Member Spotlight: Paula Riveros

Name: Paula Riveros, M.S.

Title: Business Development Manager

Firm: Gartek Engineering Corporation

SMPS Chapter: South Florida

Number of years in the A/E/C industry: New to industry

Why did you join SMPS? My boss, the owner of Gartek engineering, asked me to join because he felt an SMPS’s membership would be an effective networking tool and would help to  enhance my professional scope. The previous Manager of Business Development introduced him to SMPS and being the smart man that he is, he quickly had me join.  I transitioned to the engineering field from the housing industry and my knowledge of Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing and Fire Protection engineering was rudimentary, so the goal in joining was to expand my skill sets and broaden my knowledge base as well as develop a support network in the A/E/C field and other related industries through the networking opportunities and educational events offered by SMPS. Plus, he stated that the food at the luncheons didn’t disappoint. He was undoubtedly correct about all the merits of joining.

What is the most important thing you’ve gained from joining SMPS?  An outstanding support system. I have grown exponentially, both professionally and personally, since joining. SMPS offers members the opportunity to grow in various ways; for instance, I was recently asked to assist in one of the committees and also to host a learning event. I am always glad to help whenever is possible, but my free time like that of most working moms is not extensive and I was not sure if I could work these commitments into my schedule. Fellow SMPS members made it super easy for me to share time and skills.

What excites you about your work and the contribution you make? What excites me is when we are awarded a project and knowing I was a contributor for it. Also finding successful leads for our company.

How did you get into the A/E/C industry? Destiny.  A new company took over at my previous place of employment, and when they brought their own management team, my employer offered me relocation to their headquarters. I was not keen on the idea of uprooting my family in the middle of the school year to a place where I had no support system. I explained this to my supervisor and he kindly offered a plan B, the option of a severance package. I opted for plan B and decided to take time off to figure out what I wanted to do. During this period of soul searching, Gartek’s Project Administrator went on vacation and their bookkeeper, whom I personally know, called to ask if I could lend a hand for a week. A week turned into weeks and weeks into months and I knew this was where I wanted to be.

What excites you about your work and the contribution you make? Connecting with people, the opportunity to be creative and use my given talents and abilities without boundaries. I believe in what I do and working with colleagues who also believe in the importance of quality and trustworthiness is invigorating and motivates me to pursue higher goals. Having the opportunity to develop long-term relationships that drive projects forward and benefit all who are involved is truly rewarding.

What is one thing that might surprise people to know about you? Because I grew up in Latin America, it always surprises people to learn that I am in love with Blue Grass music. I find it beautiful because of its transparency and seeming simplicity.  The first time I heard Shady grove by James Alan Shelton & Tim Stafford, it clicked, and I was hooked.

If you could learn anything what would it be? I’d like to learn to sail. I think of people who sail as zesty self-starters and sailing as synonymous with freedom and adventure. I envision open waters and the possibilities are endless.

What is the last book (or newspaper, magazine) you read? Marketer. Yes, it’s true. I read it from cover to cover and sometimes re-read it. As I mentioned previously, I have been in this industry a short time and the learning curve has been steep. On a past issue there was an interview of a business developer who, like me, came from the education field before joining the business world. I really identified with him because we both embarked on similar adventures and his sense of purpose and contentment with the work he does really came through on the article. We navigate life through many roads and paths, some are carefully planned, others seem to pop-up out of nowhere, but I think that the latter were there all along waiting for us to be ready to walk, leap or run on.

What is your favorite book or movie and why? Gravity. The storyline is highly relatable and the special effects are outstanding. While it’s unlikely that any of us will be in outer space, let alone piloting a space ship and dealing with an outer space collision, life presents all of us with challenges that often extend our nature beyond what we would have on our own.

When you were little, who was your favorite superhero and why? Diana Prince. While she has super powers and mad fighting skills, she always relies on her brain and principles to deal with the bad guys and championing to unlock our humanity. There’s an episode where a reporter is so driven to find out her identity that he has a breakdown and ends up in a mental hospital. Diana Prince brings him back to sanity by secretly gifting him with her identity. She relates to people with compassion while remaining true to herself. That, plus the awesome red boots made Wonder Woman my favorite super heroine of all time.

How do you enjoy your free time? I put on my dance shoes and enjoy Salsa, Bachata, and Cha-cha at the studio or whatever style of music comes up on my playlist at home; go to the beach often for my dose of vitamin D and relaxation, and play LIFE with my daughters; I think it’s their favorite board game because they always get to their desired destination before me.

Return to list