An Interview with Kathleen Gunter

An Interview with Kathleen Gunter,
President of SMPS Nashville

Written by Morgan Pare

Being on the board of directors, I have an exclusive opportunity to get to know some of our industry’s leaders; personally, and professionally. Kathleen Gunter, Senior Marketing Associate for SSR, Inc., is one of those individuals I have established a relationship with, thanks to SMPS.

Since we as board members have the unique opportunity to get to know one another, I thought our SMPS Nashville members should have the same opportunity. After all, this is what SMPS is all about! I sat down with Kathleen and here is what she had to share…


Morgan: What is your favorite part about SMPS?

Kathleen: “To me, SMPS is a support system. It’s knowledge and it’s friendships. It can be scary to jump in and get involved – but once you’ve taken that first step you realize that you have an instant network helping you succeed – it’s very rewarding and fulfilling. The connections I’ve made through this organization have been there to support me, encourage me, and motivate me personally and professionally. When you come into an industry that none of us “went to school for” there is a lot of unknown and unfamiliar – that’s where SMPS has helped guide me, provide growth, and contribute to my firm. Through all of the education opportunities, network of other industry professionals in similar roles, and the endless resources available at the Chapter and Society level – I’ve been able to successfully transition into this career in less than five years. That’s rare to find in any other industry!”


M: If you could have any super power what would it be and why?

K: “Time travel! I love history and learning. How fascinating would it be to travel back in time to meet historical figures and ordinary people alike, to learn their life story, and see the world from a new perspective?! I think time travel would open my eyes to even more personal potential.”


M: As the SMPS President, what is your biggest goal for the year?

K:Flourish! As the A/E/C industry has experienced a boom in Nashville over the past few years, we hope to see this same boom in our local chapter. Today we are working harder, faster, and longer to “flourish” both personally and professionally, which can cause industry burnout, mediocre quality, and less productivity. Our goal this year is to engage, inspire, and reignite the passion we have for our careers by helping our Chapter and our members flourish. This means providing more educational content, inspirational speakers, and opportunities to network and engage with our members.”


M: What food do you have a weakness for or your “have to have” meal?

K: “Asking a pregnant woman what her “have to have” meal is can be dangerous. Ask my husband. At six months pregnant, this can change by the week, day, and even hour. (Sorry honey and thanks for cooking for me!) I’m pretty sure my unborn son will be a health fanatic because this mama-to-be who normally craves all the sweets has craved grilled chicken salads more than any other food. My pre-pregnancy self would have told you my ‘have to have’ meal is turkey, dressing, and sweet potato casserole – clearly, that makes Thanksgiving one of my favorite holidays!”


M: If you could go back to a younger you, what would you tell yourself knowing what you know now?

K: “Be patient. In our fast-moving world, we are always so anxious for what’s next – to get our driver’s license, to go on a first date, to move off to college, to find the perfect job. It’s exhausting when you think about how much time we’ve all spent looking forward to what’s next. As I embark on (my soon-to-be) motherhood for the first time, I’m taking time during this pregnancy to slow down and enjoy the now – the quiet time, the clean house, the one-on-one time with husband. It’s been refreshing to refocus and relax knowing that’s “what’s next” will come whether I’ve planned every detail or not, and then I’ll look back longing to go back to this moment.”


M: As an expert in our industry what do you predict for the future of Nashville?

K: “As the implementation of the proposed transit plan decreases densities along our transit corridors in Nashville, we will continue to see an increase in commercial and retail developments corresponding to the increases in residential densities. Areas such as Gallatin Road, Charlotte Pike, and Nolensville Road will be some of the first corridors to experience new transit and thus increased development. The expected job growth from these developments will also create an increase in residential demand in these perimeter areas. While Nashville has seen a boom in growth over the past five years, the next two years are likely to experience a leveling-off to a more sustainable level of growth – still likely to be much higher than pre-boom growth, possibly even double or more our traditional level of construction and development. All in all, as we continue to see a rise in residents with more than 100 new Nashvillians a day, we will continue to see sustained growth in the A/E/C industry.”


M: If you were a vegetable, what vegetable would you be and why?

K: “Corn. I grew up in Georgia where there are lots of corn fields. I remember driving the back-country roads to visit family and watching the corn fields change with the seasons – my favorite transition being just before harvest when the stalks were tall and swaying in the breeze. I imagined being able to get “lost” in the maze of rows, yet knowing there was a systematic strategic plan for the location of each stalk, the meticulous calculations of the fertilizer in the soil, and the watchful eye of a skilled farmer knowing the exact time to harvest the corn. And then, once harvested this seemingly simplistic vegetable could be utilized in so many ways to provide for our sustained success. And I like popcorn – a lot!”

M: Why is Flourish SMPS’ dedicated theme?

K: “It wasn’t a planned theme – however, after our new Board of Directors did our annual strategic planning retreat, this was the common theme each director/chair had for their plans and vision for SMPS Nashville. Each board member had spent time planning and brainstorming before our retreat and once we all came to the table with our suggestions and ideas, the theme appeared. Much like our city has flourished, our hope is that our chapter, our members, and our industry can flourish with as much success. We’ve dedicated our resources and focus of this theme specifically to education, programs, and membership.”  


Remember to grow your connections, attend upcoming events to keep your ears in community happenings, and flourish.


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