Coopetition and Frenemies: How to Navigate the Waters of Professional Friendships with Industry Competitors


March 8, 2017 10:15 am - 11:30 am

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Emily Gallagher Fors
Barry Sutherland, LEED AP BD+C

Two competing general contractors walk into a bar. Wait, competitors? Hanging out together? The punchline of this joke is that Barry Sutherland and Emily Fors, two fierce general contractor competitors, actually are friends in real life. The two will share their experiences and guidance on how you can maintain successful professional friendships, even with an industry competitor in a highly competitive landscape. They will share why these friendships are mutually beneficial to both you as an individual and your firm, how to stay friends even when competition heats up, and even what not to do: because we all know someone who has done it wrong in the past. Sutherland and Fors also sprinkle in real stories from fellow SMPS industry friends, tips and tricks they’ve learned in their combined 30+ years of experience, plus the one thing they can always agree on: architect and engineer jokes.

Takeaways/learning outcomes

Make a cognitive decision about the best way to foster, grow, and improve industry relationships and professional friendships.

Know what not to do and how not to treat a professional competitor in a casual setting.

Understand how the benefits of professional friendships can strengthen both you as an individual and a professional representing your firm.

Bonus: share a few laughs and have a little fun.