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Active involvement in SMPS results in tremendous rewards

September 5, 2013

A Letter from SMPS Boston President, Sarah McGillicuddy, Director of Marketing and Business Development, Acentech. You can reach Sarah by email at

Dear Boston Chapter,

I vividly remember my first SMPS event: It was a decade ago and the first in a series of educational events targeted toward marketers new to the AEC industry. I was beyond nervous and couldn’t even sleep the night before! My nervousness, however, was balanced with my excitement at the opportunity to meet new people and to learn new skills. The event was at the Four Seasons and was focused on proposal development; the speakers presented proposals ranging from local small private school RFP response development to a multi-year infrastructure project for the Panama Canal. By the end of this first event I’d learned a great deal about the proposal process, made lifelong friends, and been recruited to join a committee! The event sparked a ten-year commitment to a professional organization that has been critical to my professional growth and development and is where I’ve met people (like the young woman I sat next to at that first event) who today I count among my closest friends and colleagues. I’ll be honest, in the beginning that nervous feeling didn’t leave me for a little while, but it goes hand-in-hand with the challenge of stepping outside your comfort zone, expanding your network, and building professional confidence – which is what SMPS is all about.

I share this anecdote because, if anyone had told me ten years ago, at that first SMPS event, that I’d be sitting here as President writing a letter in an attempt to impassion a chapter I care so much about, I would not have believed them. I’m truly honored to be leading an organization for which I have so much appreciation and to which I credit with so many positives in my life. I am thrilled to be supported by such an incredibly talented Board of Directors; the entire board has worked tirelessly over the summer to create a lineup of programming for 2013-2014 that will be of great value to our membership.  Whether you are looking to increase your knowledge of the latest trends in the rapidly changing landscape of professional services marketing or are anxious to fill a void you might have in your current position (i.e. think expansive opportunities for leadership, volunteer management, public speaking, etc.), SMPS has something to offer you.

I also share this personal experience because it speaks to the tremendous rewards reaped from active involvement in SMPS. SMPS is such a unique organization and – like so much in life – you get out of it what you put into it. What I love about SMPS is that there is truly something for everyone. Whether you are completely new to marketing and want to learn through our Building Leaders education series or are a 20-year veteran and want to serve as an expert on one of our panels, there is a place for everyone at any level to get involved and, in turn, have your life – certainly professionally and likely personally – enriched. So I ask of you: If you aren’t a member, please become one! If you are a member, but are standing on the sidelines, I want you to “lean in” and engage: you won’t regret it! If you have a staff member interested in SMPS, invest in them as your organization will benefit and they will flourish. The difference between membership and non-membership extends beyond saving money on event registrations.

With that said, we have kept three goals in mind when crafting this upcoming year’s offerings:

  1. Engage our membership and increase it by 15% – We used to be the largest chapter in the nation and I’m confident we can reclaim that position.
  2. Get back in touch with our membership base – those within the first ten years of their career.
  3. Provide more value through greater programmatic offerings and client panels.

Again, I’d like to thank the tremendous talent surrounding me on the Board of Directors and want to highlight some of the upcoming SMPS offerings that we are excited to have planned!


Building on the goal of getting back in touch with our core membership, Director of Education Krista Sykes, Founder of Architecture In Context, and her outstanding committee are reintroducing the Building Leaders series (which happens to be the same program my career with SMPS began with). The Building Leaders series provides events that target SMPS’s core members – those within the first decade of their marketing career.  If you have a staff member that could benefit from this series it’s a great way to sharpen your skills and build a network. It’s also a great reintroduction for those that want to brush up! This series is comprised of five events that will be held throughout the year:

  • Dollars & Sense: Finance for Marketers
  • Debriefing: If We Knew Then What We Know Now
  • Where Did I Put That? Managing the Data Deluge
  • Graphic Design: Fundamentals, Tips, & Tricks
  • Photography & Award Submittals

In addition to the Building Leaders series, we will also be holding our popular annual BD Live event this winter, full-day Marketing Boot Camp this spring, and, throughout the year, we will be hosting periodic webinars, which are free for members. Look for us at ABX, where we will be holding court for the first time in our own booth and sponsoring a reception and educational seminars.


In an effort to increase our programmatic offerings, we are thrilled to kick off the 2013-14 season with our first “Back to School” program on October 9, 2013, featuring Katherine Craven, Executive Director of The UMass Building Authority! Director of Programs Mike Comtois, Marketing and BD with RDK Engineers, along with his dynamic committee have done a tremendous job of securing a great lineup of programming.  In addition to our Back to School kick-off program, we will also be bringing you engaging breakfasts on energy, life sciences, lean practices and design, and private higher education within the commonwealth.


The crisper weather and earlier sunsets might signal the winding down of summer, but this time of year also marks the beginning of a brand new series of SMPS events. Doug Reed, Principal of Foster Growth and our Director of Membership,  has collaborated with his talented committee to not only provide the membership events you’ve come to love (think holiday party and summer social) but to think of ways to engage and add value for our current members and grow as a Chapter.

If you enjoy panoramic views Boston and reconnecting with friends and colleagues over cocktails, join us at our first event of the 2013-2014 year with our annual Back to Business event on September 12th at Blu. Don’t miss out!

CPSM, Awards, and Communications

Coming off an incredibly successful year where the number of Certified Professional Service Marketers (CPSM) was nearly doubled in Boston, the CPSM committee, spearheaded by Jennifer Shelby of Rhino PR, will continue to build off the momentum of a tremendous past year in growing the local community of CPSM members. Keep on the lookout for their study group schedule.  It’s an amazing opportunity and value to get an education specifically tailored marketing and business development within the AEC industry while working towards a shared goal with industry peers and mentors.

The Awards committee, led by committee veteran, Rebecca Roy of Bond Brothers, will also be hard at work to refine the awards process and will, yet again, put together our incredible year-end soiree that showcases the talent and amazing efforts of the AEC marketing community.

Our Communications committee, led by longtime board member and invaluable SMPS supporter Anna Luciano of Nitsch Engineering, will continue to promote SMPS Boston’s events, expand our social media presence, and will take initial steps toward a new website for the Boston Chapter!

Executive Committee

This summer’s planning efforts have been supported with the talents of Jennifer Hegarty with Payette in the role of Chapter Secretary, Doug Larence of Gund Partnership who is serving a new role as Board Treasurer, and Immediate Past President, Rebecca Maloney with Arup. I owe huge thanks to Ben Sawa with GEI who is serving as Boston’s President-Elect.

I close with valuable advice I once received: If you have great ideas, rather than covet them, share them with others – give them away without worry, as it will only force you to come up with even better ones. There is great wisdom in this train of thought and I feel it encapsulates so much of what SMPS is all about. It is an arena of creativity, where ideas are shared and lasting relationships are built among respected professional peers and friends.  Come share with us!

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