AUTHOR: Jennifer Hasamear, Cole & Associates, Inc.
Julia Pluff is responsible for Business Development and Recruiting for BRiC Partnership, an engineering firm with offices located in Belleville, Illinois; Evansville, Indiana; Springfield, Illinois; and Kirkwood, Missouri. BRiC specializes in the design of mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fire protection and IT building systems. Julia is also the SMPS St. Louis Membership Director this year.
You have been attending SMPS St. Louis events for many years as a nonmember. When did you start coming? And do you remember what your first event was?
The first SMPS event I attended was a program on Social Media in 2010 if I remember correctly.
Since this is your first year as a member, what made you change your mind and finally become a member of SMPS St. Louis?
Well, I’d been actively involved for over six years and was actually on the Programs Committee, so I think it was about time! Seriously though, BRiC expanded from one location to four in the space of a couple years—which meant the number of potential clients and teaming partners I had to reach expanded significantly as well. In the interest of simple efficiency, I had to belong to organizations that offered broad networking opportunities and programs that allowed me access to the information and people I needed to do my job. SMPS fit that description very well. It is filled with professionals who are happy to meet and share information and the programs are full of opportunities for connecting with the right people.
Can you recall who was your first SMPS ‘friend’ when you started coming to events?
I think one of the first people I met was Leah Dugan with HOK. Michelle Yates and Carie Dunn have also been constants since I started attending meetings.
What are the advantages of being an active member of the organization?
The organization’s networking and information. The right people and the right information are available at every event. Being actively involved means you form those relationships that allow you to more effectively do your job. Your familiarity with the players in the AEC market expands with each contact—both on the client side and for teaming purposes.
When and how did you get your start in the AEC industry?
Business Development at BRiC Partnership is my first (and only) job in the AEC industry. I knew someone who worked at BRiC and expressed interest in being their BD person when that position became available.
What would be your advice to those just starting out in the industry?
Join SMPS, of course! And talk to everyone, everywhere, all the time. Just start the conversation, ask questions, pay attention to the answers. You will build a network and knowledge base in no time.
What would be your “dream job?”