Member Spotlight: Barbara Horton

Barbara Horton, FIALD


HLB Lighting Design, Inc.

Number of Years in Industry:

How has SMPS membership been of value to you and your career?
I've been a member for about 20 years plus in the NYC chapter. I have attended many regional conferences and encourage found profesional development and networking to be the most valuable resource for me and my business. Our 7 marketing team members are members and often serve in a board or committee role which as been valuable to promote our firm and to engage them in professional development.

How did you get started with your career?
I started as designer in the firm and after 12 years was invited to become an owner and take over as CEO. I gravitated to marketing and envisioned the plans, goals, programs, campaigns. Since then we have built a team of 7 professional team members (we have 85 employees in the firm) who are overseeing all of our marketing from proposals, media/communications and business development working with 12 principals acros 7 offices.

Are you interested in seeking CPSM certification; and if so, how do you expect it to benefit you?
I am not since I am actual a Design Principal in the firm but I have one Marketing Manager with the credentials and another about to embark on the process. We make this part of our internal growth plan for promotions.

What excites you about your work and the contribution you make?
What excites me about my role in the firm as CEO is the challenge of the pursuit and developing winning strategies for the firm and for each pursuit. It's exciting, even when we are not successful we always debrief and offer a lunch and learn on lighting to demonstrate our unique talented team.

What helpful tip(s) can you share with your fellow SMPS members?
I just recently relocated to Miami and have not had a chance to get involved as I did in NY. But that being said, my goal for 2020 is to make the time to participate locally and build on the opportunity in this community.

What is the best communications/marketing advice you've ever received?
If you fail, and you will at some point, fail fast, learn and move on with your new knowledge. In marketing we always have let downs and we need to be humble and open to learning.

Pretend you're a CEO. What three concerns about the firm's future keep you up at night?
Well, I am the CEO and I can tell you from my daily experience. 1) are we on our goals for financial performance 2) do we have the pipeline/backlog of work for 12 plus months 3) are our clients getting the care they expect. We are currently doing extremely well and about to do a blind client survey to help us plan for industry changes to keep us ahead of the curve.

What's your favorite moment of your career so far?
My favorite monment in my career was in 2015 when I served at the President of my professional organization (IALD) and had to present at UNICEF in Paris for the International Day of Light representing my colleagues from around the world as a Lighting Designer. It was daunting to speak in front of 15,000 people in the infamous hall. Thankfully for only 10 minutes.... It was exhilarating and a proud moment for me to have a few minutes to tell the world about what I do in my career.

What was your childhood dream job?
I always wanted to be an artist. In a way, I fulfilled that dream by painting with light.... (I do paint for fun when I can spare the time).

What was your most uncomfortable work place scenario and how did you solve it?
I am sure there are many over the 37 years. But the most memorable one was being a 23 year old woman at a construction site and having the male contractor be a total chauvinist. I handled him directly, swiftly and with class that stopped him in his tracks. I turned the challenge into a win to help other women avoid the same situations.

What are you currently watching on Netflix?
OA, Strnger Things, Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad.

If you could visit anywhere in the world you have never been, where would you go?
I travel extensively to many parts of the world - just did my second around the world travel from Miami to Sydney to Dubai and back. I have never been to India and hear southern India is amazing.

Do you have a secret talent? What is it?
I'm pretty open book. I am an avid ocean sailor and hope to sail across the Atlantic to Europe with my husband in 2020/21 in our sailboat.

What was your first real job?
Interior Designer for a firm in NY. I started as a designer and within the 1st year my boss asked me to manage scheduling/work loads for the firm of 75 people. I had no idea how to boss around a few senior PM's but I offered a breakfast weekly and they came and I learned the ropes to organize the team. Later I focused on interiors when I became an accidental tourist in lighting and loved it which lead to a new career and leadership role in the firm years later.

What's the sneakiest thing you've ever done and got away with?
I learned how to artfully plant seeds for something I want and let my husband think it's his idea. It's better to keep my ego in check to achieve harmonious results....

You're a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why?
This question is so me.... I translate many things into a color (even taste). I would call my crayon Coral Canyon. Those radiant sunset colors you see in the Grand Canyon of orange combined with the rich coral of the sea.

What is your favorite family tradition?
Family Thanksgiving weekend in the Poconos has been our joy and tradition. Planning a dinner weeks ahead (non traditional) we do a 
Tuscan style dinner with local produce.

What was the best concert you've ever attended?
Tom Waits - concert in NY when he introduced Mule Variations. He actually loitering was in the audience (looking like a homeless person) and when the concert started he sauntered on stage all rumpled but ready to perform.

If you could learn anything, what would it be?
I would love to learn Italian fluently. I became an Italian citizen 2 years ago through blood line but have not gotten back to studying. Now in Miami I really need to hone my spanish... need more time.

If you could change your name, what would it be and why?
Gosh, I actually use a professional name and private name which causes all sorts of problems and then when I got my Italian citizenship they make you revert back to your maiden name. very confusing. But Recently, I was asked what to be called when our first grandson arrived. I chose Basia (barbara in Polish). Much better than grandma and my daughter in law is of Polish decent so I though it was appropriate. She loved it. win win.

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