After 45 years of leading proposals for architecture, our star Proposal Coordinator, Monica Clarke, is officially retiring. Monica has built lasting relationships within our firm, and we are thankful for the time she dedicated to MWA.
Once Monica steps out of what she lovingly refers to as “proposal land,” she will spend her days cooking meals for her dog Penny, learning new compositions on her harp, and mastering her video gaming skills.
Congratulations, Monica, on a career full of meaning and success.
Monica’s dream becomes her reality
Since she was eight years old, Monica knew exactly what she wanted to do for a living: she wanted to be a secretary.
Inspired by her favorite show, Star Trek, Monica would come home from school every day and sit in front of the TV, speedily air-typing the entire dialog. By the time she graduated high school, Monica could (real) type a whopping 140 words per minute.
Bringing her dream and her skills to fruition, Monica began working as an administrative assistant at an architecture firm in Portland. She would meet with the firm’s principal to discuss potential projects, and she would type his words verbatim.
She learned how to transform his colloquialism into winning proposals. From there, her path was set. Monica has been leading proposals and marketing in architecture for 45 years.
Shifts in marketing
Over the decades, Monica has watched marketing change shape. She explained how her team used to draw presentations by hand, “we used to have ten people on a drawing, each person with their own set of colored pencils.” Now, Monica can create a presentation in InDesign in a fraction of the time!
“But the biggest change,” Monica recalled, “is that when I started, a project would get done with a handshake. Now, there’s such importance on contracts and legal agreements. It is much more formal.”
Despite the changes that the decades bring, one thing has remained: “the friends I made at the beginning of my career are still my best buddies.” Monica credits this as the accomplishment she is most proud of in her career. “That’s a 30- to 40-year friendship,” she proudly stated.
The MWA Chapter
MWA may not have been the start of Monica’s career, but we are grateful to have worked with her for over four years, soaking up all the wisdom she shared from her years of experience.
Monica’s favorite memory at MWA was on her very first day. “When I was going up the elevator, I met Taryn. I told her it was my first day, and she was so sweet! I will always remember that. She was kind, and that set the tone for my time at MWA, working with such genuine people.”
Monica quickly became one of the friendly faces at MWA, welcoming people to the team just as Taryn had welcomed her. Graphic Designer Allison Plass says that Monica is “such a gem. Not only does she have the in-depth knowledge to mentor her team members, but she’s just a joy to work with. She’s the best collaborator, so personable, and full of hilarious stories. The moment I met her, I felt like we’d known each other forever. I’ll truly miss working with her every day!”
Finding success in her career and relationships, Monica says that the most important advice she can give is to “follow your passion. Cuz if you follow the money, it ain’t gonna be fun.” Monica has been following her passion her entire career.
Now, an exciting new journey begins. Monica says that what she most looks forward to in retirement is being the master of her own time. “I have no plans of what I will be doing, and that is exciting! I will live in every moment because I won’t have anywhere I need to be.”
But before she says goodbye, Monica has some final words for her teammates at MWA, the same words that began her journey all those years ago:
“Live long and prosper.”