MENTOR: Cheryl A. Maze, CPSM, LEED AP BD+C, Principal/Corporate Marketing & BD Manager, TLC Engineering for Architecture

Length in the industry: Jumped into the industry in 1988 – took a break to return to banking, so about 26 years in AEC total. Yikes!

SMPS member since:  2001

Why did you apply to the mentorship program?  This is my third year managing the MP program. I already knew Valerie and as we were pairing up the teams, I really wanted to get to know her better. She’s accomplished so much in her career, I was hoping that I might help her find her next goals and gain greater confidence in herself.

What do you hope to learn from each other?  I’ve already learned a lot from Valerie – she reminds me of myself earlier in my career. She’s fun to be around and while our conversations don’t always stick with industry happenings and work, we always end up laughing. She has awesome knowledge on submitting in the federal market!

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 battling crazy schedules, but in addition to meeting at least once a month, we exchange emails and keep tabs on each other. Part of the MP program is simply not feeling like you’re tackling the time monster alone – while our firms are very different from each other in many ways, we’re both facing similar challenges with too much to do and not enough time.  Agenda is up to Valerie. She’s driving the topics. Sometimes we don’t talk about work at all – and that’s OK too.

What do you like best about working in the A/E/C industry?  It’s never dull!  There is always some new adventure, some challenge to solve and new people to meet!

What is your biggest strength in your current position?  From early in my career, due to the size of the firm or office I was working for, I’ve almost always ended up wearing two hats – one for marketing and one for BD.  The two dovetail, but at times wrestle.  Each side makes me better at the other.

Valerie Murphy 2017PROTÉGÉ: Valerie Murphy, MPA, CPSM, Marketing Specialist, Blue Cord Design and Construction, LLC

Length in the industry: 6 years

SMPS member since:  2014

Why did you apply to the mentorship program?  I have always had the mindset that I have more to learn, and everyone can teach me something. I haven’t been a part of SMPS – or the A/E/C industry – for as long as some members in our chapter. When I first started working in marketing, it was something totally new for me. I had informal mentors (in my office) from the beginning since I was the only marketing person at the time. I applied to the chapter’s program because I figured I could increase my marketing savvy and expand my A/E/C contacts.  So far both of those things have happened…and are still happening.

What do you hope to learn from each other?  I’m excited to hear “pearls of wisdom” from Cheryl since she has so many years in the industry. At this point, I’ve had experiences in the program as a mentor and a protégé. Some of my program goals focus on everyday things, like workplace interruptions. That’s just one example where she’s encouraged me to realize how I currently handle things – and make some small changes to my routine. Those ideas – even if I don’t use them right away – are what I appreciate most. That’s knowledge I may not have otherwise, at my current level.

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 discussed my goals as a protégé at our first meeting, and Cheryl encouraged me to think about “big sky” goals, things that I would really like to accomplish, but maybe hadn’t thought about, or that I don’t have the time to tackle.

We meet once a month in person, but it’s not always at the same time. The last part of my monthly report is always “I’ll check my schedule and reach out” for the next month’s meetup. I try to do that as quickly as I can for the next month. I appreciate the flexibility we have since we understand marketing schedules. Cheryl always tells me to think of something fun to do, so it gives me a challenge to find a “new” experience each month. A few examples: in March we used a site tour (at Finfrock) for our meeting. For May’s meeting, we’re planning to have dinner at a noodle house with really tasty pho. Slurrrrrrp!

As far as an agenda, I haven’t set a formal one for any of our meetings. I think the biggest “agenda” item we have is always finding a time to connect, that works! 🙂 I keep notes for our monthly meetings, and that helps me remember if we left a topic “unfinished”.

What do you like best about working in the A/E/C industry?  Every piece of a proposal, from the project photo on the cover page to the technical narrative, to those project examples, tells a tale. I think that’s what I like best: I’m not just in marketing. I get to tell stories every day.

What is your biggest strength in your current position?  As a Marketing Specialist, I hone in on details – making sure forms are filled out with the right dates/ contract amounts/contacts, requesting project evaluations and ensuring responses get submitted on time. I have always been a perfectionist, and I think it suits me well in my job. There’s satisfaction in knowing every ‘i’ has been dotted, and every ‘t’ has been crossed when a response is submitted to a client.


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