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.