Capitol Communicator is running a series of profiles of communicators in the mid-Atlantic. In this “up close and personal” profile, we feature Catherine Richards, vice president and director of creative design at Podesta Group. Photography for this series is by Cade Martin; wardrobe styling by Pascale Lemaire for THE Artist Agency; and hair and makeup by Patti D Nelson and Janice Kinigopoulos for THE Artist Agency.
Catherine, tell us a bit about yourself.
I have been in Washington, D.C., for 14 years. After graduating from William & Mary with a degree in art history, I started at GMMB, an issue-based advertising agency in Georgetown. From there, I fell in love with design and began working on my degree at the Corcoran Collage of Art & Design. Three apartments, one wedding and two kids later, I am with Podesta Group.
Are you involved in any other organizations?
I am a member of AIGA.
What are the things you are most proud of?
Balancing it all. It isn’t always easy but I get done—most of the time! Wearing this many hats has certainly been the most rewarding time in my life but also the hardest. It makes every moment sweeter when you know you worked really hard for it.
Who were your personal role models?
So many people have played a part and continue to—you’re never done learning. Certainly my mom and dad. I think my mom managed to make it to every soccer game I ever played in and my dad quizzed me for my weekly spelling test at the kitchen table. Their support and encouragement was unwavering and continues to set an example. Also my husband. He has been a part of my life since college and therefore, a support system since the beginning of my professional career. His approach to things couldn’t be more different—in the best way. Watching him succeed is a constant reminder of how I can shift my thinking about current challenges.
Did your role models offer professional advice that helped you in your career?
I suppose the biggest advice that sticks with me is don’t suffer fools too hard. There will always be challenges but taking the higher road, doing the right thing, working hard is always worth it.
What professional advice do you have for others?
Have fun. If you are not enjoying what you do it’s a lot harder to be good at it. And don’t underestimate the importance of a conversation. It is often easier to establish tone and your points with a quick conversation rather than an email.
What advice do you have on what’s appropriate attire for your organization?
Being in advertising and in a creative atmosphere means there is a bit of flexibility when it comes to what is appropriate. Our office is officially casual. When we have client meetings, people certainly dress up. I think there can be a bit of an expectation for creatives to be a little “out there” in their choices but still wear clothes that are work-appropriate. My advice would be to “own it.” Confidence goes along way, not just with what you wear but how you behave. If you aren’t comfortable, change.
Where do you buy most of the clothes you wear to the office?
All over the place. I hate to shop for an occasion because I don’t want to feel pressure to find the perfect thing and end up settling. When I find the perfect thing and it’s the right price, I buy it. Then I have it when I need it. I hunt the Muléh sales racks, Gap and JCrew for basics, Zara and ASOS for affordable trendy stuff and Net-A-Porter for the splurge.
Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?
I have three cats, I love them, but I think this is too many.