Our first Alumni Award winner

Posted on: 2 August, 2022

Nominations are open for this year’s UCEM Alumni Award, which goes to a former student of ours who has made an outstanding contribution in their early career towards creating a better built environment.

The 2022 recipient will become just the eighth winner of this prestigious accolade. Here, we are transporting ourselves back to 2015 as we profile the inaugural winner of the trophy, Julie Christie Marquez de la Cruz, and share her recollections about the win and what impact it has had on her career…

Our first winner

Julie holds the Oswald the Owl trophy at the PICQS office seven years on from winning the award

Julie is the Chair and Founder of the Philippine Institute of Certified Quantity Surveyors (PICQS) – the national quantity surveying association of the Philippines. She is also the Founder and Past Chair of the Philippine Institute of Built Environment (PIBE).

Julie is a Director at Arcadis Global Excellence Centre’s (GEC) Cost and Commercial Management (C&CM) Team in Manila and has over 30 years’ experience in the construction industry. A licensed Civil Engineer, a Construction Industry Arbitration Commission (CIAC) Accredited Arbitrator and a Chartered Quantity Surveyor, Julie is the first Filipino Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and the Australian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (AIQS).

Julie leads the Technical Service Excellence of the C&CM Team in Manila, which involves creating standard operating procedures (SOPs) for use in standardisation and adoption of best practices, digitalisation, founding of the GEC C&CM Training Academy for skills building and capability development of the C&CM discipline across various regions in Asia, Continental Europe, Middle East, North America, Australia and the UK. She constantly looks at ways to streamline its business operations to improve profitability and efficiencies and growing C&CM evolving roles to improve work diet in the GEC to achieve its vision of being the ‘Knowledge and Digital Hub’ of Arcadis.

Julie is also the Project Delivery Director to various projects across different regions for buildings and infrastructure works in the Middle East, being accountable to delivering to promises, ensuring quality of the teams’ deliverables and ensuring budget is not overrun, without compromising health and safety and wellbeing across the team.

Julie serves as Trustee and past elected Secretary for the International Cost Management Standard (ICMS) Coalition, is a Trustee for International Ethics Standards (IES), is the Philippine representative to the Pacific Association of Quantity Surveyors (PAQS), is a panel advisor to the ASEAN Quantity Surveyors (AQSA) organisation, is the AIQS International Chapter Vice President and also serves as Panel Chair Assessor of PICQS, RICS and AIQS.

Julie is a regular trainer/lecturer and speaker at CPD events and contributes to the RICS Journal and magazines to promote standards. She is a committed ambassador to the wider profession, specifically in promoting the quantity surveying profession and education in the Philippines and globally.

Julie conceptualised the PICQS Structured Training Program and spearheaded the formation of memoranda of understanding (MOUs) with various universities to develop the quantity surveying curriculum and conduct training to various companies in the Philippines. She also filed a Bill on Philippine Quantity Surveying Law in 2016. Recently, she headed the development of the first Microcredential courses in Quantity Surveying for roll out by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority – the technical education arm of the Philippine government.

Due to her role with PICQS, Julie is in a prominent position within the industry, where she is a strong advocate of the RICS, AIQS, PAQS and AQSA ,and promotes these organisations at public engagements/speeches she leads.

Julie is a recipient of the Walfords Prize Award at UCEM for best attainment on her quantity surveying course and has also won: the Arcadian of the Year Award, the AIQS Infinite Value Award as Professional of the Year and Women in Construction, the ICEC Region 4 Director Award, the Kulintang Award as Outstanding Cotabateno, the RICS SE Lifetime Achiever Special Commendation Award and the PAQS Service Excellence Award. Julie’s significant contribution to help improve the built environment and quality of life is behind all of these accolades.

And, of course, Julie is the inaugural winner of the UCEM Alumni Award. Here’s Julie’s recollections and reflections on the achievement…

Julie with the Award in 2015

I received an email in August 2015 from UCEM Principal, Ashley Wheaton, inviting me to attend the Property Awards luncheon as one of the six shortlisted nominees for the new Alumni of the Year Award.

I was very excited and, at the same time, nervous because the recipients of the award would not be announced until the day of the lunch itself. The name, photo and profile of each nominee was included in the invitation, and I remember thinking that all the shortlisted nominees had excellent profiles, therefore, the competition was tough!

When my name was called, I beamed with pride as the inaugural winner of this prestigious award. It made the travelling all the way from the Philippines to London worthwhile! After the ceremony, I could not contain my happiness! Even before I reached my hotel, I took a photo of the famous Oswald the Owl trophy on West Smithfield Street to share with my family and friends.

Getting a prestigious international award is priceless. While I have been an inaugural winner of the AIQS Infinite Value Award for Women in Construction and Professional of the Year and the Inaugural Arcadian of the Year, being selected as UCEM’s inaugural ‘Alumni of the Year’ is my proudest moment. I was recognised for the significant contribution I have made in helping to improve the built environment and people’s quality of life.

The Oswald the Owl trophy was previously displayed at PIBE and is now displayed at the PICQS office in Manila. This award inspires Filipino quantity surveying members and students.

Receiving an award and not exemplifying its value is not an option. I have taken on responsibility to transform the industry worldwide, not just exist in it. I feel that I am someone who will leave a legacy and change the future for generations of Filipino quantity surveyors to come.

This award, along with my hard work and accomplishments, had a big impact on my career progression. When I started as a student at UCEM, I was a Team Leader and now I am a Director. It’s very important to me to be an advocate for quality quantity surveying education and for increasing knowledge of the quantity surveying profession in the Philippines.

I would encourage students and fellow alumni to nominate themselves for the Alumni Award because it is not just prestigious, it is an award that you will cherish for the rest of your life, and it will bring honour and pride to your organisation and your country.

As a UCEM alumna, I have always been grateful to my boss and company for sending me to UCEM to study. It developed my passion to become a quantity surveyor and gave me the opportunity to give a meaningful contribution to society. I have been able to influence and inspire my colleagues at work, members of the professional organisation and students to enrol at UCEM and hopefully give their own positive contributions to society.

After graduating from UCEM, I saw the need to inculcate a mindset of promoting the highest standards of professional and ethical practices and be involved in the development of professionals in the discipline to be at par with international standards, hence I founded the Philippine Institute of Certified Quantity Surveyors (PICQS), which now has around 2,800 members worldwide.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Julie. An inspiring story and wonderful to see the progress you have made since winning the Award!

If you would like to nominate yourself or someone else for this year’s Alumni Award, head to our nomination form for further details and to send us your submission.