Last month, the annual SMPS Southeastern Regional Conference (SERC) took place in Asheville, North Carolina. This conference brings in 10 different SMPS chapters from 5 states in the region to discuss issues that we face in A/E/C marketing every day and ideas for how to combat those issues and succeed in our positions. Jennifer Barker, Corporate Marketing Specialist at WK Dickson & Co., Inc. said it best, “I always enjoy attending SERC. It’s good to reconnect with colleagues you haven’t seen in a while and meet with new ones. I also like the way a lot of the sessions open me up to thinking about things differently and inspire me to work at a higher, more creative level.”

The conference theme this year was “Reshape the Landscape.” As all things must eventually do to survive, the A/E/C industry is changing and adapting. Luckily the change seems to be happening for the better as people begin to understand all that marketing encompasses and how we can help our companies achieve success. Nikki Ricketson, Inside Sales Coordinator at Jacobs Engineering said, “I walked away from SERC 2019 with an overall feeling that the role of the A/E/C Marketing Professional is evolving. There is a growing respect for our role, and this is an exciting time with opportunities to transition into leadership.”

The speaker and session line up reflected this change. Although there were fantastic sessions focused on hard skills such as proposals, KPI implementation and evaluation, and technology use for marketing, there was a noticeable amount of sessions focused on the importance of soft skills as well. This was most notable in the various keynote presentations. Keynote topics included emotions, relationships, trust, influence, and passion. But no matter the topic, we were all surrounded by people who have been or are in our shoes and understand the unique struggles A/E/C marketers face. “This is the first SMPS SERC conference I have attended in a few years, and it did not disappoint. Beyond the beautiful location of Asheville, North Carolina, the speakers and programs were outstanding. Being in a very niche sector of the Marketing world, these conferences are so helpful to Marketers in the A/E/C industry – the speakers just “get us.” – Kim Fowler, CPSM, Marketing Manager at Falcon Engineering, Inc.

But it wasn’t all work and no play! The welcome reception gave everyone a chance to unwind from travels and get excited about the days ahead. I met someone who had traveled for nearly two days to get to SERC! We also took a fantastic group photo and self-awarded our chapter “The Most Fun Chapter.” I mean, nobody else had props… (Shout out to Stephanie for bringing those!)

The other nights consisted of a dine around Asheville and a social hosted at New Belgium Brewery. We all had a blast trying new restaurants and beers while discussing everything we had learned during the day.

But, for me, the highlight of the conference was the closing keynote, presented by a friend of our chapter, Danielle Gray. Danielle’s keynote, aptly named “Pardon My Passion: 4 (and a half) Steps to Ignite and Sustain Passion” gave us an inside look at Danielle’s life and how she made conscious changes in order to actively pursue a career and life full of passion. She encouraged everyone to find what they’re passionate about and chase it without hesitation. The four steps Danielle recommends in order to pursue a life of passion are:

  1. Release: Let go of what no longer serves me
  2. Love: Love thyself unapologetically
  3. Align: What do I want?
  4. Flow: Trust who you are what you can achieve

And the last ½ of a step includes repeating because, well life happens, and we all get distracted sometimes. But we must take an active approach to be our best in order to best serve ourselves, our companies, and our communities.

I am already looking forward to next year’s conference. It’s a few days jam packed with valuable information, fun events, and the chance to get to know people from the region!

For more information on SERC 2019, visit the website. And if you spot a topic that you can’t wait to dive into, download presentations here.

Blog post by Hali Whittington, Global Sales & Marketing Coordinator at CAI

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