Posted

Monday, January 23, 2023
Team Member Spotlight

Q+A with Shanda Hanson

Senior Marketing Coordinator, Fully Remote (Minnesota)

How do you describe your job to people outside of the industry?

I help architects and engineers get new work by telling their stories and making them look good. It’s a highly responsive and deadline-oriented job, often catering to the potential client’s needs and wants.

Why did you decide to become a marketing coordinator?

I went to school for marketing and my first job out of school was for a sports architecture firm in Denver, Colorado. It was fascinating to be behind the scenes and part of a small team that designed such expansive facilities. And the rest is history…sort of. I had stints at an advertising agency and in the non-profit world, but those engagements were short lived. I kept coming back to the A/E/C industry.

How would you describe life at Ghafari as a fully remote employee?

I think it’s proof of Ghafari’s ability to adapt and be progressive. When I started my first marketing position in the industry, I was spray mounting plotted boards to foam core for interviews, creating hard brochures, and punching and binding paper copies for proposal submissions. But that’s not how we submit our qualifications anymore; I would guess 95% of what we create in marketing stays electronic, so it makes sense that my position can be done from anywhere. This fact coupled with the way Ghafari’s marketing group is structured supports this idea.

We can support our design teams internationally and on an as-needed basis regardless of which office is requesting our support or where our individual team members are sitting for the day. Not every firm works this way and from what I’ve seen, it’s an advantageous approach for our group in serving both our internal and external clients.

Have you had the opportunity to work at any of our office locations?

I spent some time at the Grand Rapids office, in large part to help with the coordination of their new office celebration and ribbon cutting. It was nice to get to know people in person and to have a chance to see this great new space!

How do you feel connected with Ghafari’s culture and your teammates?

Ghafari’s culture is through its great people! Because of the nature of my position, I’m in contact with many principals and project managers and I have a large group of “buddies” I meet with monthly to continually improve our database, materials, and general marketing needs. Now that video meetings are just a normal part of the workday, it is very much like being in the office with others, minus the mute button.

I also have a wonderful team of peers. We have a very active marketing Teams chat. It’s been great to converse on a more personal level through this.

One surprising perspective regarding being fully remote is that although we all come with some internal bias, in a remote setting, these biases fall to the back, are harder to recognize, and there’s more immediate focus on the shared goal for which we are meeting. I see that as a unique benefit to being remote and in staying focused on what matters.

What is the most exciting thing that has happened during your time here?

November! I had a busy November with Ghafari. First, I got to visit the Grand Rapids office and help them celebrate the official grand opening of their new space. I finally met Nicole [Ghafari] and Kouhaila [Hammer] in person!

Then I was able to attend the Deltek national convention for days of seminars on Vantagepoint. As a heavy user of Vision, I am really excited about what Vantagepoint can do to help Ghafari’s project information database and customer relationship management system. Once in full use, it will be so beneficial to the entire firm to have one source of truth regarding our project stats and data.

What is a key idea or lesson you have learned while working at Ghafari?

I think the ease with which Ghafari works internationally is impressive. I know there are plenty of hurdles that I don’t experience, but the general attitude to take on new challenges in different countries with different cultures is refreshing.

How do you like to spend your free time?

I like to spend time with my family. I have a husband, a four-year-old, and a seven-year-old who keep me busy. It’s fun to see them try new activities and get excited about things. In the summer, we like to take out our little pop-up camper for some fresh air, to swim in the many Minnesota lakes, and have s’mores around a fire. I also love the holidays. If you surprise me with a Teams call, you may find me listening to Christmas music in July.