Ines W. Tambunting is the Exceptional Woman 2024 for Women's Month

Ines W. Tambunting is our Exceptional Woman 2024.

On Ines W. Tambunting

As part of the #InspireInclusion movement for IWM 2024, Knight Frank Global shines its spotlight on extraordinary women who not only embody inspiration but also radiate it within the organization. Among the standout nominees is Ines W. Tambunting of Santos Knight Frank—a headstrong, courageous, but jocular individual who plans to carve out her own path.   

“Evolution is part of human nature, of man,” says Ines, originally part of Santos Knight Frank’s Occupier Services & Solutions, now a Manager from the Investment & Capital Markets team who frequently handles big deals and negotiates difficult terms. Fast forward to six years, and she’s at the helm, steering her team and negotiating contracts with high-value deals. 

Today, she attributes her success to a lineage of women she affectionately dubs her “genetically-related to” exceptional women. Between family life, friendships, and career, Ines aims to make a positive dent—a legacy like a piece of investment that’ll last. 

Read her interview below: 


Can you tell us about a woman who has inspired you personally or professionally and why? 

I love my friends, my colleagues, the people that I’ve met throughout my life. I love my sister, Rocio Tambunting, who birthed a creative project—a jewelry brand Rare by Rocio—during a pandemic. She’s my confidant who’s loving, sweet, and intelligent. However, I’m going to use my ‘Top 3 genetically related to me’ material—my 2 grandmothers and my mother.  

First, Josefina Arnaiz-Tambunting, my grandmother from my father’s side, took no opinions from anyone. She is a strong personality of a woman, who basically said, “I’m just going to do it if I want to do it”. She wasn’t afraid to speak if she wanted to be heard. Yes, she lived a very normal life—with her husband dying later in her life and had a family. Still, she was a strong personality of a woman. That’s why I respect her, and maybe somewhat emulate that fierceness.  

Penultimately, Isabel Caro-Wilson, my maternal grandmother defied societal norms, leaving her father’s house at an early age to work in the Manila Hotel during a time when women rarely did so. Rising to become one of Ayala’s first female executives, she declined a chance to manage Davao properties to prioritize marriage.  

After her husband’s death, she engaged in charitable efforts and played a pivotal role in clean elections during President Marcos Sr.’s impeachment through NAMFREL. Later becoming the Philippine Ambassador to Spain, she acquired a property to be converted to the current embassy. A relentless career woman, she became the first female president of Manila Polo Club and held that position twice. In her 70s, she became the President of the Cultural Center of the Philippines. 

She’s somebody who always had something to do. She could write a book about it. She’s driven in her 80’s (which took much dissuading from us all). At 93, she is still the same person that she was before. [She] always stuck to her gut, worked hard, and held all these different positions—during a time when someone in her position didn’t have to do that.  

Last but the best, Claudia Wilson-Tambunting, my mother, lost her father at 16 but persevered to finish school and worked hard in her own business, BISMAC.  

When she started working, I saw her grit. She had to balance having 4 children, being a wife, managing a household, working as a board member for multiple charities and our barangay, and being a full-time CEO of her company.  

All this, and yet she never made us feel like she wasn’t there for us. She showed up in school when needed, helped us run our school activities, and tutored us on our assignments. She’s also very well respected by her friends.  

These women have been there, even before I became an idea. They have lived their lives—to their own rules, and their own beat, and are very successful with what they’ve done. 


What do you consider your most significant achievement as a woman in your field, and how did you overcome any challenges? 

2020, the market was in dreadful condition. It was a black swan event—no matter where you came from.  

In the years after that, I bloomed in my career. I started learning different skill sets and exploring ways of selling, including insights on sealed bidding and ways to encourage clients to compete against one another in terms of asking for a higher bidding price. I learned about proper negotiated sale tactics, and adding deadlines to certain things.  

Every year since then, I have been able to hit certain quotas. Not to pat myself on the back but to speak on the fact that, wow, I did that, and I did that with my team. But when you win with your team, when you win with your friends, when everybody is successful around you, and when you’re wishing success upon everyone that you’re with—the achievement is greater.  


How do you advocate for gender equality and inclusion in your role or industry, and what advice would you give to other women looking to do the same? 

I’m the type of person who wants to include women in the accounts that I work on. I like to make sure the teams are even.   

Honestly, my country, the Philippines, isn’t that bad in terms of gender equality. We have a lot of respect for our women. Our industry, I would have to say, doesn’t need major advocacy because of this. Maybe because culturally, we don’t have gendered pronouns. We use ‘siya’ instead of he/she. Prior to colonization, our datus (leaders) were both women and men. Maybe that’s why we view the world and humanity in a different way.  

