Affordable housing advocate takes top alumni honours

28 September 2017

2018 
Alumni Award recipients

Photo: Martin Hill, recipient of the UTS Chancellor’s Award for Excellence with his daughter Virginia Phillips, wife Lisa Hill and daughter Sarah Hill. Picture by Carmen Lee.

Industry property specialist, software entrepreneur and affordable housing advocate Martin Hill took out the top honours at the 10th annual UTS Alumni Awards last night.

Each year, UTS honours the extraordinary career success and outstanding leadership of a cohort of graduates across 12 categories, including the prestigious UTS Chancellor’s Award for Excellence.

UTS Chancellor Catherine Livingstone AO selected Hill from the 11 recipients to win the top award in recognition of his decades of professional success as founding director of property consultancy firm HillPDA, innovation as founder of internationally renowned EstateMaster Development Feasibility software, and commitment to social justice through several housing-affordability schemes, including founding not-for-profit Metro Housing.

Presenting Hill with the award, Ms Livingstone paid tribute to his many achievements.

“Martin is a champion for industry integrity, social equity, innovation and education,” said the Chancellor.” Greatly respected by his peers and the wider community, he is recognised as an exceptional leader in the field of social and affordable housing. His work stands as a demonstration to all of us that the best way to preserve the vital and beautiful diversity of our cities is to ensure that everyone can live in them.”

Hill also received the UTS Alumni Award for Excellence from the Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building.

Part of the inaugural UTS Graduate Diploma in Land Economics cohort – Australia’s first postgraduate property course – the degree exposed Hill to multiple disciplines. It not only prepared him for a shift in the job economy towards diversified professions, but his knowledge and experience across financial modelling, development feasibility and property valuation later fed into the development of his pioneering analytical and financial software platform, EstateMaster, which is now industry standard in Australia, the Middle East and beyond.

“That pathway was not easy,” Martin recounted to the audience. “At first because when I started developing the software, Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) analysis as a methodology was broadly rejected by valuers as it was not recognised by the courts. That view progressively changed and today I am proud of the role my software has played in gaining broad acceptance and application of the DCF approach.”

“I dedicate this award to my wife and to my faculty, to the wonderful inspiring people that teach in it, and the insight and courage you provided me to pursue the change for DCF analysis.”

EstateMaster took off in the early 2000s when the GST was introduced, increasing revenue at 100 per cent for the subsequent eight years. Hill sold it to multinational Altus Group in 2017, but not before creating the University Partnership Programme and distributing the technology to universities around the world so students could learn it for free.

The Chancellor applauded his entrepreneurship and generosity saying, “He created one of the most-used property development software platforms in the global market and then, because he loves education, he gave it away.”

Accepting the award from the Chancellor, Martin expressed his admiration for her vision for the university.

“They are great seeds of education and great encouragement for us to go out and achieve,” said Martin. “It’s so wonderful to hear all these stories, because it’s not about yourself, it’s about what you can do. It’s not the reward – it’s the contribution.”

As the recipient of the UTS Chancellor’s Award, Hill is now a member of the UTS Luminaries, a group of outstanding alumni who are closely engaged and passionate advocates for the university.

2018 
Alumni Award recipients

Photo: UTS Alumni Award recipients, from left: Dr Ponndara Ith, Maya Newell, Violet Roumeliotis, Vivian Wong, Dr Eric Chow, Martin Hill, Mikaela Jade, Josephine Cashman and Nicholas Stewart. Picture by Carmen Lee.

The UTS Alumni Awards gala dinner was held in the Great Hall on Thursday 27 September 2018 and attended by 210 alumni, staff and students. Eleven exceptional graduates were honoured for their professional accomplishments, demonstrated leadership and commitment to changing the world for the better.

This year’s recipients included doctors reforming healthcare and championing medical breakthroughs, lawyers fighting for the rights of minority groups, tech innovators, and individuals who have seamlessly integrated their passion for social justice into their core professions.

