Creative, inquisitive, and continually leading the way, November’s Member of the Month is a quintessential backbone of our New York chapter. Kirsten Haas is currently taking charge as Co-Champion for TME 2017, in addition to serving on both the Leadership and Professional Development committees. As the Marketing Director for Acoustic Distinctions, Kirsten made it a primary mission to reshape marketer’s roles in the A/E/C industry and properly distinguish their importance at a firm. Let’s read below as Kirsten shares with us some critical advice, along with many other insightful thoughts and ideas.
- 1. Where are you from originally and what brought you to New York?
Born in Manhattan and raised in upstate New York (Binghamton), I landed in the big City after being a “displaced yankee” in Atlanta for more than a decade. My family summoned me north of the Mason Dixon line to help my mother recover from knee surgery. I’ve been an official New Yorker for more than 6 years.
- 2. How has being a member of SMPS influenced your career thus far?
SMPS has been the primary means for my professional development and growth. I landed in my current position from the referral of SMPS connections. Many of my best and closest friends are SMPSers. In many ways, SMPS is my extended family. SMPS offers opportunities for me to step out of my comfort zone and take on new and interesting challenges – the latest of which has been as the Co-Champion for TME 2017. SMPS involvement on committees and special initiatives exposed me to sophisticated strategic thinkers who challenged me and engaged me in ways that were not available to me at the office. Now, I find myself drawn to new SMPS members and creating opportunities for them to discover and activate their superpowers.
- 3. Can you better describe your role at Acoustic Distinctions and what responsibilities your job entails?
Acoustic Distinctions is a small specialty consulting firm that has been around for 26 years. Upon joining their team 6 years ago, I took on the challenge of helping the executive and technical teams broaden their view of what marketing is – that it entails more than re-spinning boiler plate narratives and getting as many proposals out the door as possible. While I shoulder the brunt of proposal efforts, I’m the firm’s primary author of all communications. I’ve made it a mission to eradicate rhetorical BS and better articulate what’s real and meaningful to prospects and clients. As I tend to engage with all the content I put my hands on, I’ve learned a few things about acoustics. I supplement efforts to help educate prospects and clients on the integrated nature the discipline carries for design collaborations. In more recent years, I’ve been focusing on the younger technical staff in helping them adapt more healthy mindsets to daily challenges and how they can best position themselves as a stronger resource to clients and peers.
- 4. Can you provide some advice for those that are new to the A/E/C industry?
Resist the Velcro-butt syndrome (stuck to your chair) and make it a point to get out of the office to interface with peers and colleagues at least twice a month. It will help keep you fresh and provides an outlet to test new skills and ideas in a “safe” environment. Being ACTIVE in a committee is the best way to leverage your membership dollar. Make it a point to go to a professional development conference once a year – like TME! Do NOT deny yourself this time – you earn it, you deserve it and you will be richly rewarded with knowledge and new connections. Also, be patient. Things move a little slower in the A/E/C realm as it is an industry based on standards, procedures, etc. We get excited and energized by things we read, hear, see and can’t wait to jump in and make a difference – an immediate difference. This enthusiasm, however, can overwhelm the ones we endeavor to serve. Change is hard and it requires baby steps. For those with “long and quick legs”, (like me) it can be very frustrating and lead to burn out and bitterness. Your great ideas may need to be broken up into incremental pieces to allow things to sink in as you move through your great scheme. Accept that work can occasionally be like sailing when there’s no wind. Keep breathing and believing – or as Steve Jobs aptly puts it: Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.
- 5. What are some of your favorite movies and television shows?
I don’t watch much TV but enjoyed the TURN series about George Washington’s spies and I catch This Is Us because I’m intrigued by the way its story unfolds. As far as movies, I always pause and watch The Godfather, Jaws, Pulp Fiction and anything with George Clooney. I also like Meryl Streep and envision her portraying a female character that has been residing in the creative sector of my brain for the past 4 years.
Interview by: Elise Martos, Director of Marketing and Communications for Martos Engineering