Real estate is open to many genders, even the LGBTQIA+ community. People don’t need to be as physically involved in this, compared to other industries. It’s not a test of strength, but more on the connections with the client—how to be a person in front of them. It’s not gender-focused, but inclusive and welcoming to everybody who wants to join in.  


How do you envision the future of gender diversity in your industry, and what steps do you believe should be taken to achieve greater equality and inclusion? 

We are at a time when we have a lot of women in our head office closing deals. I think women are regarded as respectable figures in the Philippines, which says a lot culturally. I remember that in 2022, the Investment & Capital Markets team’s top 3 billers were all women—with me being the highest.  

But as for the future of gender diversity, it’s more about hiring people, giving them the opportunity, and allowing them the chance to be a part of this industry. We are diverse in the office with women, men, and people of different genders and sexualities. We’re pretty good at accepting people for who and what they are.

There are many different ways to go about it, it’s just giving people the opportunity to be inclusive rather than exclusive—which is the best thing. 


What are your strategies for maintaining a healthy work-life balance, and how do you prioritize self-care and well-being? 

I feel like this year is my ‘happy year’. I let go of a lot of baggage from work and life and reconnected with friends that I missed during the pandemic. So, I’m turning 2024 into a ‘Say Yes’ year, whether they’re good or bad plans. Having a balanced life is part of it.  

A work-life balance for me is making time for your friends, your family, and everybody important to you. Also, working out, keeping active, eating good food, having excellent drinks, and meeting good people.  

People talk about it, but people don’t know how to do it. Yes, it’s one thing important to me, but coming from the cusp of turning 30, I realized that I left a lot of aspects of my life on hold. Like the friends I didn’t see during the pandemic.  

There are many aspects of your life that you can pass by. Your work is one part of it—it will sustain you and keep you secure in your retirement. But it really is just one aspect. It should be in a pie chart with your family, friends, social gatherings, religion, and hobbies. It’s a part of it, not the whole of it.  


What advice would you give young women just starting their careers, and what are the essential skills or qualities they should cultivate to succeed? 

Oppenheimer is an important film, but Barbie was pretty clear. Being a woman isn’t easy.  

But when you have the right people around you, and when you have the right support, you feel like you’re winning every day.  

Ines Tambunting shares advice for young careerwomen

It’s not just work life, it’s your life with everybody around you, and whom you surround yourself with. Kind of like the concept of osmosis. That’s really important. Winning in life, not just focused on one agenda. We’re winning in life, focusing on the whole of your being with everything—work-life balance. Balance between everybody that you love, and everybody that you care about. 


Can you share an example of a time when you faced adversity or setback as a woman in your field, and how you overcame it to achieve success? 

Deals are not for the faint of heart. With all your hard work and negotiation, sometimes the client just says no in the end. There is a lot of rejection and a lot of decline. So, when that happens, you need to temper yourself towards the fact that real estate is like a toxic boyfriend or a golden retriever of a boyfriend—depending on the days and the clients. 

You feel it like a heartbreak, but losses will give you time to reflect. It’s the time you’ll gain knowledge on how to act on certain things for the future, feelings, and people. It’s a way to know how you can improve yourself. Always keep yourself learning and becoming better. Practice makes you better.  

For example, maybe I could’ve done one more follow-up. Maybe I could’ve included another person in the meeting to gain a new perspective. Maybe I could’ve adopted a new strategy and thought more outside the box.  

But it’s those yeses—yes, we’ll co-sign; yes, that LOI is final; yes, we agree to the terms. Those are the moments where you feel like there’s hope and there is something you’ve hit in your goals. It’s satisfying, almost like a slow burn. When it happens, it’s cathartic. 


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About Santos Knight Frank

The world of real estate can be a difficult place to navigate. Whether property is your investment or a tool that drives your business success, you need a partner who can guide you in every step of the way.

Since 1994, Santos Knight Frank has been guiding Fortune 1000 companies, BPOs, private clients, and institutions in all facets of real estate. We advise companies on their best office, retail, and industrial location, oversee commercial fit-out projects, and manage facilities. We have facilitated over 4 million sqm of office transactions on behalf of clients and managed over 40 million sqm of real estate under our property & facilities management arm.

Our residential brokerage platform and wide collection of bespoke homes allow our private clients to buy, lease, and sell properties within their budget, timeline, and lifestyle.

For landlords and investors, we provide valuations and appraisal, consultancy and research, sales and leasing, and property management services across the Philippines.

Santos Knight Frank is part of the global Knight Frank network of over 384 offices in 51 markets, including the strategically important U.S. partnerships with Cresa (commercial real estate) and Douglas Elliman (residential real estate).

We are locally expert and globally connected, end-to-end and best-in-class – as any great partner in property should be.