By Jessica Sulprizio, The iMPAct Program Chair.

I’m proud that a few colleagues and I created The iMPAct Program here at MPA, a formalized program to motivate our firm in four distinct ways: Competition, Social, University and Wellness. But, let me start at the very beginning.

Fresh out of college and newly hired at MPA, I was ready to start my career as an Architect. As I walked through the Innovation District and into the office full of welcoming faces I thought: “this is going to be a great place to work.”

While the months went by, I attended mini trade shows, went to a Red Sox game with a colleague, participated in the IIDA fashion show, enjoyed roof deck parties, summer outings, and even joined the office softball team!

Throughout these first few months I came to realize that my coworkers also thought that this was a great place to work…in fact many of them had been here for well over 15 years!

As most other new employees are around my age,  we became quick friends. One of our favorite past times at work was Friday Snack, one of the many traditions here at MPA. The whole office gets together on Friday afternoon to kick back enjoy some beer and homemade food…and every now and then a good story. People will share memories of the “old days” or what their plans are for the weekend.

One such story involved the 2003 white water rafting trip the office took. Wait, white water rafting?! This sparked a whole new conversation. What other activities can we plan for the office? How can we create more open dialog situations like the one we have at Friday Snack? How can we bridge the gap between the older and newer staff?

Born was The iMPAct Program; “an initiative to increase the sense of community, skills and wellness of our MPA family.” – Jenna Meyers, The iMPAct Program Chair

We started a committee where people could openly brainstorm in an effort to answer some of these questions. After a few initial meetings we created four groups that all fell under the umbrella of the program: Competition, Social, University and Wellness. With the help of our marketing department we created logos and presented the idea to the firm.

Six months later, we now have a strong competition team, a full social calendar, in-house educational initiatives, and an active wellness program.

The idea is that entering competitions will prove beneficial to our methodology by allowing us to pursue design and presentation avenues with the ability to experiment.  We’re able to put together teams of people that otherwise may not work together regularly and insert ourselves into an unfamiliar design scenario that we can explore.  By doing so, we’ll familiarize ourselves with new technology and build experience in designing new types of space. Simultaneously, we are able to push the envelope in a way that we aren’t often able to with clients, sharpening our creative skills.” – Rui Ribeiro, MPA Competition Team Chair.

To date, MPA has participated in four national and local competitions with a wide range of participation from staff, both in competition design and critique.

MPA social is about creating a more cohesive group within the MPA team. We are not only coworkers, but friends. The MPA community is very focused toward creating a fun and comfortable environment for all employees and MPA social  provides the forum in which we can get together outside of work.” – Cameron Pierce, MPA Social Chair.

MPA Social has a full calendar of Red Sox games, food truck lunches, boat cruises, concerts, and even just having a beer together at the local watering hole.

MPA University is going to make us smarter. Professional education is an ongoing endeavor in the world of design and construction, where our community and competitors challenge us daily, and specialized licenses and certifications must be maintained.  We are taking strides to provide convenient access to a network of resources, promoting a forum for sharing expertise and a variety of learning opportunities.  All levels of experience are being called together with the ultimate goal that each of us will contribute to, participate in, and benefit from each other’s knowledge and insight.” – Lindsey Mackey, MPA University Chair.

Lunch and Learns, webinars, technical presentations, lessons learned, and other types of sessions are held on a weekly basis. The group also created a database for sharing useful articles, design inspiration, white papers, and other educational material.

The MPA Wellness Program exists to make you healthier, happier and stronger. Its goals all help to support a better well-rounded YOU. As an office, we are a team, here to challenge and encourage each other to do the best that you can each day. Statistics show that people who live a healthy lifestyle are more productive in the work place. This program is a simple point system that motivates and rewards its participants. It also works with the other sub-categories within The iMPAct Program to promote social interaction within the company.” – Vivienne Kenny & Caitlin Greenwood, MPA Wellness Chairs.

Events such as Walking Wednesdays, yoga nights and nutrition workshops help to not only get MPA up and moving, but to do it in collaborative and fun ways.

The fact that we were able to create this successful program with support from all levels proves what an amazing, unique, and family-oriented culture we have. We look forward to evolving our ideas and growing the program; we are learning from each other every day and continue to build a stronger sense of community within our firm. MPA is truly a great place to work!