Contributed by Lauren Anderson
(Editor's Note: Fellowship is the second highest honor that CSI bestows, recognizing outstanding individuals by elevating members whose efforts on behalf of the Institute's purposes and principles have been exemplary. The qualifications for Fellowship require achievement above and beyond participating in ordinary Institute, region, and chapter events or performing normal duties as an Institute officer. A nominee for Fellowship must have been a member in good standing with the Institute for not less than five years, and have made important contributions in one or more of four categories: advancement of construction technology; improvement of construction specifications; education; or service. The following address was given the morning after the 2017 Investiture of Fellows at a breakfast, where Fellows are encouraged to attend this annual session to address the business issues of the College of Fellows.)
Thank you for having me this morning at the Fellows breakfast. I am honored and humbled to have been asked to speak on behalf of Young Professionals across the country to some of the most esteemed members of CSI. First, I’d just like to personally thank Cherise Lakeside for thinking of me for this presentation. I’d also like to thank Rick Lueb for his guidance and finally, thank the College of Fellows for being supportive of young people all over our organization so we can write the next chapter of CSI history.
Congratulations to the newly inducted Fellows! I hope you enjoyed last night’s awards ceremony and festivities celebrating your incredible accomplishments over many years. Your commitment to CSI is inspiring, and lays the foundation for a stronger association going forward.
Many of you may know me from Twitter, or I might know you by way of Middle Atlantic Region events, but I’d like to start by briefly giving you my background. I am a 2009 graduate of Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia. I was on the five-year plan – which I don’t recommend if you want to keep costs down! My time at Marymount was wonderful, but when I ventured off to college at 17, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I bobbed between political science and accounting, finally landing on business management. I felt the pressure of the 2008 economic downturn and felt that if I were to choose something “too specific”, I may not have a job right away out of school. A general business degree felt safe. After interviewing with several Northern Virginia companies for positions I wasn’t overly interested in, I approached my Dad, Paul Conners, one day to discuss the possibility of working for him for a while after graduation to get my feet wet in sales. He graciously offered me an opportunity to work the Richmond/Tidewater market. The following day after graduation, I started visiting with glazing contractors – “thrown to the wolves” if you will. No real training, just brochures in hand visiting new accounts. I’m grateful to this day that the COO of a large contractor glazier in Richmond, recognized my inexperience right away and offered to show me the ropes so I could learn about my products, but better, how I could service glazing contractors as a sales rep. Eventually, my territory expanded to D.C. and I was asked to visit with architects. I knew I wasn’t there to sell products, but I couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to do with this new role. I promptly joined CSI at the suggestion of a specifier, Robert Tarasovich. More on that next. Six years, one CDT and now President of my chapter, I am only beginning the journey of a lifelong affair with CSI.
Contributed by Lauren Anderson
I am not even sure where to begin recapping CONSTRUCT 2017.
What I will start with is my experience from last year in Austin, Texas, as I had never attended a conference for my job until that CONSTRUCT. As a product rep, this conference is the only one specifically tailored toward my profession within the AEC industry. As I was concerned about keeping costs down in ‘16, I registered as a Young Professional, and chose not to add on the Welcome Reception or walking tour. Fear drove my decision making as I didn’t know very many people attending at all. Instead of taking advantage of this opportunity, I squandered it by skipping the afternoon sessions of Young Professionals (YP) Day, the Welcome Reception, CSI Night Out and the YP mixer. I made a lot of excuses out of being nervous and fearful to network alone. After Austin & CONSTRUCT, I left sort of deflated. I learned some, but didn’t network well and I completely missed the point.
A few weeks after I returned from Austin, I joined Twitter. I started connecting with some fellow CSI folks and industry professionals at all levels. Over the course of the last year, Twitter has changed my professional life. I’ve learned so much – more than I can recap here – so I signed up for 2017’s CONSTRUCT with a fresh perspective. I was so excited that I even asked two of our company’s newest reps to join me. I promptly paid extra for the Welcome Reception and snagged a seat at YP Day – a must-do. If you’re reading this, don’t miss out because of fear. Sign up for everything and connect ahead of time as much as you can with fellow attendees!
After arriving a day early into Providence this year, there was a welcome reception at Union Station Brewery across from my hotel that was geared for first time attendees. I emailed ahead to RSVP alongside my two colleagues, but realized later that it had opened over time to all attendees who arrived ahead of the official conference start. The reception was a blast. Great food, delicious locally brewed beers and I got to meet new people ahead of Wednesday’s sessions.
Wednesday started bright and early with YP Day – a special set of sessions started three years ago -- by Cherise Lakeside to specifically focus on mentoring, networking and knowledge for young professionals 35 and under. YP Day offered breakfast, almost an hour of networking time & then we dove right into introductions and learning. LeeAnn Slattery started us out with constructive tips for being a conference “sponge”. Following that, CSI Fellow Casey Robb demonstrated how to become an effective networker – something all people can benefit from in the early part of their careers. He offered specific tips and gave us a book recommendation, ‘Network like an Introvert’.
Contributed by Eric D. Lussier
National events, tradeshows and organizations are filled with attendees, members, associates and numbers. Names and faces can be lost in the crowd. People come, people go. They attend one year, perhaps skip the next.
How many functions are a must attend for you? Perhaps your annual family reunion? Greenbuild? That friend’s party that comes along every Summer? Inbound? I can name just one for me: CONSTRUCT. The Construction Specifications Institute’s annual meeting and tradeshow, which is being held this year in Providence from September 13 - 15. www.CONSTRUCTshow.com
Since attending my first CONSTRUCT in Philadelphia in 2010, I’ve blocked out one week per September to ensure that I will make it to my must attend event. While the show itself moves from city to city each year (2011 in Chicago, 2012 was in Phoenix, 2013 was Music City – Nashville, 2015 was St. Louis and 2016 was Austin), the people themselves remain constant.
Coming from all walks of life in the construction industry – including specifiers, architects, engineers, contractors, facility managers, product representatives, manufacturers, owners and others – most attendees of CONSTRUCT are attracted for the education (which can be acquired both in a classroom setting and the tradeshow floor), while chances are the rest are there for the people.
An AEC family reunion of sorts, friends from across the United States and our ‘neighbours’ to the North, come together for the camaraderie that is CSI. No matter the walk of life, all members of CSI hold an equal seat at the table. This is evident from watching people interact at CONSTRUCT. Architects sharing hugs with product representatives, handshakes exchanged by engineers and specifiers, cordial smiles between manufacturers and owners. Your background and profession really doesn’t matter within CSI and at CONSTRUCT.
I’ve been fortunate enough to witness this firsthand now 7 years over. While the admission for CONSTRUCT is worth every cent for the education and events alone, the real value is in the relationships and the people you meet and connect with. Whether you share a cab, a class, a lunch table or a dinner, it is easy to meet a stranger that has the immediate potential of becoming a lifelong friend. CSI has done wonders for my career over the last five and a half years, while introducing me to some of the friendliest, personable and most intelligent friends I know.
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