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Board Member Blog: My Path to SMPS

By Suzie Bravo
Membership Director, SMPS Orange County Chapter

My plan entering college was to become an English Literature professor at a prominent university. Prior to that, I wanted to be an archaeologist, and prior to that, a dentist. My earliest recollection of what I wanted to be “when I grow up” was an architect. In a sense, I ended up incorporating all those professions into one. The effort needed to excel as a marketing and business development professional is much like the lesson planning, preparation, and delivery of a professor. Like an archaeologist, you research historical facts and dig up relevant information to uncover meaningful truths to improve business. Sometimes it’s like pulling teeth to get everyone on board, but in the end, we are the architects drawing out plans and presenting strategies for building business.

When I graduated college, I was still on track to become a college literature professor. My plan was to get my secondary education degree and teach high school for two years before landing a position at a university. What I did not plan on was the early realization that teaching might not be the profession for me. I still gave it two years and came away with some wonderful relationships with faculty and students, yet I was left wondering…what next?

I happened into an engineering firm through an employment agency. I was placed in accounting for which I am ever grateful because I met great friends and colleagues. Again, I realized accounting was not my forte’ and I transpose numbers. Not good for bank drops. Luckily, a position opened in marketing, and I somehow knew that was my calling.

I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of amazing marketing teams at some great firms and recently transitioned into a business development role. Although change is the norm in my career—and my life—SMPS is a comforting constant. Early in my career I saw successful, albeit very busy, professionals donating time with professional organizations. I wondered how they found that time and what was the return on investment? I joined SMPS and my questions were answered. From my perspective and experience, following are some values and benefits of joining and volunteering with SMPS OC.

Broaden your knowledge: SMPS OC offers great round-table discussions, educational programs, and Webinars on the latest industry innovations, research, and trends. Staying informed on your industry’s trends will establish you as a professional in your industry and put you one step ahead of the competition!

Take charge of your career: SMPS OC provides job listings online. These postings are a great way to stay on top of open positions as well as networking and helping clients recommend great candidates for their hiring needs. It’s also a great way to find targeted job postings for your area of interest.

Build your resume: Listing your association membership on your resume is impressive to current or future employers as it shows that you are dedicated to staying connected in your profession. There are also resume writers and editors available for collaboration within SMPS OC’s members.

Enhance your network: Making connections is critical in our industry and joining SMPS provides countless opportunities to connect with technical staff, business development experts, and marketing professionals on a local and global level. Even more importantly in my opinion, joining SMPS has given me a sense of security and trust. I have been supported and helped in reaching my professional goals, and I’ve had the opportunity to do the same for others.

Be a leader and mentor: SMPS has provided me with so many opportunities to develop my skills as a leader. It also provides an opportunity to pay it forward. Giving back can be the greatest reward and benefit. Participating in forums, chat groups or discussion boards sponsored by an association is also a great way to grow your network. This allows you to use your peers as sounding boards and often make some great friends with the same interests as you.

Give back to the community: SMPS OC coordinates socially conscious initiatives to support community efforts. We donate to local charities and support a charity each year.

Stay Inspired and Stay Motivated: SMPS OC reminds me that I love what I do. I found my calling, and SMPS helps me to hone my skill. There may be parts of your job that remind you why you didn’t want to be a dentist—pulling teeth to meet deadlines— but it’s important to be proactive about discovering the things you do love on this journey.