Member Spotlight: Rachel Carr

Member Spotlight: Rachel Carr

In our member spotlight, Rachel Carr, CPSM, sits down for a virtual chat with SMPS. Rachel is associate principal, business development manager for HED. She has been in the A/E/C industries for 15-plus years, is a member of SMPS San Diego, and recently became a certified professional services marketer. In this spotlight, Julie shares the rewards of her career, the benefits of being an SMPS member, and her journey of becoming a CPSM.

How did you decide to have a career in the A/E/C industries? My dad is an architect, so I had very early exposure to A/E/C. I have many memories of visiting my dad’s office (AC Martin Partners) in the Fine Arts Building in downtown Los Angeles. Through his network, my dad connected me with an internship at a lab planning firm while I was still in college. Fortunately, they had a position available for me when I graduated, and the rest is history!

What’s your favorite part of the job? Collaborating with design professionals who are masters of their craft and inspiring mentors. I’ve worked with some incredible individuals over the years within A/E/C.

What has been your most meaningful project? As a business development professional, it’s most rewarding when my design team beats the odds to win a new project. I love coming up with creative methods to set ourselves apart from the competition. A design-build pursuit for a library comes to mind, at a firm where I previously worked. Our team had limited relevant experience, no previous history working in the community where the project was located, and had not partnered previously with the general contractor we were teamed with. However, we were eager, creative, and fiercely competitive. The client loved the design our team came up with and selected us for the contract.

What’s the best advice you’ve received regarding your career or working in A/E/C? Follow your passion. Stay true to yourself. Take risks.

What’s the best career advice you’ve given? Lead by example. Lift others up whenever you can. Pave the way so their paths are more easily traveled.

During our chat, you mentioned that HED mandated the certification to get promoted to upper-level management? Can you tell us more? That’s correct. As part of a promotion at HED in 2021 to associate principal, I was asked to complete the exam and become certified. Our firm’s bylaws state that associate principals and principals are expected to be licensed or certified within their area of expertise. I know many SMPS members who have achieved their certification and have great respect for them. I had interest in CPSM for many years, but with a toddler at home I needed that additional motivation to take that next big step!

As a CPSM, how has certification benefitted you?  It was validating to see all I’ve learned in my career cited in study materials created by my peers. Taking the exam is an opportunity to build confidence. I also learned more about (or refreshed myself on) other aspects of A/E/C professional services that aren’t a part of my current role day to day.

Why is membership in SMPS important to you and how has it helped you to advance your firm and your career? I appreciate SMPS because my membership is centered around personal career development. Through SMPS, I’m making contributions to other professionals by passing along what I’ve learned, and in turn learning from influencers within marketing and business development for A/E/C. My network within SMPS keeps me grounded and focused. It has also provided education, mentorship, career advancement, and networking opportunities.

What’s a helpful hint you’d like to share with your fellow SMPS members? Identify individuals who are aspirational to you. Follow their career paths and seek advice from them. Relationships are two-way, so look for opportunities to assist them as well. Your next job will most likely come from someone in your network thinking of you (before you even know about the position). Eventually, your greatest advocates will create positions for you because they recognize the value you bring.

What did you do at work yesterday? I attended a school design conference that focused on economic forecasting and facilities management best practices. Attending conferences can help you to better understand client motivations. I spend most of my time engaging with clients to build long-term relationships and strategizing with my team as we chase projects.

Tell us something we would be surprised to learn about you. Perhaps that I have a young child. I waited until later in my career to become a mom. It’s important to prioritize both your personal and professional goals (whatever they may be) and to work for individuals and organizations that will support you in both respects.

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