SMPS Member Damion Morris

October 18, 2021

In our member spotlight, Damion Morris, CPSM, takes time out of his busy day to chat with SMPS. Damion is marketing manager for PCL Construction and has been a member of SMPS for seven years. In this spotlight, Damion shares the rewards of his career and the benefits of being an SMPS member.

How did you decide to have a career in the A/E/C industries? Initially, I stumbled into A/E/C when I learned of a marketing manager position with an architecture firm. I had attended a pre-engineering high school and once considered becoming an architect, so it was an attractive opportunity.

Marketing in the A/E/C industries is very different from the product or consumer marketing they teach in school. Instead of a tangible widget, we’re marketing hopes, dreams, and promises. I didn’t quite know how to do that at the time, but as Richard Branson so eloquently said, “When someone gives you an amazing opportunity and you’re not sure you can do it, say yes—then learn how to do it later.”

How would you describe your role/job? A company’s survival and success hinge on being able to profitably serve its clients’ needs better than its competitors. As a marketer in this space, my job is to serve as a bridge between my organization and the client, and as the linchpin of knowledge for this relationship. I need to understand the clients’ wants, needs, and hot-button issues so I can help mobilize and motivate the organization’s leadership to serve our customers better.

What’s your favorite part of the job? I consider myself a developer of people; I’m often called upon to act as a coach, cheerleader, or even therapist for my team. Whether the task at hand is to build a high-caliber and cross-functional marketing team or prepare an interview team, I love fanning the ember of genius in everyone and helping them to become their best selves.

What have been the challenges and rewards of your career? I’m of the belief that challenges usually relate back to personal development. By far, my biggest challenge has been growing into the person I needed to be to step into the seat that I have. I’ve had to work on myself—a lot. You don’t just wake up one day and you’re suddenly the person you hope to be. You must practice who you want to be and that can be hard. I knew how to market, but I quickly learned that being a marketing whiz wouldn’t be enough to be successful. I had to learn the business and the industry because if I were to speak as a marketer, the message will fall flat.

For the greatest rewards, I refer back to my working relationships and the times I helped others bring out the best in themselves. One moment that stands out recently was prepping the team for a project interview. Since many people aren’t comfortable with public speaking, it started out as an exercise in putting kittens back into the box and staying on task. We worked hard, and, over the course of the week, I watched my team’s confidence grow. They knocked it out of the park! I couldn’t have been prouder.

What has been your most meaningful project? I believe wholeheartedly that I am my most meaningful project. Human beings will live up to who they believe they are, and I’m always pushing myself to see how much of my latent potential I can turn into something real and meaningful. Not just for me, but for my family and community. I’ll never be done growing, and I’ll never get to the bottom of my aspiration list, but I’m climbing this mountain for the journey, not the view. It’s a simple truth that when you live your best self, you live your best life. As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

Why is membership in SMPS important to you and how has it helped you to advance your firm and your career? Membership in SMPS has provided me the opportunity to develop myself as a leader. After joining SMPS Los Angeles in 2014, I served on the special events committee and later took on a board position as treasurer. From there, I was nominated president. I just completed my five-year commitment.

My involvement in SMPS positioned me to connect with and learn from some of the best in the business, and it also brought me to PCL. I had approached one of our past presidents about providing a reference for a position I was applying to. She agreed, then called a few days later to offer me a job with PCL. That’s the power of the SMPS network.

What has contributed to your success? My internal drive for success is a key factor, but I’ve also been very fortunate to work with some great mentors over the years. I’ve also worked exclusively for primes in the industry, which for me has been a key differentiator. It’s given me a broader perspective of the game and how the industry works.

What advice would you give someone about to enter marketing or business development? I would caution against taking on a hybrid role. Marketing and business development are two very different jobs, and it’s hard to be exceptional at both. I’m a big believer that you should select and strive to be the best at whatever you do.

What’s the best advice you’ve received regarding your career or working in A/E/C? Your career is your responsibility, so take it by the reins. A large part of that is building and maintaining your network. This is a relatively small industry and you should lean on your network for intel and learn from those who are further ahead than you.

What’s the best career advice you’ve given? Don’t adopt someone else’s narrative as your own. Take the cards you’ve been dealt and figure out a way to make magic with them. What you believe will come true, and success will directly correlate to self-work.

What’s on your bucket list? Travel. I am a student of philosophy and I’m particularly interested in the work of the Stoics, who believed on focusing on things that are under your control. Greece is the birthplace of Stoicism and is otherwise steeped in history and mythology, so I’ll start there.

Guilty pleasure: What can you not live without? I love comfort. I work hard partially so I can live by a “treat yo’ self” mentality. I couldn’t choose just one creature comfort, so I would say all of them as a whole.