WOS 2012: Ambition – Engr. Emelyn Martinez – Brilliant, Young & Unstoppable

Story by: Lalaine Chu-Benitez

Photography by: Eros Goze

Hair and Make-Up: Ginno Alducente


Engr. Emelyn Martinez cuts the picture of a respectable, well put together, progressive female professional, thriving in the male dominated field of construction. At just 34 years old, Emelyn has managed to excel in a highly competitive business area which, at times is “color and gender sensitive.”

Emelyn works as a Managing Consultant at Hill International’s Dubai, a claims group handling contractual disputes and arbitration proceedings in the sector. She’s worked her way up in the UAE, from being the Head of Planning at the Makati Development Corporation, to serving as planning consultant and then manager at several other companies, including one of the region’s biggest construction firms.

Equally significant, Emelyn was also the former President of the Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineers International (AACEI)-UAE – which she has grown into the largest chapter in the world outside their headquarters in the USA during her tenure – and where, she is the lone woman, and the youngest member of the board of directors.

Early in her career in the emirates, Emelyn experienced being told in job interviews that a Filipina would not be a good candidate for the job.  That didn’t faze her, however. Instead she just kept moving ahead.  One continuing source of frustration though was often being told often that she was “too young” for her work.

Speaking about her constant push to excel, the charming Bicolana recounted, “I’ve always dreamt of making it big someday. It was hard growing up without a father; we lost him when I was 10 years old.  And it was difficult for my mom to provide for all our needs. So I’ve always had this ambition to succeed.”

Going into construction was somewhat of a tribute to her father’s own work as a civil engineer.

“When I was young I was often told that engineering is only for men, but I decided to make it in the field, no matter what.”

Emelyn’s work ethic is her simple secret to success.  “I am very brave and I work hard. While most people my age would spend their free time clubbing or going to parties, I’m working and studying. Though of course, sometimes I go out with friends too.”

Indeed, Emelyn’s hard work is evident in her exceptional credentials. She has degrees in BS Civil Engineering from Bicol University and a Masters in Engineering Management Major in Construction Management from the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila.

Add to that her qualifications from the Royal Chartered Institute of Surveyors, the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, the Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering International (AACEI), the Project Management Institute (PMI), and the Professional Regulation Commission of the Philippines, and it’s easy to see where Emelyn has invested most of her efforts.

Currently, she is studying for a Masters in Law degree at the Robert Gordon University in Scotland.

Emelyn reinforces the adage that first impressions always count, saying that she makes it a point to establish her professionalism to make sure that she is taken seriously.  “Apart from dressing the part, at work, I also have a totally different persona.  I am very focused and disciplined.  But of course, outside of work, I am more relaxed.”

But even her idea of relaxation demands focus and competitiveness. Emelyn has been a marathon runner since 2008 but she candidly admitted that before that, she could not run even a 1km race straight. To Emelyn, this was again proving that anything is possible. “I ran a 42km marathon before, but I had to cut down this year since I suffered from shin splints. Hopefully, I can run my next race in April in Madrid. I am also trying to get into cycling.”

This year, Emelyn also used her participation at the Dubai Marathon for a much greater cause than merely sports; she ran to raise money for the victims of typhoon Sendong in the Philippines and received some AED10,000 in donations within two weeks of her campaign through her charity website. “It might not be a big amount but I think it should help quite a few people back home,” Emelyn shared.

Her little free time is spent volunteering in the community as a trainer and speaker, sharing her knowledge and experience with her peers, always making it a point to encourage, inspire and motivate other professionals to work harder for success through continuous education.

Emelyn’s stellar achievements are proof that nobody is too young to make a mark, or too feminine to lead.