Member Spotlight: Nora Bresnahan

AUTHOR: Jennifer Hasamear, FGM Architects

Tell me about your role with Castle, how long have you been with SMPS and how have you been involved with the organization through the years? 

I’ve been the marketing manager at Castle Contracting since August 2018. We are a subsidiary of McCarthy, where I focused on our federal market for the previous eight years prior to moving to Castle. I’m the first dedicated marketing professional at Castle, so it’s a fun and challenging position as our marketing and business development team creates our role within the company. I’ve been a member of SMPS St. Louis for 14 years. In that time, I’ve served on the Board of Directors in the role of Programs Director a few times, Membership Director, Special Events Director in which I helped chair our 2017 Missouri Valley Regional Conference in St. Louis, President and now Past President! I’ve served on committees for programs, sponsorship, nominations and elections, and past leaders advisory council. I’ve also participated in the Mentorship Program as a mentee and a mentor.

What are your thoughts about stepping in as president this year? What do you think was one of the most outstanding things about this year?

At the beginning of the SMPS year on September 1st, I was President-Elect and by the end of the month, I was President as my predecessor accepted a new career opportunity. It was unexpected, but my focus was to keep the organization moving forward. When I moved into the president role, we had a waterfall effect of vacancies, so I had a few positions to refill on the board. Despite a bit of a hiccup in our momentum at the start, I’m proud of everyone staying on task and getting us through an unconventional year. We provided outstanding client events, a leadership forum series, a coordinator’s club series, and more. I’m proud that during executing our planned tasks, we also had great discussions on how SMPS can explore and improve, planting the seeds for some changes to make sure we are really providing value to members. We decided to move forward with a tool called StarChapter, which will consolidate our website, event management system, and communications tools into one tool. We’ll start implementation this fall along with some other changes that I think our members will appreciate!

What do you think makes this chapter outstanding?  

I think our members’ willingness to help each other and volunteer their time for the greater good of our industry is what makes SMPS St. Louis outstanding. We have many members who have been active for a long time, and they always say yes when you ask for advice or to help with something, despite many years serving on committees or the board. That has given us consistency and longevity. Add in the energy and ideas of new people joining SMPS, and we have a great combination of doers, movers and shakers! We have a diverse membership to serve and we consciously try to do so. Providing value to a new marketing assistant is different than a marketing principal and that is different than business developers. We are known among SMPS nationally as a very strong chapter over the past decade and that is the work of many volunteers.

Since joining the chapter, what do you think has been the biggest changes you’ve seen?  

I joined SMPS in 2015 when I entered the AEC market from another field. Since then, AEC firms have grown their investment in marketing and business development professionals, and I see them in higher level positions within firms. Our AEC firms have become more sophisticated in the strategy we develop to pursue work, the deliverables we create, and the technology we leverage to communicate. The time and effort required to win work increased, social media exploded, and technology changes rapidly. Marketing professionals are expected to stay in the forefront and be experts in everything from proposal development to data analytics, writing, graphic design, video creation, social media, public relations, client development, interview preparation, event management, market/business/strategic planning and the list goes on.

Our list of responsibilities and expertise keeps growing! Amidst all of this, I think SMPS St. Louis has worked to stay in the forefront of these changes, helping to educate our membership and guide them through the ever-evolving industry, grow their careers, and provide value to their firms. As a result, our chapter has grown more sophisticated in how we function, how we plan, and what we offer to our members. SMPS St. Louis continuously evaluates how we are serving our members and how we provide value so the content matter changes from year to year to accommodate trends and our business environment.

When not working, what are some things you love to do?  

I like to check out activities around St. Louis – I’m game for any festival, new restaurant, wine bar or microbrewery with friends and family. I love walking my dog at Forest Park and Tower Grove Park on weekends. I have a book called 50 Hikes Within 50 Miles of St. Louis so I’m trying to get through that – it’s slow going, but I’m determined to make it to all of them! I read a lot, cook a little bit, and practice yoga irregularly! I also love to travel, but that’s the next question…

What is one place on your travel bucket list? And why?  

Just one? Argentina is on my wish list – diverse landscapes and national parks with mountains and ocean, wine country, and I’ve read about cool architecture, art and food scenes in Buenos Aires. My next planned trip is actually a bucket list with my Mom, so we’re going to England and France in fall of 2020. We should make some fun memories!

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