Mentor-Protégé Spotlight: Rania Sadrack + Sarah Carmany

headshot.jpgMENTOR: Rania Sadrack, Principal/Healthcare Center of Excellence BD, TLC Engineering for Architecture

Length in the industry: 11 years

SMPS member since:  2007

Why did you apply to the mentorship program?
Mentoring will allow me the opportunity to enhance my skills and aid my own professional growth.  Mentoring will also strengthen my coaching and leadership skills.

What do you hope to learn from each other?  Sarah is an intelligent and an energetic young lady.  I know that she will help me gain a fresh perspective and insight into my job.  Additionally, I believe Sarah will help me take a critical look at my leadership skills and identify areas I will need to adjust for improvement.

How did you (or plan to) structure your mentorship? Do you meet at the same time every week? Do you have an agenda for each meeting? We’ve been meeting a couple of times per month, over either lunch or at networking and professional development events/programs.  Post attending the events/programs we plan on de-briefing our thoughts and lessons learned.  This format will help us identify ways to implement what we learn at the events; therefore, capitalizing on the benefits of attending such functions.

What do you like best about working in the A/E/C industry? I can honestly say, the people I get to meet and develop sustainable relationships with.    

What is your biggest strength in your current position? I believe my biggest strength is my ability to foster sincere relationships and help carry on my organization’s legacy by passing on its values and mission.


PROTÉGÉ: Sarah Carmany, Marketing Coordinator,
Balfour Beatty

Length in the industry: 2 years

SMPS member since: 2017

Why did you apply to the mentorship program?
My goal for the year is to create meaningful relationships within the industry and I knew participating in the mentorship program would help me build that foundation.

What do you hope to learn from each other?

  • How to build meaningful relationships and network
  • How to build leadership skills
  • How to approach upper management with innovative ideas
  • How to find my niche within the industry

How did you (or plan to) structure your mentorship? Do you meet at the same time every week? Do you have an agenda for each meeting?  Rania and I have been meeting at least twice a month – not including the events we attend together. Typically, we leave each meeting with one goal for me to achieve or an event to attend (the events are aimed to build upon my larger goal of networking to create meaningful relationships). For example, Rania and I attended OBJ’s Mentoring Monday a few weeks ago, which is an event for business women throughout Orlando to gather together and receive guidance from each other.

What do you like best about working in the A/E/C industry?  The best part about working in the A/E/C industry is proudly being able to say that I play a part in building Orlando, the city that I was born and raised in.

What is your biggest strength in your current position?  I think my biggest strength within my current position is using empathy and emotional intelligence to create action.


Member Spotlight: Pablo Prahl


Promotional Marketing Specialist at Proforma 

Member Since: 2015

How would you describe your role/job?
I deliver joy to my clients every day by offering tools and resources to boost their existing marketing efforts. Working in the promotional products industry means I get to work with the fun side of marketing – providing a product to make a team member smile, to thank a long-term client or to boost what a company is already doing in the marketing space to better communicate their message.

What have been the challenges and rewards of your career?
My biggest challenge that affected my career was moving to the United States from Guatemala in 2011. I had to learn a new language while I was working to open a new business to support my family. This has also been my biggest reward because it requires me to push my own limits every day and make the best out of my time and tools.

What has been your most meaningful or interesting project?
One of the clients I work with is Prospera, previously HBIF. Prospera helps Hispanic
entrepreneurs start their own business in the United States. I love working with this organization on all of their projects because these people’s stories fall very close to my heart. Prospera provided me with assistance as I was establishing my business, so it’s wonderful to give back to the organization that helped me get my start.

How has membership/relationship with SMPS helped you to advance your firm or your career?
My relationship with SMPS is by far one of the best experiences of my career so far. It’s important for members to become involved, and with involvement comes the loyalty, trust and support of the organization. The directors have been extremely involved with my team, always asking what they can do to help us grow.

