It has been an immense honor leading SMPS as president. In a position of high visibility and responsibility, I knew my presidency needed purpose and a commitment to continuing to advance our organization. It’s not just my personal and company’s reputation at stake but also the Society’s if we’re not a purpose-driven organization.
As president-elect, I was often asked, “What do you want to do during your presidency?” I would reflect on the three-year commitment made to SMPS and respond, “It would be successful if we could come out of the pandemic with revitalized focus.” As I move into my new role as past-president, I feel the energy, creativity, and excitement from as we move back into in person events. But, I also see the exhaustion and uncertainty we’re all feeling.
Understanding my individual purpose was essential to my ability to work with your board to impact the Society’s vision, “Business Transformed through Marketing Leadership”. I have embraced a few lessons of wisdom in the past year and hope that you connect with them as I did.
I learned to observe my thoughts without judgment. My natural stance was “I have an opinion about this” but realized so did everyone else. Everyone in the world wants to be heard. When you stop to listen to others, reflect on your position, and take time to mull it over, you hear yourself differently. Listening is hard work that we continually must practice. By observing and actively listening we create opportunities we may not have noticed.
I’ve grown personally and professionally over the past year through the wonderful relationships developed with the board and the staff. The diversity of thought shared as we worked together to support the network of chapters and members across the U.S. and Canada has been inspiring. Considering the perspectives and needs of our members regardless of my point of view and staying true to our mission, vision, and brand isn’t always easy, but it creates opportunity for reflection, and at times, requires a course correction.
When it comes to reflection, it isn’t only about our minds. Our health and well-being are integral to our success. The reality is that we are sandwiched between worlds with competing responsibilities. Add in the accelerated pace of technological advancements and 24/7 communications cycles and it’s easy to become distracted. Continuously living in this state can leave us tired and unfocused. It may seem cliché but give yourself air first.
For me, it meant changing my routine significantly. It also meant being truly present for my commitments. My favorite saying often comes to mind: “You can’t boil the ocean” but you can make small impacts that add up quickly. Having visibility into all the chapters and SMPS members and the steps they’re making in the industry has been a gift. Collectively, this organization is as strong as it has ever been. Working together and understanding that the success of SMPS is not the impact of one person, but the unselfish steps of many that continue to serve as our cornerstone.
Being an active SMPS volunteer is a gift and an opportunity to give and share. Craig Galati’s leadership presentation during our Chapter Leadership Symposium left me with an impactful thought that I’d often taken for granted: We serve the needs of others.
The Society’s volunteers are highly engaged as compared to other professional associations. We’re proud that our community has a heart that’s committed to the success of the A/E/C industry, which has been especially apparent during the pandemic. Volunteer leaders worked diligently to ensure that business continued. New professionals have come into the industry, and we were prepared to welcome them with open arms, resources, and opportunities to be impactful in their positions. Long-time members have raised their hands with renewed dedication. SMPS Fellows are gathering and determining how to best serve the needs of our next generation. A common theme of the greats? They all impacted someone else’s professional life in some way.
So as my SMPS presidency comes to an end, I’m reflecting on the wonderful relationships I’ve developed. I’m proud of the board and HQ staff’s purposeful efforts to transform our organization and professions. I’m proud of our members and the dedication and commitment you’ve made to revitalize our focus. And I’m humbled by the support from family and friends who’ve helped me balance the year.
Thank you for allowing me to experience it. Hope to see you soon.
Article written by SMPS President Bernice Bako, FSMPS, CPSM, MBA, who is director, global development at Turner Construction. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.