March 27, 2017, 8:38 pm
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Paying it forward for future project managers

When the term project management in construction has not been even heard of, Salvador Castro Sr. was one of those already offering  this specialized service  in the country back in the day.

Nowadays, project managers  have become almost indispensable in massive construction projects. But  only a  handful of local players can have the bragging rights of being the pioneer.

One  such prime mover is Castro’s son Salvador Jr., chairman of SPCastro, Inc., a 30-year old company providing a wide range of project management and consultancy services. Project managers like SPCastro provide end-to-end solutions to building owners in handling projects – from acquisition to hiring  contractors to cost and schedule management.

Salvador Jr. considers his “old man” his first mentor in project management. While  a reluctant successor, he trained under the watchful eye of his father before venturing out on his own, doing mostly  small housing projects. Even then, the younger Castro was applying the principles  he learned from his father: controlling cost, ensuring quality, and timely delivery.

Castro got his first break in managing big  projects in the 1970s when he was taken under the  wings of Enrique Zobel of Ayala Corp. He originally set out to train for two years in preparation for a stint in the then planned Makati Development Corp.
Until an opportunity for an overseas project came. Ayala International sent Castro to co-lead with international firm Bechtel Corp. a project to build the biggest palace in the world, the Istana Nurul Iman of the Sultan Negara Brunei Darussalam.

The formula Castro learned from his father, he merely expanded in Ayala on a much bigger scale.

While abroad, Castro realized he still had lot more to learn. One of his humongous tasks was to handle  5,000 workers of various nationalities. Castro knew Zobel trusted him so much he could not afford to bungle.

By the time he was in his 40s, he retired from Ayala and went back home.

Castro, with the help of his farther set up SPCastro and Associates in 1986. Expectations were quite different from reality because his company was not getting any work. At that time, Filipinos preferred foreigners as project consultants.

Castro then packed his bags and went  back to Brunei and registered his company SPCastro and Associates  initially doing audit for  land development  projects of the Brunei government.

There,Castro got another break when his company was appointed the project manager for the Brunei Convention Center.

A lot of showcase projects came one after the other including the  Royal Regalia (The Sultan’s Museum), Royal Pavilion (The Sultan’s Hangar), Masjid Jame”Asr Hassanil Bolkiah (Sultan’s Mosque), Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, Bolkiah Housing A” and “B.

But Castro again found the  opportunity to go back home to handle the project management of Marco Polo Davao 

“On the financial side nothing compares to overseas (projects) but when it comes to technology a lot can still be introduced here in the Philippines,” Castro  said.

It was  during this time when  Castro started doing what he  describes as “payback”. He would hire fresh graduates, train them and teach them the values of integrity in one’s  job, virtues he learned from both his  father and Zobel. He would also share to his recruits his experiences in Ayala and in Brunei.

Today, Castro is on his  second payback ,  the institutionalization of a  training unit in his small company.

“Our professionals  are still lacking in so many ways. I teach them to value their work especially when I see the potential of a worker,”  Castro  said.

Castro’s  second homecoming  was a lot more encouraging than the first. He stumbled upon a niche in  project management:  hospitals.

He was fortunate to have been given the opportunity to train in Stanford University Medical Center on how to  run a hospital. Back home, he applied what he learned  I n  managing the construction of Asian Hospital, St. Luke’s Medical Center Global City, The Medical Center in Muntinlupa  and The Medical City in Pasig.

Today, healthcare is one of the divisions of SPCastro . The others include institutions like schools and special projects.

SPCastro is currently handling six projects including a hospital under  Phinma, the MCU Hospital and St. Luke’s Medical Center Quezon City expansion

One of the institutions SPCastro worked with is  Ateneo.de Manila Universty.  Special projects include the restoration of the Manila Cathedral prior to the visit of Pope  Francis in 2015 and of Insular Life.

As he prepares for retirement, Castro had established these divisions each to be led by a  team  within his 80-man company.

Today, Castro spends most of his time to his advocacy: educating the players in the construction industry of the how to avoid, or settle, disputes involving contracts.

Castro advocates dispute avoidance and the use of various modes of resolving construction disputes.
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