Member Spotlight

Andrea Pender, 2019 - 2020 SMPS Dallas President

Director of Business Development
RLG Consulting Engineers

The professional Side

Q: How many years have you been in the industry? Five

Q: Describe your term as SMPS Dallas President in three words. Unexpected/Amazing/Lucky

Q: What were some of the challenges of being president during this time and what were the silver linings?

COVID was the biggest challenge that we faced as a Chapter. Everyone moved quickly to offer virtual programming for our members. I don't think we missed a beat! The silver lining to this is our knowledge of virtual events! We have done several virtual panels and networking events and it could be something that continues forever as an additional event type!

Q: What are you looking forward to? What are you going to miss?

I am looking forward to moving into more of an advisory role for the chapter. I feel like I have a wealth of knowledge and resources that can be shared with everyone. I am also looking forward to finding more potential committee members! I feel like I was able to find the perfect fit for several members on committees last year. I hope to see a growing engagement of our chapter members this year as well.

Q: What advice do you have for new members? Existing members?

GET INVOLVED!!!! If you are new to SMPS -- get involved! If you have been a member for your entire career -- get involved!

I always tell this story: My first year as an SMPS member I attended two events that perfectly aligned with my job description. I learned a lot from the presentation and the people were nice, but I just came and went. A few months later I was asked to consider joining a committee. I was concerned about the time commitment required and asked all kinds of questions. That is when I learned that the committee divided out everything nicely so the responsibilities didn't fall on just one person.

I then started attending EVERY event - even if it didn't have anything to do with my job description! I realized there are always good take away tips and suggestions that can be used from every event. And, more importantly, I started getting to know the other members....who introduced me to other members...and the cycle continues to this day.

The relationships that are built in SMPS can be the backbone of your career. Don't just pay for a membership - get involved!

Q: What have you gained from mentorship in SMPS, whether as mentor or mentee?

I have gained so much from SMPS. I have been involved in the mentor/protege program for several years and have gained an incredible amount of knowledge. It is wonderful knowing that I have a group of people I can reach out to for advice. I have received practical advice to solve problems and on the flip side always discuss the successes from implementing strategies we talked about. Having a mentor is a nice accountability partner for continued professional development. I wouldn't be where I am in my career if it wasn't for my mentors in SMPS.

Q: How has your role as President of SMPS affected you? Your career?

I feel like the role of President has taught me so much. I don't think I realized all of the expectations until it became real! With that said, the board members were amazing and did all of the work! The role really put me in front of many leaders. I was able to advocate for the marketing and BD community and help bring all of their hard work to the forefront.

With my career, it has given a sort of "Subject Matter Expert" layer to my job. Being the President of the organization elevated the importance of SMPS to so many people around me.

Q: What has changed since you started at SMPS? How have you seen it grow? What would you like to see grow in the next year?

SMPS Dallas is always continuing to grow and change every year! Our programs have not stopped! We added virtual events to our calendars this year...and who knows...maybe they will stay!

I hope to see more member engagement - I will always say that! I want all of our members engaged and participating. So many chapters focus on the number of members they have, but the Dallas chapter is trying to drill down to figure out what everyone wants and needs. This is what will get our membership engaged.

Q: Your next venture, Geisler Pender, is a women-run entity of RLG: tell us a little bit more about that!

Geisler Pender Consulting Engineers + RLG just launched at the beginning of September. We are a woman-owned, civil and structural engineering firm. Kristina Geisler-Nordholm, P.E. has an incredible amount of domain knowledge, so it was a no-brainer to partner together. We are completely aligned on the type of company we want to build and we are very excited about the opportunities ahead! Our firm will have a strong people-first focus. We truly believe that the success of the firm is based on the relationships we build, in addition to the high quality of work we will provide.

The Personal Side

Q: What’s your Favorite Restaurant in Dallas? Shoal's in Deep Ellum

Q: Dallas Sports Team? Can I pick a Big Ten team instead? Purdue

Q: Outdoor Activity? Anything outside - hiking, swimming, cycling, reading a book by the pool...

Q: Coffee Shop? Brewed + Pressed

Q: What’s on your bucket list? Hiking Kilimanjaro

Q: What can you not live without? Chapstick