John Zuccerella shares more about his career and what has contributed to his success.
In our member spotlight, John Zuccerella, senior proposal manager for TRC Companies, took time out of his busy schedule to sit down with the Society. He shares the challenges and rewards of his job—and something he can’t live without.
How did you decide to have a career in the A/E/C industries?
Simply answered an ad in The New York Times. I found that once I was in the industry, I was able to use all my skills as a marketer.
What is a typical day like for you?
Putting out fires. Mostly, answering requests, supporting proposal efforts, and mentoring other team members.
What are the challenges and rewards of the job?
The biggest challenge is working on other people’s schedules. While we set clear, obtainable timelines, I am always at the mercy of a project manager trying to maintain their utilization while writing a proposal. The most rewarding part of the job is, working with other people on developing their skills and watching them grow.
What has been your most meaningful project so far in your career?
I wouldn’t categorize it as a project; I would say developing a mentoring program and watching those that have been involved with it grow in their career.
Tell us more about the mentoring program and why you decided to start one.
The program was developed because I was mentored when I first started in the industry. As I grew and moved on to manage my own departments, I found it to be a useful tool to mentor the people who worked for me and to give them the same opportunity and skills that I was given. As a result, my staff was happier, provided more to the firm, and were able to develop and learn new skills.
The program at TRC was created a couple of years ago to mentor and train the team members in my group. Since its implementation, we have developed several classes of mentors/protégés. After seeing the success of our work, the program was adopted by corporate and is being offered companywide to assist in the development of both technical and non-technical employees in proposal development.
Why is membership in SMPS important to you? How has it helped your firm?
SMPS has been a great organization to connect with peers and to learn from others. In the past SMPS has helped by making the firms I was with more visible in the marketplace. For example, at another firm, we won a couple of the Marketing Communication Awards from SMPS. One for a special project and the other was for our brochures. The awards came at a perfect time because we (the firm) were in the middle of creating visibility in the marketplace. These awards played a role in getting the name out to another audience. The outcome was very positive for the firm.
What’s the best career advice you’ve received, and/or would like to share with your peers?
I guess it would be we don’t always have all the answers or the best ways to do things, but most importantly, keep an open mind to how others do things or suggest and use those ideas to improve your processes and apply what works to what you do.
What was your childhood dream job?
Corporate law. Not sure why I wanted to when I was younger, but from what I saw on TV, they made a lot of money. However, the fact that it is was more schooling quickly changed my mind.
Guilty Pleasure: What can you not live without?
CrossFit. I drank the Kool-Aid.