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Presidential Thoughts: Thank you. Love you. Owe you one.

August 22, 2014

All good things must come to an end! The term in office of SMPS Boston’s wonderful 2013/2014 President, Sarah McGillicuddy, concludes this month. Her work this year was nothing short of awesome, and we thank her for her tireless and inspirational leadership!

And now, her farewell address.

Dear SMPS Boston: Thank you. Love you. Owe you one.

As I pass the presidential torch to my friend and colleague, Ben Sawa, there is much I want to commemoratebut as a marketer, I know I’ve got 15 seconds (or less!) to earn your attention. I’ve decided to go the personal route and share what this year has meant for me.

The term of my SMPS chapter presidency represents one of the most transformational, wonderful, and challenging time periods in my life. The theme for SMPS Boston was to RENEW, a theme that was paralleled in my own life this year.

In May of 2013, I was working (OK…scrambling is a more apt description) to complete my first SMPS summer planning agenda, settling into a new position at a job I love, and racing to get all my ducks in a row in preparation of the impending arrival of my first child. I anticipated having a full month to dedicate to initiatives at my job and to lay the groundwork for my year ahead as SMPS Boston Chapter President.

What I learned quickly was that sometimes the best-laid plans are just that. My daughter arrived nearly five weeks early, weighing only 5 lbs. A little bit jaundiced, but otherwise healthy and beautiful. Overnight, life, love, fear–everything as I knew it had changed dramatically. The Chapter Presidency was a goal I had set for myself nearly ten years prior, and now I was confounded about how I could possibly juggle the responsibilities of my career, SMPS, and my role as a mother. I was fearful of not being able to provide SMPS with the time and leadership it deserved. This concern (along with baby) kept me awake at night.

Luckily, I had support pouring in from all areas of my life, including my colleagues at Acentech, my friends, family, mentors, and my SMPS family, especially the Board of Directors. This support, coupled with my own resolve to succeed in my commitments to SMPS, career, and family enabled me to rally.

photoMy uncertainty about motherhood soon turned to second nature; my daughter was thriving, and working alongside the Board of Directors, I spent much of my maternity leave setting the Boston Chapter’s course for the year. This year certainly hasn’t been perfect, and true “balance,” in my opinion, is a myth: something’s always got to give somewhere! However, for me, having so many competing responsibilities helped sharpen my ability to prioritize, and I’ve achieved more while living life in fifth gear than I ever have before.

renewcoverI’m immensely proud of the leaps and bounds that SMPS Boston has made as a chapter, and even more excited about where it’s going. We set out with the goal to renew our chapter and the bottom line is: we did just that! We set three realistic goals and achieved them all: we are a few members away from regaining our position as the largest chapter in the country, kicked off our first-ever town hall meeting, revived the Building Leaders series, grew so much that we won the SMPS National Mega Membership contest, and financially, we are at our all-time strongest! I could go on – however, I really encourage you to take a look at this document, the Boston Chapter’s national Striving for Excellence award submission. This beautifully designed capsule (thank you Alex Quinn of WB Engineers!) is representative of the hard work and the Board of Directors and Boston Chapter’s commitment to a great year.

One of the first calls I made from the hospital was to Ben Sawa. I was a little in shock, in denial, and guilt-ridden as I let him know that he’d likely need to reschedule our planning session. In that moment, I was sure he would agree that the sky was, in fact, falling and that I was letting everyone down. But Ben quickly assured me that all would be okay, instructed me to focus on what’s important, and told me that it would all be waiting for me when I was ready. In the meantime, he would ensure our plans remained on track. I share this story because it speaks so well to Ben’s character. 9786267934_207a65ccb9_nBut this is just one example of dozens that I could share in which Ben was able to serve as a thoughtful sounding board: always providing balanced advice and unwavering support over this past year. I am grateful for his help and what has turned into a treasured friendship. Ben, a natural leader, will bring great diversity to the role as Chapter President as a technical professional who is also a talented and passionate marketer.  I’ve attended Ben’s planning sessions this year, and I can assure you that the momentum we’ve built this year is going to continue tenfold next year. Ben’s leadership, coupled with the talented members of the 2014/2015 Board of Directors, will guarantee a year that SMPS Boston will never forget…so stay tuned!

Reading this, you might be thinking, “Wow, she acts as though she found the answer to world peace!” But let me tell you: at times, that is what this journey has felt like! I’m grateful to be here now, reflecting on a wonderful year of milestones, success, and lessons learned. I’m grateful to not have allowed my fears to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. I can say with certainty that I am standing here today a better leader, more self aware, confident, and am more sure than ever of where my career and life are headed. I owe this to all of you who allowed me to serve as your leader. Thank you so much for the honor and privilege!

I also want to thank the SMPS Boston Board of Directors for supporting me, each other, and working so tirelessly toward common goals. I cherish each and every one of you! A special thanks to Ben Sawa, my equalizer: this year would not have been the success it was without you. A huge thanks is due to Acentech, the most wonderful place I have ever worked; an organization that believes in me, supports SMPS Boston as a chapter sponsor, and provides me the flexibility to do my job, be a mother, and lead this chapter. Thank you to Peter McGillicuddy, who I owe more than I could ever describe in a blog post!

Last but not least, thank you to SMPS Boston for allowing me this cherished experience to become a leader, to grow, learn, expand my network, and become a better professional. SMPS Boston, I love you!

 Sarah is the Director of Marketing and Business Development for Acentech.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. trishtinri permalink
    August 22, 2014 8:55 am

    Great letter! But no baby picture. 😦

  2. August 25, 2014 8:50 am

    Maybe you did not find balance, but it sounds like you did find harmony by surrounding yourself with people who played the right notes with you. Way to go.

  3. August 26, 2014 9:24 am

    You did a great job leading the chapter this year, Sarah! You’ve been a great inspiration to us all on the Board!

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