenced you to go into property development?

A: Our goal is to develop innovative but relevant projects that make a difference and have a lasting impact. I was fortunate to have been entrenched in New York. This has shaped the way I view buildings.

At Century Properties we see them [structures] as integrated parts that shape the way people strive for success, that inspire businesses for greatness, that define a country’s identity.

This opportunity to contribute to the industry, to the country, is the major driving force that convinced me to not only enter the business and stay in it, but to also change it.

Q: Who has the greatest influence in your life? Also, who would you consider as your mentor?

A: I have been fortunate to have had many individuals guide, inspire and mentor me not only in real estate, but also in the arts, business, fashion and design.

There are too many to mention, but what they have in common, aside from their spectacular successes, is their influence beyond their respective fields. This, they are able to do by combining their business savvy with a distinct personality that resonates beyond the industry they are in.

Q: What were the challenges you encountered in the real estate business? How did you overcome these?

A: Each project should be a challenge. From one of our first projects, The Centurion in New York, to our branded collaborations with Versace Home for Milano Residences, MissoniHome for Acqua Livingstone, to Trump Tower Manila—each one is a challenge that requires multifaceted solutions.

Overcoming challenges in real estate development is par for the course. How we succeed is by having a clear vision and having an even clearer blueprint in making it happen.

Q: What is the secret behind your success?

A: At Century we always ask, what’s next? For our company we ask what’s the next project? For a project, we ask, what’s the next phase? For a finished development, we ask, how can we make it better?

The work itself is the reward, and is worth more than the accolades and the prestige associated with being part of Century Properties.

Q: What do you think is your company’s greatest contribution to society, to the property industry in particular?

A:We want to change the Manila skyline one building at a time.

But more than the skyline, our goal is to make the country a second home, an investment hub and a playground for the rest of the world.

We do this by providing amenities that global citizens deserve and by showcasing the skill and business sense that investors demand, also by building developments that cater to every whim.

Q: What legacy would you want your developments to leave?

A: We want our developments to become more than landmarks in the city; we want them to become a testament to the skill, ingenuity and sophisticated taste that is fast becoming second nature to Filipinos.

Each building will be a showpiece to the world of what the country aspires to be and in the future, a symbol of what the country has become.

Each project we have right now is a dream project that is already changing the way people view residential living. From our masterplanned communities to our branded partnerships, we are pushing ever forward the perception on real estate: from shelters to reflections of a personality, from buildings to monuments of style, from individual structures into a seamless integration with a life.

Q: How are you as a boss?

As Century’s managing director, I am hands-on. I am involved in all facets of a project’s planning, marketing and development. I find that knowing the details is a singular part of refining, defining and ultimately meeting the vision for our individual projects. We are also collaborative, and I have found myself learning from the insights of the team as well.

Q: How do you spend your free time?

Regardless how busy I am with work, I always find time for sports and the arts. I engage in demanding pastimes—tennis, which I find cathartic, and collecting art, which I find thought provoking. Both equip and inspire me to work harder.

Q: If you were not a businessman, where do you think would you be?

A: Life is my business, and business is my life. In that sense, I would still be a businessman, regardless of what I am doing. If I had only free time, I would devote much of it visiting the world’s museums and collecting art pieces.

Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer | May 4, 2012