SMPS Member Megan Eby, CPSM
August 12, 2019
In our member spotlight, Megan Eby, CPSM, takes a moment out of her busy day to sit down with SMPS. Megan, who works for Toole Design as a proposal coordinator shares the rewards and challenges of her job and how SMPS has helped her career.
Please briefly describe your role at Toole Design. I manage the proposal process for pursuits and support business development efforts in the West and in Southern California.
What is a typical day like for you? You’d likely find me starting my day by looking up RFPs on bid sites and putting together notes on the pursuit for the go/no go decision-making process. By mid-morning, I’m often developing a proposal outline, scheduling proposal review dates, laying out content in InDesign, boiling more water for another cup of black tea, following up with technical staff about priorities, and updating pursuit information in our CRM. By the end of the day, I’m making my list for tomorrow and sending reminders to staff about content deadlines.
What are the rewards of the job? The challenges? One of the day-to-day rewards is working with people who are excited about the work they are doing. For me, that means I get to ask a lot of questions and learn about our niche work. There’s a challenge in that process. As marketer, you’re driving the technical staff towards a translation. They know their stuff but not everyone reading our proposals understands ‘transportation-speak’ or ‘engineering-speak.’ Our role is helping them identify what really sets us apart in how we will bring solutions to our clients. There are many times where I don’t know what an abbreviation or acronym means and I have to flag it. It’s a humbling position to be in but the reward is you are constantly learning.
What has been your most meaningful project to date? I learned so much when I helped implement a previous firm’s CRM. It was a very difficult process and it demanded a lot of time and creativity. It was a great opportunity to work with the firm’s leadership and with other professionals to customize a system. I started out managing the data input and performing quality reviews and over time, I developed a training program for our firm and set up workflows. I developed some stamina through that project that helps me tackle other challenges.
How did you decide to have a career in the A/E/C industries? After graduating, I lived with three architects. I also come from a family of architects and engineers. My roommates taught me enough about the industry that I could make the case during an interview that I could do proposals. It became a career within a short time because I met the right people. I had a great manager at my first job, she introduced me to SMPS and opened a lot of doors for me. From there, I was fortunate to meet people that wanted to invest in me.
With so many impressive mentors—most of them women—I saw an opportunity to make a career out of list-making and talking to people while feeling a part of something bigger; a school, a health center, a protected bike lane. My current firm, Toole Design, encourages me to make my own path so I’m in an environment to explore where this could all go. Our industry makes it easy to build a career since it’s always changing and those who can communicate well and can innovate will have opportunities to grow.
Why is membership in SMPS important to you? How has it helped you? I learned nearly everything about our industries, about proposals, about marketing, about business in general from SMPS members and programs. The people involved in SMPS are both eager to learn and eager to teach. Even when I was a marketer of one, I never felt alone. I could always browse the SMPS resource library or ping another member when I felt stuck. A strength of SMPS that at first intimidated me was its network. Networking elicited terror until I went to my first SMPS meeting and felt myself being swept about the room being introduced until I felt I could talk to anyone. SMPS has helped me gain knowledge to do this job and I knew early on that I wanted to pursue my CPSM. Studying for the CPSM helped me take on a more strategic view of the work I was doing.
What’s the best career advice you’ve received? Be accountable.
What’s the best career advice you’ve given? Seek out opportunities to be an advocate for others.
What has contributed to your success? People. I’ve had managers, mentors, coworkers, friends, and family that invested in me. They took time to answer all my questions, found challenging projects for me to work on, recommended me for training programs and committees to give me more experience, reviewed my work, listened to me vent, and cheered me on. I’m very fortunate to have a team.
What’s on your bucket list? Meeting Neil Diamond. More realistically, swimming with otters!
What was your childhood dream? To live on a ranch with dozens of dogs.
Guilty pleasure: what can you not live without? Bread!
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