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Senior Member Profile: Aurora Cammarata

December 7, 2010

SMPS Boston is lucky to have a number of senior marketers involved in our chapter, including numerous past chapter presidents. Because these experienced marketers are a great resource for all SMPS Boston members, the Outlook blog will feature profiles of various senior members on a regular basis. Today, we’d like to introduce you to Aurora Cammarata, Director of Business Development at Spagnolo Gisness & Associates, Inc. You may remember Aurora from our May “Ask the Experts” column, when she answered your questions about performing client satisfaction surveys and working with technical staff on proposals.

How long have you been working in the marketing industry?

25 years

What has your involvement in SMPS been like? When were you president?

My first job in the industry was at RG Vanderweil Engineers. I was required by my boss, Bill Vanderweil, to join SMPS. He knew what I did not, at the time, that SMPS is the place where you will learn the craft of AEC marketing. From the very beginning, I made friends, identified mentors, learned from the programs, and improved my leadership and organizational skills by being involved. I was Education Committee Chair, Program Committee Chair, and Chapter President.

During my time on the Board, we debated whether or not we should switch from mailing printed program notices by mail or try this new technology lots of people were using called e-mail. We started the charity golf tournament and we resurrected the regional conference. And, we won lots of recognition on a national level for work in education and programming – the Boston Chapter was often acknowledged by other chapters as the standard by which others were judged. I think we just did what we thought our membership needed – and if that wasn’t it, we tried something else.

I am proud to have accomplished so many things with my colleagues at the time – people like Linda Koch, Jack Jolls, Donna Denio, Mike Spence, Dan Carson, Diana Rubino, Heather Kohut, and Chris Keeley. I am also pretty proud of the fact that many of the marketing coordinators I have hired in this business have made real careers for themselves – lots of them have Manager and Director in their titles and some have even become Chapter presidents! – I like to think I gave a few of them a very good start.

How has the industry changed since you started?

In a word, technology. Imagine researching a potential client without the web. Imagine creating a SF255 and SF254 (now SF330) without a computer at your desk but with a typewriter (who remembers those?) and eventually, with help from the word processing department down the hall. Imagine running downstairs to Copy Cop to pick up your faxes – because the machines themselves were still too expensive for everyone to own. Pen plotters instead of laser printers. I will never forget the argument I had with one boss about why I needed to spend $20 a month to get an AOL account for e-mail and to search the web – what did I need any of that for? The list goes on and on. Technology allows us to do so many things that we could not do before.

What is a lesson learned from your time in the industry as a marketing professional?

No matter how much we think the new tools will help or change our industry the fact remains, this is a high-touch business, you have to get to know people in order to do business with them. And you have to express what you know about them in everything you do for them. It is personal. Oh yeah, and no one will beat me if I have done all the work and no one works harder than me!

What piece of advice would you tell a young marketer just starting out?

In order to really enjoy this business – because let’s face it, it is long days and nights sometimes – you have to take some pride not just in a proposal or presentation well done. You must take pride in what the team accomplishes too. If you do your job well, you are just as much a part of that beautiful skyscraper or that healthcare center or that new highway that the team got to design and build. If you do not find the same satisfaction in the work that others do because you helped them get there, I think you will be very short lived in this business.

The recession has made a large impact on the marketing profession and the marketer’s role in a firm. What would you advise marketing professionals to do in terms of “showing their value” to firm principals?

Don’t just work hard – work smart. If you see a need, fill it. Don’t just share your ideas, take the initiative to put them into action. Never stop trying to improve upon what you just did – learn from it and make it even better the next time.

Have a recommendation for senior member profile? E-mail Franceen Shaughnessy at fashaughnessy@sgh.com.

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