By Mark Louis F. Ferrolino, Special Features Writer
In the local business scene, the name Elizabeth T. Sy, together with her other five siblings, is often associated with their late father Henry T. Sy, Sr. Over the years, however, Ms. Sy has proven that she is more than just an heir of the well-loved SM founder. She has carved her own path to success with her burning passion and an enterprising vision.
From being an assistant at her father’s first hotel business, the Manila Royal Hotel in Quiapo, Manila, Ms. Sy now sits at the helm of SM Hotels and Conventions Corp. (SMHCC), the hotel and convention arm of the SM Group.
Under Ms. Sy’s leadership, SMHCC has grown tremendously with a combined inventory of 1,960 rooms and over 38,000 square meters of leasable convention space. From only two hotels and one convention center since its inception in 2008, the SMHCC has now a total of eight hotels and five convention centers, spread across the archipelago.
The list of hotels in its portfolio include the 261-room Taal Vista Hotel, a heritage hotel located in Tagaytay City; the 400-room upper upscale Radisson Blu Hotel in Cebu; the 154-room Pico Sands Hotel in Hamilo Coast; the 204-room Park Inn by Radisson in Davao; the 155-room Park Inn by Radisson in Clark in Pampanga; the 200-room Park Inn by Radisson in Iloilo; the 238-room Park Inn by Radisson in North EDSA; and the 348-guestroom deluxe 5-star hotel Conrad Manila in the Mall of Asia Complex.
The SMHCC has also set the bar in upscale convention facilities with its SMX Convention Centers and trade halls located in Manila, Davao, Taguig, Bacolod and Olongapo. These facilities are ideal for large-scale institutional events, town hall meetings, weddings, exhibits, and concerts.
As the chairperson and president of SMHCC, Ms. Sy adopts an empathetic approach in leadership. She lends a listening ear, an open mind, and a wide understanding toward her subordinates, guiding them to realize their purpose and value in the workplace while inspiring them to be better.
Ms. Sy’s intent as the head of his team is clear — unite and not divide, find remedies and not faults, and influence one another in a positive way. With such kind of leadership, Ms. Sy’s subordinates remain empowered and continuously contribute to the success of SMHCC as a whole.
By helping shape the country’s tourism and hospitality industry, it is not surprising that Ms. Sy, along with the properties under SMHCC, has been recognized repeatedly by different institutions and award-giving bodies.
Last August, Ms. Sy received the SKAL International Tourism Personality Award for the Hotel Category. SKAL is a professional organization composed of tourism leaders around the world whose aim is to promote global tourism and camaraderie. The awards are given to individuals who unselfishly offered their services to further promote and develop the tourism industry.
The Conrad Manila, on the other hand, was awarded the Hotel Suite Asia Pacific 2019 winner at the International Hotel and Property Awards for its majestic Presidential Suite. This recent accolade is only one of the many affirmations to SMHCC’s unquestionable integrity, foresight, and quest for success.
In fact, Ms. Sy meticulously scrutinized every detail of this Presidential Suite that turned into such masterpiece. She, in particular, ensured that only the best team would be behind the development of the stately suite, especially its designer who was interior architect Michael Fiebrich.
As an avid art enthusiast, Ms. Sy also commissioned no less than former Cultural Center of the Philippines President Nestor Jardin to curate art pieces, including the works of Filipino artists Sam Penaso, Nestor Vinluan, Jonathan Olazo, and Alain Hablo. The presence of this tasteful collection exudes Filipino luxury at its finest.
Meanwhile, aside from being the pillar behind SMHCC’s robust growth, Ms. Sy is also instrumental to the development of other institutions. She is a member of the Executive Committee and Trust Committee of the Board of Directors of BDO Private Bank, Inc.; the chairman of Nazareth School of National University; and advisor to the board of SM Investments Corporation. Moreover, she is an active board of trustee of the World Wildlife Fund, and the designated Honorary Consul General of Iceland in the Philippines.
In the next five years, the SMHCC, under Ms. Sy’s leadership, aims to double its portfolio across the country by building and operating hotels and convention centers that take pride in Filipino warmth and hospitality.