On July 15, Gresham Smith received the Employer Award from the International Association of Administrative Professionals. The firm was recognized for its commitment to maximizing the full potential of their 35 administrative professionals, while also providing opportunities for career growth and advancement.
A Senior Administrative Assistant in the firm’s Tampa office, Cheryl Sharp has been with Gresham Smith for eight years. Originally hired to provide administrative support for one project at Tampa International Airport, Cheryl now supports the 90-person Tampa office and the Healthcare, Aviation and Corporate + Urban Design markets.
We recently sat down with Cheryl to learn about her career journey and how Gresham Smith has supported her professional growth and development.
Q: What brought you to Gresham Smith?
Cheryl: I was interested in returning to an administrative role in the architecture and engineering industry where I could see how the work I supported impacted the community. I wanted to be able to drive down the street and say, “Wow! I was part of that!” The moment I stepped into Gresham Smith’s Tampa office, I knew it was going to be home for me.
When I started my career at the firm, the Tampa office only had 35 employees. Our office has really grown since then–so much that my seating location has moved multiple times! While that might sound like a headache, it’s actually afforded me the opportunity to interact with even more people who inspire and amaze me every day. When I welcome new team members, at some point I hear myself telling them: I hope you love Gresham Smith as much as I do. It’s a wonderful place to be!
Q: What has kept you at the firm for so long?
Cheryl: It’s been refreshing to be seen as a valued team member. Speaking from experiences with past employers, it wasn’t uncommon to be sold on wonderful benefits during the interview process, only to be told once I was hired that those benefits weren’t available for support staff. That’s not the case at Gresham Smith; the firm values every person in every role. We are encouraged to continuously learn and grow to learn, participate in activities and committees, and engage with the project teams. I’m motivated to do my best every day because I know this firm puts their employees first, and that has a bearing on how we can positively impact one another as well as the clients we serve.
“When I welcome new team members, at some point I hear myself telling them: I hope you love Gresham Smith as much as I do. It’s a wonderful place to be!”
Q: What’s your favorite part of your role as an administrative professional?
Cheryl: To be honest, I love everything about being a multi-market administrative professional! I enjoy being able to interact with so many different people across almost all of the firm’s markets and supporting them in their roles is very rewarding. We strive to give all our clients the best experience possible, and my role plays a significant part in that experience.
Q: You are a Certified Administrative Professional, and you also have your Organizational Management certificate. Why did you pursue these, and what do they mean to you?
Cheryl: I pursued these certifications because I want to continue to advance in my career and be the best administrative professional that I can be. Both certifications were supported by Gresham Smith, which I am extremely grateful for.
My Certified Administrative professional training has helped me keep my skills and knowledge current, and my Organizational Management certificate has helped me develop new processes and procedures to benefit the firm. For example, just before COVID started, I noticed that only a few people were speaking on our regularly scheduled calls with all of the firm’s administrative assistants. I discussed this with our firmwide administrative services leader and said, “I think we have an issue. We’re trying to build a community with our administrative team and get everyone working together, but I don’t think this can happen with so few participating.” I worked to establish smaller sub-groups based on market, and and each group met to get to know each other, build relationships and develop networks. My Organizational Management certification really allowed me to look at the small group scenarios, and provided me the tools to rework the concept to lead meetings, adjust the tasks assigned, and see the small groups flourish. It was encouraging to receive positive feedback, and several people reached out and thanked me because I showcased that there are resources and people–even in other offices–that can offer help.
Q: What other firm initiatives are you involved with?
Cheryl: I’m part of our Tampa office’s social committee, which helps organize our annual firmwide Celebration event watch party, our off-site local Celebration event, our holiday party and other social events. I’m also involved in two Gresham Smith Employee Resource Networks (ERNs): our IMAGE (Inclusive Multiculturalism for Advancement, Growth and Equity) ERN and our Women’s ERN. I really enjoy helping groups organize and prepare, as well as helping identify opportunities for cross-collaboration.
Q: What are your career goals for this year?
Cheryl: One of my goals for this year was to become a supervisor. Now that I’ve achieved that goal, I want to learn how to be a great supervisor. How can I invest in someone else, and continue to invest in them to make sure they succeed? I have a passion for helping train our younger administrative staff, as well as helping with the onboarding process to make them feel welcome, comfortable and supported by an entire team of administrative professionals cheering them on to their success. In 2023, I plan on attending the International Association of Administrative Professional’s Foundations of Leadership Program so I can continue to focus on my leadership skills.