Sara Francini

Associate, Director of Business Development

VW
  • STUDIOS Architecture
  • Member, Professional Development Committee
Known for her dedication and professionalism, March’s member of the month, Sara Francini has proved herself in the A/E/C industry. As Director of Business Development for STUDIOS Architecture, Sara has extended her leadership skills to our SMPS chapter as a member of the Professional Development Committee. Along with other dedicated members, Sara has spearheaded the Leadership lunches, which have had an excellent response and have greatly benefited the attendees. Below Sara has shared with us the value in becoming a good leader along with other thoughts and ideas. Where are you from originally and what brought you to New York City? I was born and raised in New Britain, CT and went to college in Burlington, VT. I spent my junior year studying abroad in Glasgow, Scotland, which really whet my appetite for the urban experience. After college I spent a year working in Boston when the opportunity to live in New York City presented itself. Much to my parents’ dismay I quit my job, loaded up a U-Haul, and headed south with no particular job or plan in store. I bought a tortoiseshell kitten my first month living in Brooklyn; “tortie” cats tend to be strong-willed, fiercely independent, feisty, and unpredictable. I think the purchase was a fine representation of the direction my life was heading at the time. Ultimately, I worked in the pharmaceutical industry for several years here before opting for a more colorful and creative career in marketing and business development.

[expand title=”Read the rest of the article here…”] How has being a member of SMPS influenced your career? I’ve found SMPS to be an excellent source of information and a great outlet for connecting with those in the AEC industry. My relationship with the organization has changed since my early days when, for various reasons, I was more interested in gaining general knowledge of and exposure to the markets than relationship building. As my career has progressed, I find the interactions with my peers most valuable. I have enjoyed getting to know the members on a more personal level through my involvement with various committees and it’s great to have the opportunity to collaborate on efforts that benefit the organization and industry as a whole. In retrospect,I likely would have benefitted from deeper networking at the onset of my career, but I also am a believer that it’s good to go with your gut. My instinct early on was telling me to absorb and keep my mouth shut until I had something of value to contribute (or maybe that was my Italian grandfather’s saying?) so that’s exactly what I did. Much to its credit, I’ve found SMPS to be engaging and supportive every step of the way regardless of my level of participation; that perceived “open door” policy has been incredibly influential in my continued involvement with the organization. Can you describe for us a typical day as the Director of Business Development at STUDIOS? I am fortunate that STUDIOS’ leadership has given me the autonomy to conduct business on the day-to-day as I see fit. That may translate to working on a strategic plan for a specific client type one day and all the various implementation activities (research, outreach, developing materials, meetings, networking events, conferences, CRM, reporting, etc.) the next. I equally enjoy the social, client-facing connections as well as the more heads-down, detail-oriented aspects of the position, which is a bonus given that I am required to wear many hats in a given day. I work alongside an incredibly talented staff here; the structure of our Marketing/BD department compliments our individual strengths and allows us to excel as a team. I have the utmost respect for my colleagues at STUDIOS and I couldn’t be more pleased to be representing the firm.The marketing and promotion of great design is truly a privilege. Can you tell us more about your role in the Professional Development Committee focusing on your involvement with the Leadership lunches? My involvement with the Leadership initiatives and lunches has been of particular enjoyment. I have always found “Leadership” to be a heavy, intimidating, and — quite frankly – a fuzzy topic and I think it’s wonderful there is so much interest from SMPS members in exploring such a complex concept. We’ve had a great response to the lunches and events thus far and I personally learn something new at each one I attend. Not only have I seen my peers’ confidence levels grow through participation in and development of quality programming, but I also see that a deeper level of trust and understanding has been forged amongst the members that participate which is rare in the workplace. Our roles as Business Developers and Marketers – although considered at times social and outward facing roles by many – can be quite isolating. The Leadership lunches and events provide a way to explore your personal journey alongside those just like you. It’s quite an empowering experience. Describe your perfect Saturday? The Business Development role is quite demanding and I often find myself out on weeknights; weekends are really the time for me to regroup and recharge. Whether the weekend is unplanned or fully scheduled, I find no shortage of things to do. The “perfect Saturday” starts off leisurely. My living room gets great morning light and you can often hear the sounds of the park and the tennis and basketball courts across the street. I find something incredibly relaxing about that; I think it allows me to feel connected to others and the outdoors without having to actually go anywhere. A simple stroll around my neighborhood, wandering through Hester Street Fair, and taking photographs of Chinatown are activities typically in the cards. Running and soccer are also good options for a great day. [/expand]