In our member spotlight, Vanessa Martinez, CPSM, takes time out of her day to chat with SMPS. Vanessa is regional pursuit manager for Psomas. She has been a member of SMPS since 2017 and has worked in the A/E/C industries for 18 years. In this spotlight, Vanessa 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? Like many, I fell into the A/E/C industries. I started my career in special events and fundraising for a university. When I was approached by an engineering firm, I had no idea what it all entailed but was up for the challenge.
How would you describe your role/job? My role/job is a mix of marketing and business development, which I love. There’s a lot of variety from leading proposals, presentations, and conferences, to interfacing with clients, building relationships, managing marketing data, and planning efforts for our region.
What’s your favorite part of the job? I love my job, and the day-to-day activities, but my favorite part is the relationships with my team and the communities we serve. Also, engineering is fun. Getting to talk about our awesome team, the cool projects we work on, and finding new opportunities is both interesting and exciting.
What have been the rewards of your career? Again, I love the work but it’s the team that makes it so rewarding. Being able to walk into an office of hard-working people who are genuinely good humans and are fun to be around and knowing that my role of helping to bring in work and contribute to their well-being is what gives me purpose and drive to excel in my role. Also, being able to be in a career that supports my family and that I enjoy doing and feel good about at the end of the day is extremely rewarding.
What has been your most meaningful project? One of the most meaningful projects was one that our firm positioned for against a strong incumbent. We were able to put into practice many of the strategies that we learn and train on as marketers and business developers and won. It was one of the first pursuits that I was able to help play a key role in the complete lifecycle from research to capture planning to the win and on through the project set up.
Why is membership in SMPS important to you and how has it helped you to advance your firm and your career? SMPS has been a game-changer for me. The Society gives you a network of professionals to connect with, each with diverse perspectives and experiences. Many of these connections have become lifelong friends and mentors, which has been an enormous blessing for which I am forever grateful. The training opportunities available through SMPS have also been invaluable and positively impacted my career and personal life.
What has contributed to your success? I think being observant and asking questions have been key to my success. I used to be afraid to sound silly asking questions but now realize that the more that I can try to understand, the better I can communicate and serve our technical teams. I know they don’t expect me to understand all the technical aspects of a project but having a deeper understanding helps develop win strategies, differentiate our firm, and communicate more effectively to clients. I think it also shows I care about the work they do and at the end of the day it’s not just about putting together a winning proposal, it’s about helping our team find meaningful work and supporting their careers.
What’s the best advice you’ve received regarding your career or working in A/E/C? Early on, I was told to get to know your team and that didn’t just mean the marketing/BD staff in my department. It meant everyone from technical staff to finance to human resources to C-suite. I took it to heart, and not only did it help me to understand how the company worked but I also developed excellent relationships and gained champions in different areas. When it came time for me to work on my marketing plan or budget for the next year, they opened their doors and let me ask questions and offered advice. To this day, even though I am no longer at their firms, I still have trusted experts that I can turn to, and many have become lifelong friends.
What’s the best career advice you’ve given? Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and take risks. Typically, I like to play things pretty safe but realized that I can’t grow from my comfort zone. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t made some leaps that I wasn’t 100% ready for.
What’s on your bucket list? Our oldest daughter lives in Australia and we’re taking our family there later this year, which we have been looking forward to for a while. We haven’t been all together since before the pandemic so this is big for us, and we can’t wait.
Guilty pleasure: What can you not live without? That’s a hard one. I would say coffee, but chocolate is really a close second.