As a design manager with Haskell’s Consumer Packaged Goods Group, Jennifer Suharmadji May is an accomplished architect who has significantly influenced the design industry, working with some of the world’s best-known brands.
As a member of the Jacksonville, Florida, community, she is a tireless volunteer, acting in roles from officer to board member to mentor.
May has served as president of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Jacksonville, First Coast Rotaract, Mandarin Toastmasters. In addition, she has functioned as an adjunct professor with Jacksonville University, maintained active leadership with the Junior League of Jacksonville and a mentor with ACE Mentoring, United Way’s Reading Pals and Communities in Schools Achievers for Life program.
Now she’s a new mom!
This spring, her professional accomplishments and unwavering community service recently earned her recognition as a member of the Jacksonville Business Journal’s 40 Under 40. It also begged one huge question, “How in the world does she do it all?”
Well, May made time (of course) to visit with Haskell.com about what obviously is one of her most extraordinary skills: Time management.
I've always been active. Most of the time, I’ve sought out opportunities to contribute to different organizations. They each fulfilled a different passion or personal need.
At the peak of my involvement, it would average about 10 hours a week. A handful of what I’ve done is event planning, whether it was a gala for AIA or a fundraising event for Junior League. I always know my drop-dead date, when I need to stop working. Pre-planning and time budgeting is important. I also plan out the entire year. I write out the major events for each organization and if there are weekly commitments. That way, I can see the picture of how I will dedicate my time for the week, month and year.
There’s enough time if you let there be enough time. There were days when I’d go from an event for one organization to another. On the flip side, sometimes I can’t give 100 percent of my time to one organization. But if I'm able to do two things, I can learn different skill sets and be involved in both activities, but I have to split the time.
There were probably a few times I felt like this, and when I did, I would just take a step back, take some time for myself and recharge. Usually, it was just a day or two that was needed for a reboot.
I’m going to be more selective about how I spend my time. My new role as a design manager takes up more time and energy, and I have a family now. That’s a bigger part of my life. I didn’t have either of those things previously. Instead of making small impacts, I now want to focus on making a big impact and also what kind of legacy I want to leave.
If something takes more time than I had planned and it doesn’t work with my schedule, then I’ll relinquish it. I used to volunteer during my lunch hour to read to 4-year-olds who needed extra attention with reading. Instead of it taking 45 mins, it ended up taking an hour-and-a-half, and I didn’t have the time to take off from work. Another instance would be if something has run its course. When I was involved with Rotaract, I spent about five years in the organization. It’s considered a young professional group. After five years, I was at the higher end of the age group, and that was when I moved on to a Rotary club.
I would encourage them to make sure whatever they want to be involved in aligns with their passions. No one organization is going to fulfill every interest that you have. If there are two or three you’re interested in, definitely reach out. You never know what they have on their agenda or calendar. Sometimes, there are lulls when they’re not active during a season, but they are later in the year. There are benefits to reaching out to multiple organizations at one time.
I encouraged the younger architecture design associates to participate in the EDP (Emerging Design Professionals), the young professional group of the AIA: A few ended up being board members or officers in EDP.
I have been able to develop skills that I have utilized in my career. For example, with Toastmasters, I was the district-level administrative manager. The role included taking a notes at district meetings, which were six hours long. This prepared me for my role as design manager, I have to publish meeting minutes at the end of multi-day client meetings. The training as a volunteer in Toastmasters developed my skill to concentrate, listen and take good notes.
Haskell delivers more than $1 billion annually in Architecture, Engineering, Construction (AEC) and Consulting solutions to assure certainty of outcome for complex capital projects worldwide. Haskell is a global, fully integrated, single-source design-build and EPC firm with over 2,000 highly specialized, in-house design, construction and administrative professionals across industrial and commercial markets. With 20+ office locations around the globe, Haskell is a trusted partner for global and emerging clients.
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