Member Spotlight: Cora Harkins

Cora Harkins

Cora Harkins

Director of Marketing and Business Development

GATES Construction

Number of Years in the AEC Industry:

How has SMPS membership been of value to you and your career?
SMPS has been a valuable part of my career. I love to bounce ideas off of other members as well as find ways to help each other.

How did you get started with your career?
The first company I worked for was Nevamar Decorative Surfaces. I worked for them in college in the factory assembling samples. As a young design student I loved color and design. One day at a company party I met a man who started asking me a lot of questions about design and color. Why do we need so many white laminates in our product line. Wouldn't 3 colors be enough? Of course in my typical passionate way I began to explain why color and design were so important and how they add so much to the world we live in. On the way home, I noticed the man in the BMW next to me and realized that he was the CEO of the company Jay Cullen. I was so embarrassed as I knew he was very well informed on trends. Anyway, two years later when the position opened for their NYC representative, Jay remembered me and my passion. He asked me to join their team.

What excites you about your work and the contribution you make?
I have been lucky to always work for amazing companies. I love to see they grow and expand. Marketing is an essential part of this process.

What helpful tip(s) can you share with your fellow SMPS members?
Love what you do.

What is the best communications/marketing advice you've ever received?
Even if you accomplish your task quickly, sometimes it is good to wait a day and look at it again.

What's your favorite moment of your career so far?
There are so many. Each project holds great memories. Early in my career I was fortunate to work on landmark projects at Ellis Island and the Empire State Building. Often now, my favorite moments are the moments I share with the occupants of the building enjoying their new space.

What was your childhood dream job?
Set Designer.

What are you currently watching on Netflix/Hulu/Other Streaming service?
I am watching Handmaid's Tale on Hulu.

If you could visit anywhere in the world you have never been, where would you go?
Athens, Greece I have always wanted to see the Parthenon.

What's the sneakiest thing you've ever done and got away with?
When I was 15 I would often sneak out of an all girl parochial school to meet up with my boyfriend. I was so active on committees and president of my class that I never got caught.

What was the best concert you've ever attended?
Jimmy Buffet at Kings Dominion in Doswell, VA. I worked there for the theatrical department and got to see things close up. A close second from the same period was Patti LaBelle. What an amazing voice and performer.

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