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Building Leaders Series, Parts I & II

October 10, 2013

Today’s post is courtesy of Krista Sykes and Jennifer Hegarty. Krista Sykes, Founder of Architecture In Context and Director of the SMPS Boston Education Committee, can be reached at or through Twitter @AKristaSykes. Jennifer Hegarty, Marketing Manager at Payette and Secretary of SMPS, can be reached at 

This two-part blog post focuses on one topic: The Building Leaders Series, which begins this November. In Part I of this post, “We Have the Events You are Looking for!” Krista sets out three reasons why she anxiously awaits the Building Leaders Series. In Part II, “How Building Leaders Shaped My Career,” Jennifer discusses the formative impact a previous Building Leaders Series had on her career.

Part I: We Have the Events You are Looking for!

Krista Sykes

BLS_IconA few weeks ago I received an exciting postcard, courtesy of SMPS Boston’s Education Committee. Of course, the arrival of this postcard was no surprise. As director of the Education Committee, I have worked for the past six months with our amazing committee members to conceptualize and plan the year’s education events. So even though I knew the postcard was on the way, I was nevertheless delighted to see this particular piece of mail. Why, you might ask? For three reasons:

  1. Building Leaders Series: It’s really back! We have revived the Building Leaders Series. The concept behind Building Leaders, last held in 2007, is to offer a series of educational programs targeted toward early-to-mid-level marketing professionals. These events showcase knowledge and skills that savvy marketers use to boost their careers and help their firms excel. With five events spaced throughout the year, participants have the opportunity to connect with each other in a welcoming and fun learning environment. We offer education and camaraderie!
  2. Topics: While the Building Leaders Series was originally created with early to mid-level marketers in mind, after reviewing the programs for the year, we realized that everyone, from beginning marketers to seasoned veterans, will benefit from these workshops. Seriously — who doesn’t welcome tips on managing project/client data or creating killer award submissions? And I know you want to know everything you were ever afraid to ask about debriefing. Chances are we could all use a refresher on the finance side of things, and I for one can’t wait to learn graphic design tricks that will make marketing life easier. As the postcard declares, these really are the events you are looking for!
  3. Value: The value if two-fold. First, Building Leaders offers amazing value to participants with the chance to learn key material from leaders in our industry. Second, if you sign up for all five Building Leaders events before November 4th, you will receive a significant discount; members pay for four events and get the fifth free. Non-members also receive a discount. (But honestly, if you aren’t a member, you should just join. The membership cost is worth it! )

So now you see why I was so excited to receive the Building Leaders Series mailer, and why I am anxiously awaiting the events, each and every one of them. Hopefully you are too. On behalf of the Education Committee, we look forward to seeing you there!

Part II: How Building Leaders Shaped My Career

Jennifer Hegarty

No one cares about your career as much as you do and I’ve learned you need to make a consistent effort to grow throughout your professional life. SMPS has been there for me both when I started my career and when I’ve needed a refresher.

My first SMPS experience was attending the Building Leaders series over 13 years ago. After seven years on a completely different career path, I transitioned into the world of A/E/C marketing. I had previously managed the architectural slide library at Northeastern University and started at Payette as the Visual Resources Coordinator (which was part of the Marketing Department) with the ambition to move into a future marketing role.

Since images are so closely tied to the firm’s PR and communications efforts, I was responsible for developing all of the design award and publication submittals. Because I was new to this field, I immediately looked for a professional organization to join. While at Northeastern, I was very active in the Art Libraries Society (ARLIS) New England chapter and really enjoyed the camaraderie and excitement of being part of a professional organization. After some research, I joined SMPS, attended Building Leaders and served on the Communications Committee. Less than a year after joining, I was promoted to Communications Coordinator and then to Marketing Manager the following year leading the entire marketing department.

Back in 2001, the Building Leaders series had a different focus and was structured as a six week “boot camp” for entry-level marketing professionals. I am curious to see how the program has evolved to engage both entry-level and seasoned marketers alike. Many current colleagues who I work with on a regular basis were in my “class” and we still see each other regularly at SMPS events. When I signed up, I had no idea how beneficial it would be even years later and I’m looking forward to this year’s more advanced program even more.

All of the proposed topics in this year’s series focus on many of the issues I face on a regular basis and I’m interested to learn what my peers are doing in each area. Now that I have been in the A/E/C industry for nearly 14 years, I am continuously impressed by how much I learn at every SMPS event; even those that I might have assumed were more focused on entry-level marketers. For example, last year I attended “Ask the Experts: Presentations” thinking that I have been doing presentations for years and probably wasn’t going to learn anything new. I was wrong. I came back from the meeting with so many good tips and ideas that our principals were really excited about implementing. Not only has SMPS made me a better leader but it also makes me look good to my firm on a regular basis.

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