Kirsten Papagni, CPSM, Director of Marketing
Columbia Construction Company
Kirsten Papagni’s career of A/E/C Professional Services spans more than 20 years and includes recognition as one of Boston’s 2013 Certified Professional Services Marketers (CPSM). There’s no doubt that Kirsten knows the ins and outs of the industry. Currently the Director of Marketing, Kirsten is moving into her seventh year at Columbia Construction Company. As an SMPS member in years past, Kirsten used to call upon fellow members as a professional resource and encourages newer marketers to reach out and do the same. Back to basics, Kirsten has returned to SMPS with a lot to offer our Chapter - starting with this interview.
What was your path to finding a career in A/E/C marketing?
My undergraduate degree was a BFA from the University of Connecticut (UConn), with additional studies at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt). As a hobby artist with an interest in interior design - I loved to learn. Without ‘career student’ being a recognized option though, I made my start in freelancing. Still interested in design, and looking for a more focused career, I took inspiration from my father who is an engineer. He’s a role model of mine, so I eventually traded my freelance shoes in for a 9-5 job at a local engineering firm. I fell into A/E/C marketing at that point and have been with it ever since.
What about this career path has kept you engaged?
I like the fact that our roles in this industry are so fluid. It’s always interesting and offers a good challenge. That’s all I can ask for in a career!
CPSM: Why pursue it when you’ve got the experience?
At one point in my career I was the only marketer in my firm. During that time I had to learn by doing and reach out to other SMPS members when I needed a peer to learn from. Though I’ve had a lot of practice, I will say to anyone interested that whether you’re 5 years or 25 years in, there is something to be gained from it all. It seemed like a lot of work at first, but it has been well worth it. The learning experience reemphasizes everything you’re doing right, gives you a perspective for improvement, and teaches best practices. It’s definitely a reaffirming process.
As a returning SMPS Member, what event(s) have you attended recently?
I’ve recently enjoyed SMPS’s Lunchtime Learning Labs. They are a members-only education series – which are free and help me keep up on CPSM credits!
Hilary Nieukirk, CPSM, Senior Marketing Specialist
Shawmut Design and Construction
A recent recipient of her CPSM Certification, Hilary is a 1-year veteran of SMPS and a seasoned professional services marketer of 10 years. Hilary is an advocate of the CPSM Certification and is involved in the CPSM study group, where she recently led the study session for Domain 4 - SOQ/ Proposals. She’s found the experience to be validating both professionally and personally.
"The CPSM Certification was a great way for me to check in on my skills. I’ve been doing this for long enough now, but to validate my understanding of our roles and best industry practices that I already did day-to-day was invaluable. I had only waited so long because of the time commitment unfortunately. Luckily though, since I moved to my current position, I’ve had the support of a marketing team and the encouragement from my firm to pursue certification. So I couldn’t pass up the chance to commit the time and just do it. I’m so glad I did. It was also a chance for me to better understand area of A/E/C Marketing that I haven’t had a lot of exposure to in my past roles.”
What's rocking your work world today?
Lean construction, communicating what it is, asking ourselves ‘do we do that’ (For the record, we have been doing it, but it had never been a buzzword like it is now). So now we’re tasked with identifying this experience more clearly both retroactively and going forward.
What one factor or facet of our work do you like the least?
I spent two years working in Washington D.C. for a firm that pursued a lot of federal work. The form work was an incredibly challenging process because of the hoops applicants are asked to jump through.
What characteristic do you value the most in your coworkers?
Being open to opinions and able to both take and provide constructive criticism are the most important day-to-day qualities that I appreciate. We’re all on the same team, so for me working together on a deliverable and being able to have an open dialogue is the best way to get quality information together.
Now for the wildcards! What's the one thing, you can't live without?
Books – with an hour commute home I get a lot of reading done.
What are some of your recent or favorite reads?
Last year I challenged myself to read books that were new to me, rather than relying on old favorites. My final count was 148, and at the top of the list was The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach. I was not expecting to like it, as the two main themes are college baseball and Moby Dick (which doesn’t rank on my favorite books list), but I was completely engrossed and recommend it highly.
If you could have an endless supply of any food, what would you get?
I actually really love Indian food. A few years back I took a cooking class specifically for Indian cuisine. We learned how to shop for the meals and prep the food appropriately. Building up the layers of the flavor palette gave me a whole new appreciation for its complexity.
Where was your most recent vacation?
Napa Valley, California with family. Great wine, amazing food, and the sun. It was amazing to have a break from New England.
Frank Monkiewicz, Owner
Frank Monkiewicz Photography
Photograph on right taken by: Jeff Dunn
Frank has been a member of SMPS for three months and an in kind sponsor for seven years. He is a professional photographer and has been attending and photographing SMPS social events and the ROC awards for years. Frank shares, "The people are wonderful and so camera friendly! I can't tell you how easy it makes my job." His primary goals are to further his relationships with members, make new friends and hopefully have them as clients too.
What is the weirdest thing you have ever eaten?
Probably 100 year old eggs which are very tasty! Sort of like jello that is getting hard....
What's the one thing, you can't live without?
My loving and caring wife of course. After that its tennis, traveling and taking photographs of everything I see!
What's your motto in life?
"Never for me the lowered banner, never the last endeavor"- Ernest Shackleton- explorer
What's your favorite thing to do in the fall?
I enjoy alpine hiking in the White Mountains.
What's rocking your work world today?
Everything! Life evolves and changes and I go with it with vigor.
What's your favorite material object that you already own?
I have a framed signed aerial view photograph (by the late Bradford Washburn) of the West Buttress of Mt. McKinley (Denali) that I can't live without. Its my favorite photo of all time!
What would we find playing on your radio in your car or on your ipod?
Each month, SMPS Boston spotlights a different member of the chapter on the home page. The corresponding mini-profile (a short interview with the member) will join the previous two on this page, remaining visible here for three months before being archived.
If you'd like to suggest someone for inclusion in this feature, please contact the Communications Director.
For further reading about chapter members, visit the Board of Directors page and click on the Information button in each person's section!