Among them were Early Start CEO Hoang Dao (Bachelor of Engineering, 2006) who created Monkey Junior – one of the world’s most downloaded kids’ education apps; founder and CEO of Indigital Mikaela Jade (Bachelor of Science in Environmental Biology, 2004) who has dedicated her career to empowering Indigenous people by creating business opportunities in the digital economy; and Nicholas Stewart (Bachelor of Laws, 2009), partner at Dowson Turco Lawyers and a passionate campaigner for LGBTI rights, including tackling cases against NSW Police for historic incidents of violence against gay men and homophobic discrimination against gay police officers.

Provost and Senior Vice-President Professor Andrew Parfitt spoke about the daunting task of selecting just 11 recipients from a pool of over 50 brilliant, high-achieving alumni nominated for this year’s awards, and praised the nominees for embodying the UTS spirit. “Your outstanding contribution to your profession and the community is an inspiration, and we look forward to your continued involvement with UTS as ambassadors and role models,” said Professor Parfitt.

The Provost hosted the awards, with UTS alumni Barbie-Lee Kirby (Bachelor of Business, 2016) and Christopher Yong (Bachelor of Business and Laws, 2018) as Masters of Ceremonies.

This year's full list of award recipients:

UTS CHANCELLOR'S AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE
Martin Hill
Graduate Diploma of Land Economics (1988); Master of Property Development (2006)
Founder and Director, HillPDA; Founder, EstateMaster project software

UTS COMMUNITY ALUMNI AWARD
Nicholas Stewart
Bachelor of Laws (2009)
Partner, Dowson Turco Lawyers

UTS INDIGENOUS AUSTRALIAN ALUMNI AWARD
Mikaela Jade
Bachelor of Science in Environmental Biology (2004)
Founder and CEO, Indigital

UTS INTERNATIONAL ALUMNI AWARD
Hoang Dao
Bachelor of Engineering (2006)
Founder and CEO, Early Start

UTS YOUNG ALUMNI AWARD
Dr Dominic Hare

Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Applied Chemistry (2006); Doctor of Philosophy in Science (2009)
Head of Atomic Pathology Laboratory, The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health

UTS ALUMNI AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE – FACULTY OF ARTS AND SOCIAL SCIENCES
Maya Newell
Bachelor of Arts in Communications (Media Arts and Production) (2010)
Film Director and Producer

UTS ALUMNI AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE – FACULTY OF DESIGN, ARCHITECTURE AND BUILDING
Martin Hill
Graduate Diploma in Land Economics (1988); Master of Property Development (2006)
Founder and Director, HillPDA; Founder, EstateMaster project software

UTS ALUMNI AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE – FACULTY OF ENGINEERING AND INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
Vivian Wong

Bachelor of Applied Science in Computing Science (1993)
Group Vice-President (Higher Education Technologies), Oracle

UTS ALUMNI AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE – FACULTY OF HEALTH
Dr Ponndara Ith
Doctor of Philosophy (2013)
Head, Bureau of Academic and Training Affairs, Faculty of Medicine, University of Health Sciences, Cambodia

UTS ALUMNI AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE – FACULTY OF LAW
Josephine Cashman
Bachelor of Arts in Communication (Journalism), Bachelor of Laws (2006); Graduate Certificate in Legal Practice (2006); UTS Business School PhD candidate
Chair, Big River Impact Foundation and Managing Director, Big River Consulting

UTS ALUMNI AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE – FACULTY OF SCIENCE
Dr Eric Chow
Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Science (Forensic Biology) (2008)
Senior Research Fellow, Melbourne Sexual Health Centre and Central Clinical School, Monash University

UTS ALUMNI AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE – UTS BUSINESS SCHOOL
Violet Roumeliotis

Master of Management in Community Management (2011)
CEO, Settlement Services International

Byline: Clio Anne Ellis