In our member spotlight, Danielle Hilmo takes time out of her busy day to chat with SMPS. Danielle is marketing manager for BWBR. She has been a member of SMPS for 12 years and has worked in the A/E/C industries for 23. In this spotlight, Danielle shares the rewards of her career and the benefits of being an SMPS member.
How did you decide to have a career in the A/E/C industries? I somewhat randomly landed a job at an architectural firm as an administrative assistant, then found I had an interest in marketing and slowly transitioned into that role.
How would you describe your role/job? Though my title is marketing manager, I would more accurately describe it as “director of pursuits.” I am involved in all stages of a project pursuit, from advising on strategic positioning, analyzing the competition, forming teams, and go/no-go, to overseeing production of all customized brochures, proposals, and interviews.
I supervise a team of four marketing coordinators. I assign work to the coordination team, monitor opportunities/RFPs through lead services and our CRM, and serve as mentor and cheerleader. I also occasionally do production on proposals and presentations. I work hand-in-hand with our business development director, business development manager, and communications manager to maintain and enhance our image and meet sales goals.
What’s your favorite part of the job? Variety, learning, and mentoring! There are so many aspects to my job that keep my mind agile and engaged. I also am passionate about supporting others to grow and develop into their best professional selves.
What have been the challenges and rewards of your career? Having transitioned from an administrative role and without a marketing degree, it took a while to build up a reputation with leadership as a trusted advisor. I am very grateful BWBR supported me in developing into the role I have now. I feel a real sense of ownership and pride in my work, and I believe in the direction the company is taking.
What has been your most meaningful project? I can’t pick just one–probably the most recent large project win … and then seeing the project become a built reality a few years later.
Why is membership in SMPS important to you and how has it helped you to advance your firm and your career? Involvement in chapter committees has helped me establish and deepen relationships with local colleagues. As a firm that often forms and leads multi-disciplinary teams, this is very important professionally. It also gives me a chance to compare notes with others and pass on my knowledge to a younger generation.
What has contributed to your success? Asking good questions and seeking help when I need it. Knowing who in my company can serve as my allies and champions. Advocating for myself, not merely working hard with my head down and hoping people notice.
What advice would you give someone about to enter marketing or business development? Be open to learning and don’t be afraid to dive into something new, even if you are not fully qualified. The ability to be flexible and think on your feet are crucial for this type of work. Putting yourself in novel situations also allows more creativity.
But also be aware of your limits and strive for work-life harmony. Do not feel compelled to say yes to every request.
What’s the best advice you’ve received regarding your career or working in A/E/C? To get out of my comfort zone and to be decisive. If I’m wrong, it’s a learning opportunity. Failing once in while is not bad if I’m “failing forward.”
What’s the best career advice you’ve given? Go for that new job or responsibility even if you don’t check all the qualifications boxes. Being a good at writing or layout combined with critical thinking skills and creativity are what many employers in this industry are looking for rather than merely a relevant degree or a similar previous job history.
What’s on your bucket list? Take a grand tour of East Asia. I lived in Japan for a couple years in the 1990s and it was a life-changing experience. I would like to go back to Japan, and then explore South Korea, Taiwan, China, the Philippines Thailand, and Vietnam.
Guilty pleasure: What can you not live without? Chocolate!