Passionate, Driven, and Committed

An interview with members Cathy and Julia DeFrances.

Our passion. Our drive. Our determination and commitment. Sometimes, we learn these traits. Other times they come from within, passed down from generation to generation. In honor of Mother’s Day, we shine the spotlight on two SMPS members: Cathy DeFrances and her daughter Julia. Marketer QuickLook gets to know more about this dynamic duo, their chosen fields, and an important piece of advice they’d give each other.

SMPS: Can you tell us a little about your career and your current role?

Cathy: My current role at Fuss & O’Neill EnviroScience, LLC is associate, director of business development. I’m responsible for developing/retaining business for the firm’s hazardous materials division as well as cross-marketing /cross-selling for all divisions. But I didn’t start out in marketing. My background is accounting, and I helped small businesses set up systems and apply for business loans. These loans all called for marketing plans. I realized if people were going to pay me money to develop a marketing plan, I’d better know something about it. So I did two things: I went back to school to take a bunch of marketing classes, and I joined SMPS.

Julia: I started working at Tecton in September 2013. I do a little of everything, but I mostly assist with proposals and awards submissions. I also do some data entry and graphic work, whatever my supervisors need help with. I’m still in college set to graduate in May 2017.

SMPS: Did your mom play a role in your chosen field and, if so, how?

Julia: My mother has definitely had an impact on my chosen career, and while she and my family like to joke that I had no choice in the matter, she never forced me to get involved. In a lot of ways, I was essentially born into the marketing industry. I grew up going to work with my mother, and I was always eager to help with tasks around the office. As I got older, I was given more responsibilities, up to the point when I was given my first proposal to do. Once I started working for Tecton, I was truly hooked on marketing, and while my mother was certainly responsible for exposing me to the industry, she wasn’t the one who asked me to get involved—I asked her.

SMPS: What qualities does your daughter possess that will make her a great marketer?

Cathy: Well, Julia is brilliant to start. And you have to be smart to understand and interpret the requirements of an RFQ. You have to be able to read, think strategically, and know your own abilities (like how long it will take to complete a task) so that you can juggle three or four demands at once. She is also competitive and demands the highest level of performance from herself and those around her. She is inquisitive, eager to learn and understands that by surrounding herself with other brilliant people, by being a mentor and having a mentor, it will make all the difference in her career.

SMPS: Is there advice (professional or otherwise) you’d give your mom based on your life experiences and college studies?

Julia: I think the biggest thing I’ve learned, not about professional life but life in general, is that it’s okay to take a day off. You don’t need to go to every event, participate in every project, do every chore. It’s alright to take a day and take care of yourself.

SMPS: What advice would you give your daughter upon graduation and getting her first full-time job? And what advice five years into her career?

Cathy: Know your own self-worth and don’t accept anyone who disrespects you. Look for a firm that is fun, creative, and passionate with an open-minded culture when choosing that first full-time job. Five years in, make sure that marketing professional services is still your passion. Examine your options and don’t stay doing something if your heart tells you to try something else. Rule the world by your own rules.

In what ways have you mentored or influenced each other?

Cathy: Frankly, I think Julia has influenced me far more than I’ve influenced her. For example, from a very early age—high school, if I remember correctly—she has been my best sounding board. She’s taught me how to value myself, to not let anyone treat me badly, and to demand respect. From her eyes, no one is allowed to “be mean” to her mother and that resonated with me deeply. She’s encouraged me to take risks, change jobs, and make big scary choices.

Julia: My mother has absolutely been my mentor. She taught me everything I know about marketing and professionalism. She’s an incredible sounding board for my ideas and she’s always incredibly supportive. She’s inspired me to work hard, to be kind and creative, and above all, to be open to new experiences.

SMPS: What three adjectives would you use to describe your daughter?

Cathy: Julia is intuitive, hard-working, and determined.

What three adjectives would you use to describe your mom?

Julia: My mom is bold, creative, and charismatic.

Do you have a story to share about your career or a colleague who has helped make a difference in your professional life? Contact Content Specialist Linda Smolkin at [email protected].

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