- Member, SMPS-NY
- Public Relations Committee
Demonstrating value to your firm successfully is often one of the goals in our profession. Sarah Nolan Hoff, Principal, Cerami & Associates revealed her journey from coordinator to principal at the latest SMPS NY Coordinator’s Club, and offered some excellent advice to the coordinators and managers in the room. Sarah’s session was moderated by Carrie Villani, Director of Marketing, Leslie E. Robertson Associates, who asked specific questions about how Sarah got to where she is, what her goals were along the way and what advice she has for those who are upwardly mobile.
With a strong background in the advertising industry, Sarah led us through her experience at multiple A/E/C firms, sharing lessons learned at each level along the way. When asked what one of the challenges she would share from her experience, Sarah replied that it was often learning what exactly each respective firm does.
Too often when we are placed in firms where the technical expertise can be complicated it can be difficult to sell what the firm does. Sarah shared that by asking tons of questions, almost to the point of being obnoxious, we would be able to effectively communicate the value our firms. In addition, sharing this information with anyone new to the firm can help save valuable time up front in the sales and lead-finding process.
But perhaps the greatest lesson Sarah learned in her journey, and one of the keys to finding success as a principal, was to build a professional network.
“Everyone has to get out and meet people,” Sarah said. “SMPS is a great place to start, but you have to go beyond that. Have lunch with or call your RFP sources, get involved at local events through speaking engagements – get to know the other panelists. The perspective of someone different can be a very valuable tool down the road.”
But building that network shouldn’t stop outside the firm – you should also look within. Having champions, or those that will back you up, in Sarah’s case, a partner, can really help you understand your value. Sarah noted that by having that close working relationship with a partner at Cerami & Associates, she was able to advocate for herself with some backup and become the leader she wanted to be.
Other key pieces of advice Sarah shared were:
- Find a firm that believes in your value – that’s the place you should stick with. A great way to do this is to ask plenty of questions during the interview process.
- Be tenacious and learn everything you can. Being a doer often turns into being a leader.
- As a manager, ensure your junior staff is set up for success by ensuring everyone (even technical staff!) is on track with a development program.
Coordinator to Principal – A Success Story was held at the offices of Leslie E. Robertson Associates (LERA), this session of Coordinators Club was AIA CES accredited. To view photos from the event click here