In our member spotlight, Kyle Veater takes time out of his busy day to sit down with SMPS. Kyle, who works for OCMI as a business development and marketing manager, shares the rewards and challenges of his job and the benefits of being an SMPS member.
Please describe your role at OCMI. As business development and marketing manager for the Texas region, I’m charged with growing our regional presence and workload by building on existing relationships and developing new ones. I also support our company-wide federal market practice throughout the south and southwest regions.
Along with the rest of the amazing marketing team, I also contribute to the communications and proposal processes for opportunities throughout the country across all of our service lines.
What are the rewards of the job? What are the challenges? I think the most rewarding part is the feeling of what I call well-supported autonomy. OCMI has really created a firm-wide culture of teamwork and resource-sharing. So even though this office is only a year old, I never feel like we’re on an island. I’ve been empowered to help shape the company vision for the office and then I’m set free to execute, all while being able to collaborate with anyone and everyone throughout the company to ensure success. It’s a fulfilling feeling and genuinely gets me pumped to go to work every day.
I think the challenges are the same for anyone who helps setup a new office face. Getting your firm, your value propositions, and your reputation out there in a new market is a long process and takes a lot of patience and persistence. Luckily SMPS Dallas welcomed me with open arms from day one, and it has made the first year of OCMI Dallas a solid start.
How did you decide to have a career in the A/E/C industries? I kind of fell into it by happenstance. Long story short, I was working in radio at the NFL Players Association where I met my first awesome boss, Katie Garrett, who was the director of communications for David M. Schwarz Architects (DMSA) in DC. I had a marketing degree but was not putting it, or my real talents, to use. She brought me on as a marketing assistant and made me join SMPS on day one, which I will be eternally grateful for. The rest is history. I threw myself into the industry, the unavoidable art and inspiration that’s the built environment, and I’ve just been trying to play a role, however small, ever since.
What has been your most meaningful project to date? When I was the marketing manager at DMSA, I was responsible for organizing and executing the firm’s annual charity event called Gingertown. The event brought a few dozen A/E/C firms together to build a town of gingerbread houses based on a unique theme each year.
All of the money raised went directly to local charities. It was incredibly rewarding to support those groups that do so much for our communities. But on top of that, it was an amazing learning experience in managing a mini-non-profit from top to bottom (i.e., finances, communications, personnel management).
Why is membership in SMPS important to you? The access to SMPS resources and membership network alone are worth the price of membership. But beyond that, membership gives me an opportunity to give back, to serve on the board, and to continue to grow my network with some of the most creative, intelligent and forward-thinking people in the A/E/C industries.
How has your SMPS membership helped you? For the first year or two, SMPS was where I learned how to do my job. The reality is, so often there’s no time for you to learn on the job when you first start. SMPS gave me the crash course on the industry—the mechanics, the lingo, the trends—to be effective, and dare I say valuable, at the coordinator level.
From there, SMPS has continued to be a group that offers education and thought leadership on the topics and trends that I need at each stage of my career. On top of that, it’s the foundation of my national network. The number of things and people I know because of the SMPS network surprises even me sometimes.
What’s the best career advice you’ve received? Aim small, miss small. I got this from the awesome SMPS Leadership Series put on by SMPS Washington, DC a couple of years back (shout out Laura Ewan and Amy Cuddy). Set specific goals and works towards them. If you aim for a small target and focus, you’ll end up a lot closer to where you want to be than setting a vague objective with no way to measure success (or precision, in this metaphor).
What’s the best career advice you’ve given? Be curious, ask questions. The more you can learn about every part of the business, such as technical practices, finances, and firm history, the better you can understand your role and opportunities, and how you can contribute as a leader in whatever you want to do.
What has contributed to your success? My work ethic. It isn’t something I’ve always exhibited (read: high school), but I’ve always been surrounded by it. My dad was a drywall man; my mom was a social worker. Both set examples of strong work ethic—physically and mentally—and when I got into the working world, the family genes quickly kicked in. That’s translated into a drive to work as hard as I can to make sure I’m always taking care of my team at work and my family at home (shout out to my fiancé Chelsea and my dog Riley).
What’s on your bucket list? Three things:
- Go to the Comedy Store in LA (see below)
- Go to Anchor Bar in Buffalo, NY (see below)
- Throw out the first pitch at an MLB game
What was your childhood dream? To be a stand-up comedian.
Guilty pleasure: what can you not live without? Buffalo wings. This isn’t a particularly interesting or sophisticated answer, but I could eat them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (and have on more occasions than I am proud of).
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