Alumni Spotlight: Crinezza Veil Mendoza

Crinezza Veil Mendoza graduated from IHS with an MSc in Urban Management and Development - specialising in Strategic Urban Planning and Policies. She is a public servant, an environmental planner, and a civic volunteer with over a decade of experience in Public Administration, Public Policy, Government Planning and Project Management. She currently works in her home country, the Philippines, as a Chief Planning Officer at the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) a government agency responsible for transforming military base lands into centres of economic opportunities by establishing integrated developments, dynamic business centres, and vibrant communities. 

Working as an urban manager

Her responsibilities at BCDA include ensuring adherence to the planning documents to both international and Philippine policies and guidelines. Additionally, she conducts market research to leverage the potential of the BCDA special economic zones to foster sustainable growth and create opportunities for the Philippines.

Crinezza gets a sense of joy from knowing that her work directly contributes to the creation of transformative developments which not only enhance the urban landscape, but also lead to substantial socio-economic opportunities. It's a responsibility she embraces with enthusiasm, knowing that she plays a role in shaping a future where cities thrive and contribute to the overall development of the Philippines.

Integrating academic knowledge on the job

Crinezza studied at IHS to enhance her knowledge and skills as a licensed Environmental Planner and specialise in Institutional Development. At the time, she was working at the University of the Philippines (UP) as a Research, Extension and Professional Staff, and she was in charge of assisting government offices in crafting and developing policies, as well as evaluating government programmes. After graduation, she was able to apply her newly gained knowledge when formulating government policies and plans, particularly on environment, housing and related sectors. Additionally, she used strategies that she learned in class, in terms of engaging with various stakeholders from diverse backgrounds and ensuring a well-informed and inclusive approach to policy and plan formulation. Furthermore, in her capacity as a training programme manager at the University, she designed and executed various training programmes focused on Policy Formulation and Project Development and Management, tailored to meet the specific needs of government personnel and officials. 

Biggest challenge

One of the biggest challenges Crinezza faced after graduation was transferring and applying knowledge from one context to another. While studying abroad, she and her fellow students were exposed to innovation, cutting-edge practices and successful approaches that worked well in a Global North context. However, blindly applying these practices in their home countries posed a challenge. Crinezza emphasized the importance of maintaining a balanced perspective, acknowledging the cultural, economic, and social intricacies that shape effective solutions in a very different local context.

"It's about synthesizing the best practices learned abroad with an understanding of the local landscape, ensuring that the knowledge gained contributes meaningfully to the development goals of the Philippines."

Volunteer work 

During her tenure with UP, Crinezza started engaging in pro-bono projects across various institutions, focusing on governance-related initiatives such as policy development and planning and acting as a resource person. Beyond her professional commitments, she is also a Board of Trustee member and Director of the Identity, Communication, & Linkages Division at the Centre for Neighbourhood Studies (CeNS) aimed at understanding, developing, and promoting smarter and more sustainable neighbourhoods. In this role, she provides assistance to provinces and cities in making sense of their neighbourhoods. She is also a Navy reservist, a role in which she was able to apply strategic engagement skills in civil-military operations. This happened especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, a time when reservists were mobilized for the emergency response. 

"Volunteer work experience has not only contributed to my professional growth but it also shaped me as an individual."

The boost of an international study programme

“An international MSc Urban Management and Development degree from a top university provides a significant advantage when it comes to building a career in the field of urban planning.”

Individuals with this degree are well-suited for various positions such as Environmental/Urban Planner, Policy Analyst specializing in Housing, Environment, and related sectors, Urban Consultant for government and non-government organizations, and technical governmental staff, engaged in various planning-related tasks.

Eight years after her graduation, Crinezza reflects on how studying at IHS has not only boosted her career, but also helped her discover her professional niche and deepened her passion for exploring different places and appreciating their unique cultures and characteristics. At age 33, she is an avid traveller, having explored over 70 international cities in 33 countries.

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Header photo credit: Bases Conversion and Development Authority, Philippines

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