In our member spotlight, Jennifer Shelby, CPSM, takes time out of her busy day to chat with SMPS. Jennifer is the proposal and communications manager for Architectural Engineers, now IMEG. She has been a member of SMPS for 17 years and has worked in the A/E/C industries for 25. She has also sat on several Society and SMPS Boston committees. In this spotlight, Jennifer shares the rewards of her career and the benefits of being an SMPS member.
How did you decide to have a career in the A/E/C industries? As a kid, I wanted to be an architect because of the cool buildings Mike Brady designed on the Brady Bunch. During college breaks, I made ammonia blueprints for the drafting department of CVS drugstores. An entry-level position in an architecture firm introduced me to marketing and graphic design and I haven’t looked back. I love it.
How would you describe your role/job? I’m responsible for qualifications, collateral, marketing data, and communications, and I contribute to our management discussions, participate in strategy workshops, help build and maintain our culture, develop and manage our branding, and participate in several internal committees.
What’s your favorite part of the job? The storytelling. I’m profoundly proud of our company and the work that we do. My favorite part of the job is to drill into the details in a compelling, engaging, and custom-crafted way in order to describe why we are uniquely positioned for a particular pursuit.
What have been the rewards of your career? The most rewarding part of my career so far has been meeting and working with some amazing, collaborative, funny, inspiring, and thought-provoking people. They make me better at what I do and help me remember why I do it.
What has been your most meaningful project? I’m particularly proud of my involvement as a volunteer contributor to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ first electronic submission, evaluation, and review platform. I joined a focus group and brainstorming meeting very early in its development and contributed user experience feedback, suggestions and sometimes content and graphic design. This platform is the only way to submit applications for public work to the State, and future goals include onboarding other public Massachusetts agencies and local municipalities.
Why is membership in SMPS important to you and how has it helped you to advance your firm and your career? Being part of an association so focused on education and professional growth was akin to attending college with the added benefit of having already chosen a career. I’ve met some great friends and networked with critical influencers through my involvement, and I feel like I found my footing and became who I was meant to be through these experiences.
What has contributed to your success? The auspiciousness of meeting the right people. I’ve been touched by the generosity of time and willingness to help from those I’ve met throughout my career.
What advice would you give someone about to enter marketing or business development? Join as many SMPS committees as you can and get your CPSM. I consider mine as relevant and valuable as an engineer’s P.E. It conveys commitment, investment, and a command of knowledge in my chosen field, with a foundation of resources and a cadre of best practices backing it up.
What’s the best advice you’ve received regarding your career or working in A/E/C? I don’t recall any stand-out gems of advice, per se. Instead, the lessons I’ve learned tend to be the best advice. Whether in the form of course corrections, constructive criticism, or encounters with colleagues that didn’t go as well as planned, those hiccups help me continue to fine tune the way I work and interact with others in a way that is both thoughtful and humbling.
What’s the best career advice you’ve given? When in doubt, do a SWOT analysis! Breaking the components of a problem into manageable and isolated categories helps reframe and realign issues, often leading to a manageable solution that is validated by the process. The practice applies to almost any situation and is an invaluable tool.
What’s on your bucket list? I don’t actually have a bucket list. My husband and I have traveled and have had adventures, and I hope we have many more. But when I look to my future, I see us as happily retired and active artisans spending time making stuff. We’re both creative and love working with our hands in variety of mediums. I hope we grow old together making art in a cabin in Maine surrounding by pot belly stoves and a pile of dogs.
Guilty pleasure: What can you not live without? Black coffee and yarn.