What’s one thing you’d teach someone in your industry?
In the promotional products industry, it’s not about the products. It’s about the relationships you build with clients, the service you can provide them and the overall time saved by working with you.

Best lesson from a mentor?
Be careful where you allocate your time. Always try to network with people smarter and more experienced than you, but be careful between Networking and Notworking – there is only one letter difference.

One thing you wish everyone knew about your job?
Promotional products are not tchotchkes or giveaways. They are valuable, useful and desirable products to get in touch with consumers in tangible, useful, creative and meaningful ways. In an ever-increasing digital world, we need a message that focuses attention on the tangible ability of promotional products to touch not only the hands, but also the hearts of consumers.


Get Management’s Buy-In to Pursue Your Professional Development


Earlier this month I had the pleasure to attend the SMPS Southeastern Regional Conference (SERC) in Atlanta, Georgia. As anyone who has been to one of SMPS’s regional or national conferences can attest, these conferences are excellent learning and networking opportunities. Attendees hear from dozens of influential speakers who speak from their experience as industry leaders to impart wisdom on the day to day challenges facing marketers in the AEC industry. While it is easy for us marketers to understand the inherent value in our participation at these conferences, our employers may question whether the benefit outweighs the price tag associated with conference registration, travel, and lodging costs. If you are lucky enough to attend a SMPS or other industry conference, make sure you provide your management team with clear evidence that your continued attendance at these events will contribute to the bottom line for your company. Don’t let your experience at SERC or any other conference pass by without recapping your experience, creating an action plan, and following through on those actions, to guarantee that your most recent conference experience will not be your last.

SMPS Conference

While attending an industry conference, we are bombarded with all kinds of new ideas and information. After back to back to back seminars, one day after another, it is easy to forget about the key experiences and knowledge you want to retain and implement in your career. If you attended the conference with any of your peers, get together and discuss what you did or heard that you found most impactful. Talk about what you liked or didn’t like and write it down. Look over the conference agenda to help jog your memory about the things you may have already forgotten. Once you’ve captured your thoughts on paper, let these ideas sit with you, and start thinking about actions you can take to implement these ideas in your day to day work.

As you begin to identify actions you can take to improve your work performance, develop these ideas into a plan to be shared with your management team as an overview of your conference experience. Make sure to start your action plan with a description of the organization that hosted the conference, as well as the purpose of the conference. Your plan can include a commitment to read texts you discovered at the conference, research you plan to conduct on new ideas that caught your interest, and new methods you will use in conducting proposal work, presentations, or general marketing tasks. Present your management team with clear evidence of what you learned, and how you plan to use those materials to better inform your work as a marketer to win work for your company. Your action plan should include realistic ways you can immediately begin to implement your learnings to improve your performance. Once your plan is developed and shared with your management plan, stay true to your word and follow through with implementing these ideas.


If your action plan included new presentation techniques, make sure you give them a try when planning the next project interview. If you learned how to better write project profiles to appeal to your clients, try rewriting half a dozen project stories and share them with your management. At this year’s SERC conference, we learned new techniques to better serve clients from our early business development activities through project completion. Along with my team at PCL, we have used these techniques to identify specific actions that we are already implementing to improve relationships with clients and provide better service through our projects. Once management sees hard evidence of the knowledge you gained at SERC or any other conference – and witnesses your resolve to implement these findings in your work – signing off on your next conference trip will be all too easy.

While we all love going to industry conferences – not only as an opportunity to travel to a new city, spend time with our SMPS friends, and have a few days out of the office – don’t let the benefit of the informational sessions pass you, or your management by. Taking some time to recap your experience, creating an action plan, and following through with new methods and exercises to inform your everyday work will have tremendous benefits on your career. Not only will you be a stronger marketer, with new strategies to help your project teams win new work, you will be granted future opportunities to attend industry conferences and personal development opportunities with buy-in from your company’s senior leaders.