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SMPS Moments – My First SMPS Friend

By Nicole Apel, O’Day Consultants, Co-Chair, Professional Developmentapel

SMPS Moments are a series of blog posts that highlight the value that our colleagues receive by being members of SMPS. This month, we meet Nicole Apel from O’Day Consultants. Nicole is the co-chair of our Professional Development Committee.

In fall 2001, I joined the AEC industry in San Diego County as a Marketing Coordinator for a small environmental firm in Carlsbad. My boss Lisa suggested that our Marketing Assistant and I attend an upcoming SMPS luncheon. I knew nothing about SMPS beyond her enthusiastic recommendations, but she had so many positive things to say about SMPS, that we gave it a try.

We arrived at the Doubletree in Mission Valley (the same one where we still meet!) at 11:30 for registration and networking. The area outside the ballroom quickly filled up with well-dressed men and women who all seemed to know one another. There were lots of hugs and smiles and waves all around. For the first time in many years, I was intimidated.

My colleague—a bit on the shy side—was looking to me to lead us both in the networking and I was coming up empty. For the first time in many years, my palms were starting to sweat. What to do! Thankfully, a very sweet young lady came over and introduced herself. “Hi. I’m Heather with IMS,” she said brightly. I wasn’t just relieved, I was saved! I admitted we were new and she assured us this was a very friendly group and we should have no trouble getting to know other members.

Everyone we met that afternoon had the same natural friendliness that came so easily to Heather. I don’t remember the topic the panel discussed that afternoon, but I do remember the kindness showed by so many that helped me feel welcome.

Over the next few months, Heather introduced me to several other members who also became my long- time friends, including our current President, Catherine McCullough. I realized SMPS was as awesome as my boss said and a great place to make new professional connections. I will always be grateful to Heather, my first of many good friends in SMPS.

If you’d like to share your “SMPS Moment,” contact Olga Fisher, Membership Committee Co-Chair.


This Post Has 3 Comments
  1. As an EX SMPS member, with fond memories of the remarkable people I have met there, I feel compelled to chime in. New to the Industry, many years ago, I too felt totally overwhelmed at my 1st SMPS meeting. It is there, however, that I made good friends w/ so many incredible professionals AND learned SO much. Please be sure to never forget the gracious welcome that Heather and Catherine extended to you, and welcome new or reticent people to the group. Furthermore, concern for others, makes you get beyond your own inner insecurities. Good wishes for much success to all of you in your journey. Evelyn Shields

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