SMPS Member Kathleen Porter

February 13, 2020

In our member spotlight, Kathleen Porter takes time out of her busy day to chat with SMPS. Kathleen, who works for Lavellee Brensigner Architects as business development manager, shares the rewards of her job and the benefits of being an SMPS member.

How long have you worked at Lavellee Brensigner Architects? This summer, I’ll celebrate five years.

How long have you been an SMPS member? I’ve been an SMPS member since 2011.

What are the rewards of your job? There are two aspects of my job that are the most rewarding. First, the ability to collaborate and work as a team, inside and outside of the firm. We’re constantly learning and improving when we work together. Second, I derive much of my professional fuel from the competitive nature of our industry. I love a win!

What are your challenges? Between the deadline driven nature of our industries and the constant connectivity, I find it very hard to unplug. I don’t blame anyone but myself because I genuinely love the work I do. I like working hard and I appreciate our accomplishments—2020 is the year I will find better balance in my life!

What has been your most meaningful project? Our firm was recently awarded a publicly funded education project that was years in the making. Working alongside a Design Principal, we conducted extensive research, observed our competitors, learned from our consultants, strategized, perfected our message, and waited patiently for the stars to align. The moment we earned that project, I felt as though I’d won the lottery. My second thought was what will I do with all my free time, which of course was immediately filled with other pursuits. Our firm made a commitment to this project type and didn’t stray from the path; it was an investment in time, and it paid off.

How did you decide to have a career in the A/E/C industries? I fell into my A/E/C career. After six months, I knew that the built environment was the place for me. No two days are ever the same, no two projects are the same, no two clients are the same, and no two pursuits are the same. We’re not just consultants, we sell ideas and we solve problems.

How has SMPS membership helped you? I originally became involved with SMPS to garner a better understanding of marketing specific to A/E/C. There are tremendous resources available including, conferences, workshops, webinars, white papers, and the monthly Marketer. Without a doubt, though, it’s the personal connections that I’ve made by attending local chapter events that have had the greatest impact on my career.

I’ve built a strong network that I continue to utilize every day. My network includes engineering and construction partners as well as competitors. At SMPS, there really aren’t competitors. Recognizing that we’re all in this together, we support one another and aim to drive the industries forward. I come from the small but mighty SMPS Northern New England, where as a volunteer I’ve had the opportunity to work with some of the most thoughtful, hardworking, and smart group of people. Our chapter’s success is proven by the growth we have seen in the past six years.

What’s the best career advice you’ve received? I’ve received so much good career advice over the years.

“Speak up and advocate for what you think is right.”

“Know when to keep your mouth closed.”

“Encourage and teach junior staff, they’re our future.”

And probably most important in my business development role, “Don’t be away from your family more than three evenings a week, you’ll never get that time back.”

What’s the best career advice you’ve given? “Curiosity will take you far!” and “Start with yes then figure out how you’ll get it done.”

What has contributed to your success? I see my success as an indicator of my value to the firm. One of my contributions is that I’m always thinking about the best and highest use of someone’s time. If there’s a task that I can take from a firm principal to free them up to do the things that only they can do, I jump at the chance. Then, I just get things done. Our CEO once said to me, “You’re one of the lowest maintenance people I get to work with,” that was a huge compliment coming from him.

What’s on your bucket list? World travel. Greece and Italy are at the top of my list.

What was your childhood dream? My dream job in high school and college was to be a U.S. Senator. Mostly because I enjoy a good debate but also because establishing public policy is an honor and a privilege. I never ran for national office, but I’ve been volunteering in my community for more than 25 years; my friends and family say I have volunteeritis.

Guilty pleasure: what can you not live without? As much as I could probably live without them, I have an unhealthy relationship with the potato. I like them fried, baked, and mashed. If I had to choose just one, it would be the tater tot smothered in truffle oil and parmesan cheese. I have a smile on my face just thinking about them.