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The Value of Investing In YOU. Pinnacle+ Scholarship Now Open — by Liz Wasson Coleman

You’ll never know if you don’t try, and you can’t win if you don’t apply!

It’s that time again – SMPS Seattle is preparing to award two registrations to the upcoming virtual through our annual Pinnacle Experience Scholarship! I was extremely fortunate to receive this scholarship in 2019 and the education I received at Pinnacle allowed me to invest in myself as a marketer in a way I never had before.

I don’t know about you, but I haven’t always felt comfortable asking my employers to pay for my continuing education. As marketers and business developers, we are considered “overhead” in the professional services industry, meaning our salaries always come out of profits. At times it can be difficult to feel justified in asking for additional financial support when we’re not the ones producing billable hours. But why are some of us so quick to minimize the value of our contributions? Why are we less deserving of investments in our education? I think it’s time to challenge that mindset.

Last summer I was in my new role at Johnston Architects (JA) – the first full-time Marketing Director in their 30-year history. I knew they were taking a chance on me, investing in their firm in a way they never had before. Though they were immediately supportive of my involvement in SMPS Seattle, I didn’t feel comfortable asking leadership to pay for me to attend a national conference just yet. When the Pinnacle Experience scholarship was announced I took a chance and applied.

Responding to the scholarship application questions pushed me to better define my role at JA and put into words what firm leadership was expecting of me. The application process also helped me reflect on my 15 years of experience in the industry, my varied roles at A/E/C firms, and how my diverse background had prepared me for this new opportunity. Completing the application left me feeling accomplished and reminded me of the value I bring to my firm every day.

Learning I had been selected for the scholarship was a huge surprise! But emailing firm leadership to let them know I had won a scholarship – and asking for time off to attend this conference – was a moment I won’t forget. It was an opportunity for me to show them that their investment in me as their new Marketing Director was a smart one, and that SMPS Seattle believed in investing in me too.

For three days, I was surrounded by 100 other senior marketers from all over the country. We heard from marketing and communication leaders in a broad range of industries and I quickly filled up a notebook with a flurry of bullet points and thought-provoking tidbits. While I fought back mental fatigue, I also felt overwhelming gratitude for the opportunity to learn from so many brilliant presenters. By the end of the event I was practically buzzing, inspired to apply at least a sliver of what I had learned in my future marketing endeavors.

I have no doubt that Pinnacle+ is going to provide its attendees with invaluable guidance around the importance of embracing our industry’s only constant – change. During these challenging times it may feel like a luxury to invest in ourselves and our professional development. But that is exactly what we as marketers need to thrive. I encourage you to take a little time for yourself and Offer yourself a chance to shine and give SMPS Seattle’s leadership an opportunity to help you shine too.

Liz Wasson Coleman is the Marketing Director at Johnston Architects, which offers full-service architecture, interior design, and master planning services. She has held operations, marketing, and business development roles in Northwest A/E/C firms since 2004. Liz served as SMPS Seattle Director of Membership 2019-2020 and is our chapter’s incoming President-Elect.     




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