Oh My, IPMI!
By Robin Pulsifer
One year into a new position as Director of Parking for Keolis Commuter Services, I decided, for the first time, that it was the perfect time to attend an IPMI conference, though not alone – I was with my new team. I had been to parking conferences, of course, but never IPMIs. And honestly, I had no idea what to expect outside of having selected the sessions I wanted to participate in and the speakers I was most drawn to, carefully plotting my way around the event before I’d even stepped foot on the plane that would take me there.
Before flying from Boston, my team, also first-time attendees, asked what they should participate in. I firmly believe in trusting your intuition and what moves you; what sparks interest, or even fire, is so individual and rather intimate. I urged them to separate at times, explore, take it all in from their own unique perspective, be unbiased, and to forge an original experience.
And they did. We all did.
And of course we met and sat together, we attended sessions of mutual interest together, whispering the words of “oh wow, that’s a new way to integrate EV charging into our portfolio.” We conveyed our sense of collective pride in our client, Bruno Lopes of the MBTA in Boston, as he explained his case study of creating a non-punitive, frictionless parking experience to a sold out crowd, standing room only, in Room 204B on a Monday. To see a project that we work so hard to support celebrated, to a captive audience of like minds, to hear applause and an excited question and answer session to follow, for me, allowed for one of those sometimes rare moments in this work thing when a sense of real pride and a few goosebumps confirms that you indeed made the right career choice, without question or doubt. Parking directors of major cities lingered after the session, quietly asking in depth questions, taking notes, and taking away that communal support that we all need and in the end, that’s why we all come. And you realize we are all still learning here.
And this work thing it is that – work. We show up each day, we do our jobs to the best of our abilities, we get paid, and we go home at night. But there was something else that hit me during my time at this particular IPMI conference: that working in the parking industry can be about so much more if you let it. We met colleagues in person whose faces we’d only seen on LinkedIn. We were invited to barbeques on a whim, no strings attached, just to talk or laugh and to have one of the largest beers I’d seen in my entire life. After all, it was Texas.
And I’m a people watcher. I can’t help it. The people I saw excitedly on steep slow moving escalators, headed to their selected next session, or those chasing QR codes to get to the top of the SCANvenger Hunt Game to “win big”, to the presenters reviewing their talking notes, before a room filled in front of them, to the way we all sat together, quietly eating quiche and fruit, clapping for our fellow colleagues accepting glossy etched awards – I’d come to realize that we are people of the most supportive kind. We are resilient in what at times can be a tough arena, this parking world of ours. We know what it means to fail. We know what it means to succeed and that the reason we were there was to congratulate ourselves on how hard both are.
So thank you IPMI, for allowing a venue to bring together “my people” as I like to say. Like minds, those similar to me and my fantastic team. For designing an innovative landscape and inviting us to navigate through rooms of brilliant minds and creative ways of practice and to allow us all to realize that parking can be meaningful and even fun. This IPMI conference, for me, was the reminder that I hadn’t realized I’d needed. To remember that we are not alone in what we do every day. It was a reminder that we do hard things well. Really well in fact. And that while we don’t always see each other in hallways or vendor halls or at tables picking at quiche and fruit, it is a reminder that we have a support system large enough to pack Texas sized ballrooms. And that, like Texas, is huge.