What We Know Now: Connie Calmes
We’re always eager to learn something new here at Hanson, which is why one of our core values is “stay curious.” Because of this mantra, we’ve held an ongoing series talking to fellow Hansonites about the words of wisdom they might today give to their past selves. So far, we’ve interviewed Video Production Specialist Ben Eddings, Account Director Sue Woten-Schultz, Connection Strategist Chris Kujawski, Senior Account Manager Amy Shrewsbery, and Director of Front End Development Dave Rodriguez. Today, we’re talking to Senior Account Manager Connie Calmes.
Sally: Did you always know you wanted to work in client services? If not, how did you get interested in the field?
Connie: Actually, I feel like I have always worked in client services. My early career was as a fundraising and marketing manager for a local arts organization. Donors and patrons were my clients back then—nearly 1,000 clients! Stewardship played an important role in my non-profit career. Those that are giving of their time and treasure should be made to feel valuable to an organization. I took great pride in treating each member as if they were my only “client.”
After 20 years of service, I decided I wanted to test the waters outside of the non-profit world. When I was presented the opportunity to work in client services for Hanson, I approached the endeavor as if I was just changing one art form for another, and I would again make each client feel that they were my only client. I found that my rationale was only a little bit accurate and I had a lot to learn.
Sally: What’s something that surprised you when you first started in client services?
Connie: I was surprised by how quickly you need to be able to turn on a dime and focus on something completely different, from one minute to the next. I was no longer engaged with a group of people with the same “interests.” My clients were/are very diverse; as much as I need to know the banking industry, I also need to know about higher education, cabinetry, and e-commerce.
Sally: Is there anything you know now that you wish you’d known at the start of your career?
Connie: Yes! I wish I knew how much technology was going to play a role. Before I started at Hanson, I was the owner of a VCR (yes, VCR) that continually blinked 12:00. I quickly submerged myself in the digital media age that, luckily, had not totally passed me by. You are only as good as the knowledge you have of your “product” and your client.
Sally: What advice would you give to someone going into client services?
Connie: When I first started my professional career, I was eager to please and impress. I wanted to be the best. You quickly learn that it’s not the quantity, but the quality of your work. You need to take your time to assess each project, obstacle or whatever it may be. Don’t be reactionary: ain’t nobody got time for that.
Sally: That’s great advice! Is there anything else you would like to add?
Connie: I have one more piece of advice: learn the art of negotiation. Your job is to not only make your clients happy, but your team happy. And with each project, you will be tested as to who gets what they want and/or need. With a positive attitude and clear communication—and always with a smile on your face —you can help ensure that everyone feels they have “won.”
Sally: Thank you for sharing, Connie! Stay tuned for more career reflections from other members of our team.