Martin Hill speaks at the UTS Design & Architecture Graduation Ceremony

Martin Hill, Director of HillPDA and CEO of Estate Master Property Software was honoured to be the key speaker at this years University of Technology Sydney’s Design & Architecture Graduation Ceremony.

Speech Transcript


Chancellor, Vice Chancellor, Faculty Dean, Academic Board, our distinguished guests, family and friends and of course, the stars of the show, – You… the Graduates
Thank you for your warm welcome. As a UTS graduate myself I feel deeply honoured and privileged to stand before today. I know the effort it takes to complete your course, especially when balancing this with your work and family duties. I know too the joy of finding a field of studies that you can be passionate to call your career. Importantly too, I also know from a parent’s perspective, how proud your family and friends are of your achievements with your gown and hat on today. Please enjoy this attention and the recognition you deserve.
Today I will reflect upon my career’s journey from graduation that bridges both the IT and Property industry. I hope this address provides some insights and encouragement for your own careers too.

Change & Opportunity

My first degree was in Science, back in the late 70s where I learnt Fortran as a programing language and used punch cards for the Uni-Mainframe!
By the time I entered the workforce a computing revolution was occurring. The age of a personal computer on every office desk was dawning. Opportunity knocked to harness this power but it needed new skills and insight. Spreadsheets became widely available which allowed us to do far more complex calculations on a daily basis with little programming skill. But not all professionals were quick to embrace this change.

In 1990 I remember doing a demonstration of my new DCF valuation software stored on a floppy disk to Senior Director at a Valuation Firm. Post my demo — His sleepy eyed response was: “I hope in my career I will never have to touch one of those” – pointing to my Computer. How quickly things changed. We all use computers at work and at home and even in our phones.

Change is ongoing. Embrace change by being hungry to acquire knowledge about it. Knowledge is power; Power to unlock the opportunities of Change. My only tip here is to act quickly on your insight. Refinement can follow if you see a market opening

Technology & Collaboration

We know how rapidly things changed over the next 20 years with an exponential growth in computer-chip power, global domination of MS Windows & Office, Apple Mac a designers choice, emails & junk mail, spam and texting, the must have IPhone, tablets & smartphones, and the spread of social media with Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin to name a few. This revolution continues to roll today with opportunities arising in the Cloud and the growing armada of Apps

On the whole this has improved our productivity. Look at Google, how it has changed how we both research and socialise. Thank god for Google today — I wish I had Google back in my Uni. This technological revolution has not only changed how we analyse information but how we share it. This called for greater collaboration and understanding of other professions. The Walls between departments were literally knocked down. Fuelling a melting pot of shared professional input and demand for multi-skilling. Accountants became IT experts and IT experts became finance analysts.

Continued Education

I myself working in a consultancy firm saw a market opportunity for improved property investment and development appraisals. Namely one that factored the time value of money – a DCF approach. To advance my plan I need to go back and study property economics, which led me to the best and most respected property school – the forerunner to the Faculty of Design Architecture & Building back in 1988. My course — The Urban Estate Management- fuelled my passion for property analysis. A dual masters in property development and real estate followed furthering knowledge and passion. This bring me to another important lesson I wish to elaborate upon

To teach is to learn – I was honoured when I was invited to come back to lecture to post grads at this Uni in financial modelling. With a young family and fledging business, this supplementary pay was welcomed but most importantly it gave me the discipline to structure my knowledge and to explore the first principals of financial modelling. This opportunity to guest lecture over a decade gave me the insight to develop and refine my development modelling technique, that remain at the core of the Estate Master Software which I am proud to say is actively used in over 50 countries now.

I implore you to seek the opportunity to teach. If not at Uni – then put your hand up for a work presentation. Get involved in committees and writing for publications. This will allow you to shine while adding rigour to your professional knowledge and expand your professional network.

Professional networks

On the subject of nurturing professional networks I strongly recommend that you square off any pizza debts with your class mates before you leave today. Trust me. You will likely cross paths again with these class mates at work or in academia. Keeping their respect and trust is crucial. Friends and colleagues are a gift we give to ourselves. Nurture those bonds !
And Karma will reward you.

Innovation & Entrepreneurship

I now turn to another subject dear to me – entrepreneurship. Often the greatest innovations come from those groups outside big business and government. From small-scale bottom-up, garage-type partnerships often formed from mates at school and/or university. This university provides incubation hubs to foster such innovation. I applaud this initiative and encourage you to explore its possibilities to foster the spirit of innovation in you.

Innovation does not necessarily need experience but it does need imagination and a lot of perspiration. Use your fresh eyes & mind to see things in a different light. I’m speaking to you entrepreneurs and innovators out there!! – you can do it!

But, let me warn you there is no manual out there and if there was it would be out of date! I say be bold in your thoughts and even stronger in your perseverance. If you accept this challenge!!! I want to highlight its fine print… You will work harder and longer than before and that does not change with success.

Life balance you question? Well, the simple answer is: Just love your work. If you have passion for your work there is no distinction between work and play. They embody each other. I can call myself an entrepreneur. I started my first business at 32. My only regret: I didn’t start it earlier.


Enough about my experience. This is your day & time to shine. Let me make one more suggestion and it is the most important in my view.

You must have a plan. That plan should spring from your passion. Passion gives you drive. A plan gives you direction. So Let me be your inner voice for this moment.

You have your degree!
You have your talents!
You have found your passion
So seize the opportunity to execute your plan
And dare to do your best.

I wish you every success.
Congratulations to YOU, and all you Graduates on a job well done !!!

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