Hans Sy: ‘Focus. And you get results.’
(The Philippine Star) - November 29, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – If Hans Sy was all-smiles during the inauguration of SM Seaside City Cebu, it was because he received non-stop praise and congratulations for the job well done.

“Seeing good results makes me happy,” he says. “But nothing makes me happier than making our father happy.”

Henry Sy Sr., 91, who stayed behind in Manila during the opening, is surely proud of SM’s third mall in Cebu which is probably the most modern and most beautiful of all SM malls. The SM patriarch who is a hands-on worker with an eye for detail. For the past decades, he has been seen going around his malls, talking to tenants and checking on mall features.

Hans says the best lesson he learned from his father is this: “Focus. And always be organized.”

In this family of retailers, Hans is the engineer. As president of SM Prime Holdings, he is on top of shopping and operations, and he heads the engineering and constructing divisions within the SM Group. His son Chico, who finished civil engineering in Australia, is his equally tall and robust assistant in building. In fact, Hans himself is proud of how Chico conceived a child-friendly garden on the rooftop of SM Seaside City Cebu. “This is obviously inspired by Chico's child,” says the happy grandfather.

The mall not only has child-friendly features. Mainly it  has customer-friendly features designed for the ease and convenience of shoppers. “The mall has a circular design, but we have four separate nodes that make you remember where you started,” explains Hans. He is also proud of how  environmentally sustainable the mall is. “We have a rooftop garden system that collects all excess water from rain or overwatering and this cools down the structure, cuts down on electricity. We have a well-lit mall but without the heat as we use the Low-E glass that shuts off 70 percent of the heat.”

Are SM Malls built following feng shui rules? “We don’t really observe feng shui but we don’t purposely go against its rules,” explains Hans.” A lot of these are actually common sense.”

Hans gets his hands dirty and his feet wet in building malls, but gets his time out from work by also helping build athletes. He is chief benefactor of the National University basketball team which has reaped its share of awards. It was under his aegis that NU beat FEU after a 60-year drought in the UAAP.

He also has an eye for art, being one of the biggest collectors of the paintings of Juvenal Sanso. The Sansos and the Sys were neighbors in pre-war and post-war Manila. Sanso has many poignant stories about the neighborly goodness of  Henry Sy Sr. especially during turbulent times in Manila. The bonding between the two families remains to this day.

Perhaps not many people know it for he prefers not to magnify it, but Hans also helps build and rebuild lives by supporting the Childhaus project of Ricky Reyes that provides shelter and medical treatment  to poor children afflicted with cancer.

That's Hans Sy. Builder of malls, builder of lives.

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