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26 Apr, 2017

Q&A with the 2016 SMPS DC Golden Tuba Winner Carol Duke

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Read time: 3 minutes, 53 seconds

Our awards program nominations are due in one month, on May 26, which includes nominations for the Golden Tuba award. In light of that, we're pleased to bring you a Q&A with our 2016 Golden Tuba winner, Carol Duke of HGA.

Golden Tuba Award Background

Our Washington, DC chapter of SMPS presents the Ginny Solomon Golden Tuba Award Annually to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to professional services marketing and to the DC Chapter. Since the first Golden Tuba Award in 1981, our Chapter has recognized 32 leaders with the Golden Tuba Award for their contributions to marketing and professional services based on outstanding advancement of the marketing profession.

Many people ask “Why the Tuba?”. Tom Page, the second recipient in 1982, bought this beat-up, old tuba at a Baltimore pawn shop after seeing it in a shop window. It is said that Page figured, “A successful marketer would be the individual carrying a tuba on the day it rained pennies from heaven.” Because as a marketer you have to be in the right place at the right time.

In 1995 the award was renamed to honor the memory of Ginny Solomon, a Chapter leader. Since that time, the award has been presented as “The Ginny Solomon Golden Tuba Award”. In 2016, we proudly continued this tradition by honoring Carol, a member of our chapter who embodies all of the qualities necessary to carry on the prestigious tuba tradition.

The award evaluation is based on establishing and maintaining high standards of marketing, exhibited leadership in the community, outstanding contribution to their firm through their marketing efforts, demonstrated creativity and individuality in the field of marketing, and outstanding contribution to the SMPS DC chapter through their volunteer efforts.

Q&A with Carol Duke

SMPS DC: How were you first introduced to SMPS and what motivated you to join?

Carol: I heard about SMPS when I joined HDR in Dallas (in 1994), but I really dived into the organization when my family and I moved back to Virginia in 1996. The DC chapter programs were terrific; the people open and inviting; and the opportunities for success were limitless. These factors are still true today. Why wouldn’t anyone want to join SMPS?

How has SMPS helped you in your career?

In the early years, SMPS programs helped me better understand not only the hows and whys of being a successful marketing professional, but also the possibilities for career growth. The programs always seemed to align with a particular challenge I was experiencing at work (how did they know?). After SMPS events, groups of people would get together and continue the conversations. This information sharing both deepened my relationships with the membership and helped elevate my learning curve. Participating on the SMPS board in the early 2000s was incredibly helpful and I really enjoyed working with a wide range of professionals who helped me broaden my perspective beyond architecture. Since then, I have had the privilege to give back to the chapter through speaking engagements, serving as a board advisor, and most recently—perhaps most importantly—by participating in the Guru Guidance program. I feel that in this stage of my career I should be spending much more time giving back to SMPS than asking it to “give” to me.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

I had a terrific boss and mentor at HDR named Roger Stewart. He always said that marketing staff were “managers to the rock stars.” Notice it’s not managers “of” the rock stars. We are advocators and partners. We collaborate with our colleagues by providing strategy, advice, research, and all things that contribute to their—and our—success.

What would you consider to be your greatest achievement?

That’s a tough question. I could list some big wins and throw out square footages and dollar signs, but really I think that managing win strategies and mentoring staff have been the most fulfilling. I try to find the best opportunities for success with each colleague and like to think that those who have been in the trenches with me have come out much stronger with excellent communication skills; great time management skills; the ability to lead teams; creative problem solving and strategic thinking; and all along maintaining a sense of humor.

Who would you consider to be influential people in your career?

I have found success with many thanks to mentors who invested time and energy in my career growth. They allowed me to chart my own course, making mistakes along the way and learning from them. They include my first boss, Mary Hanley, at The Wilderness Society and Roger Stewart at HDR. There are also friends, colleagues, and confidants through SMPS who mean the world to me, including Dori Landry and Carolyn Evans. I have also appreciated every Guru Guidance partner over the years. Each of them has helped me better understand the challenges of early- and mid-career marketing professionals and made me a better advocate for their continued success.

Helpful hints to share with your fellow SMPS members?

Ask questions…always. Curiosity helps us gain insights that may not be immediately at hand. And don’t settle for the first answer; do your homework, probe, and pull until you have all the information you need to make smart, informed decisions. Being inquisitive and pleasantly persistent will get you everywhere.

What does being awarded the Ginny Solomon Golden Tuba mean to you?

As many people know, I don’t typically have a loss for words, but winning this award left me speechless. I have been an SMPS supporter for many years and never expected more than the ultimate success of the chapter. And I wouldn’t be in this position without so many of you. The people, processes, and programs make SMPS great and I am honored to support the efforts any way I can.