Under the Big Top: The Acrobatic Life of Cathy Sutton - DeanHouston+

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Under the Big Top: The Acrobatic Life of Cathy Sutton

“Versatility” and “multitasking” are often used synonymously, though there is one major difference. One is the ability to do many things, and the other points to doing many things at once. Both, however, are innate for Cathy Sutton, and not just because she’s accomplished so much, lived in six states and spent time performing in an actual circus.

The Connecticut native and decorated U.S. Navy veteran is the epitome of versatility at DeanHouston+, lending her talents and work ethic to myriad projects so often that it’s earned her several unofficial job titles – all with a project management style that coworkers and clients appreciate.

In this DeanHouston exclusive, Cathy talks with us about her life and career, favorite pastimes and all points in between.

DH+: Hi Cathy! Thanks for your time today. Let’s dive in–tell us about your background.
CS: I was born in Connecticut, but grew up in Orlando, Florida. I graduated from Edgewater High School half a year early and returned for Prom at Walt Disney World’s Contemporary Hotel and our Graduation at Symphony Hall. Followed by an awesome kegger my father and grandmother threw for me and my friends.

Growing up, I was in an explorer troop, “Flying Circus,” a circus of amateurs. I had a trapeze act and an acrobat act where someone would balance on a board on a hard roll while holding me up as I did acrobatic moves. We would perform for churches, nursing homes, etc. I loved the flying trapeze but was afraid to let go for the catcher because we didn’t have nets. If he missed me, I was going to be hurt.

I was a bit of a wild child. The circus kept us out of trouble, but joining the Navy put me on the right track.

DH+: How did you decide the Navy was right for you?
CS: I wanted to go to college and travel, so I joined the Navy via the Delayed Entry program before graduating high school. Sadly, I only traveled 2.5 hours to Jacksonville, FL. It would be many years before I could attend college, and by then, my tuition benefits expired. I’m happy to say they’re almost paid, yay!

While in the Navy, I was selected for Special Operations on two occasions, one of which was the Granada invasion as the U.S. was pulling out our people.

Because I had performed a feat that no other had in base history, the Admiral came down to meet the sailor who made this happen. During this time, I was nominated for Sailor of the Quarter for the U.S. Atlantic Fleet. I and the other nominees went before a board of officers and interviewed. Because of the nomination, I was automatically up for Sailor of the Year for the Atlantic Fleet. My chief, however, met with me and basically said don’t get your hopes up; they never give Sailor of the Year to a first-time enlistee. I also received two Letters of Commendation and my Good Conduct Medal.

DH+: Thank you for your service! And that is a great accomplishment! What career stops did you have after your time in the Navy?
CS: Right out of the military, I worked for Ambrosia Chocolate in Charlotte, NC, before moving to Ohio, where I worked for a research pathology firm doing studies for the EPA and P&G, among others. After five years, I moved back to Connecticut, where I took a position with Bayer Pharmaceuticals – yup, the Bayer aspirin people. Five years later, I transferred to the Kentucky office before moving into the pharmaceutical industry as a marketing coordinator and traffic manager for Shire and then for PediaMed.

During this time, as a single mom, I focused on getting my daughter, with a learning disability, to graduate from high school. Once she graduated, I went back to school myself. I worked full-time and attended Thomas More College at night. Three years later, I graduated Suma Cum Laude with my bachelor’s in business administration with a concentration in marketing. I’m very proud of this fact, considering I had no college, to begin with. I was also on the Dean’s list every semester.

DH+: That is amazing and something to be very proud of! After all that, what drew you to DeanHouston?
CS: I enjoy working at an agency. It’s so rewarding to see campaigns come to life and drive business. I had interviewed with Ryan Lenihan a year before but, had accepted a job offer literally one hour before Ryan called to offer me the job at DH+. I had worked with a couple of individuals at DH+ in the past who gave me good insight. Every time I spoke with Lauren Henninger, she would mention that Ryan asked about me. So, one day I called Lauren and asked if Ryan would still be interested in bringing me in as a project manager.

DH+: What are some of the most enjoyable or interesting projects you’ve worked on?
CS: Not a DH client, but, I was a Brownie/Girl Scout Leader for five years. I enjoyed watching the confidence grow in our girls and how they learned to compromise with one another, and their use of math and money skills during cookie season.

I can say the most challenging client I’ve had was Repair Brands, but I stepped up to the challenge, and the client really appreciated my project management skills.

DH+: Everyone at DH enjoys the work of the Fun Committee. How did that come about?
CS: Rene sent an email asking if anyone was interested in joining a Fun Committee, and I was on board right away. When you spend as much time, or more, at work than at home, you want the environment to be somewhere you look forward to going. I enjoy finding ways to celebrate DH+, its employees, and our culture. A motto I remember from my past is “If we’re not having fun, we’re doing it wrong.”

DH+: What are some things you enjoy doing away from work?
CS: I have a lot:

  • Spending time with my three grandchildren
  • Volunteering for Bluegrass Care Navigators, a non-profit Hospice org in Northern KY, delivering flowers, sewing bone & memory pillows, military blankets, and visiting “friends” assigned.
  • I love whitewater rafting. I’ve rafted the upper & lower New River, and the upper & lower Gauley River during Gauley season (check out some YouTube videos of Pillow Rock & Sweets Falls, to see why it took me a while to get up the courage to raft those.)
  • Kayaking, ziplining, hiking and camping.
  • Gardening is therapeutic. Always plant more than needed in hopes of donating to Be Concerned here in Covington.
  • I enjoy crafting, sewing, reading and listening to all genres of music.

I’ve never had a bucket list. If there’s something I want to do, I just do it. I went parasailing in Aruba, and I went skydiving by myself because I couldn’t get anyone to go with me.

DH+: Who or what inspires you? Both personally and professionally?
CS: My mother inspired me personally and professionally. I got my work ethic from her. As a kid, I remember how far she walked to and from work, and I never heard her complain. It is because of the struggles I witnessed that I wanted to work hard for a better life. I knew if I worked hard, was honest and willing to help others, it would go a long way.

Professionally, I would have to say Yvonne Starkey-Posey, a prior supervisor. I’ve never met a more passionate individual. I loved to watch her present media strategy to clients. You couldn’t help but get caught up in her enthusiasm. She would make you want to learn more and do more.

DH+: Pick one of the following and tell us why you chose that one.
Comedy or drama / Comedy! There’s too much drama in the world. We need laughter.
Ice Cream or Cake / Ice cream. It’s refreshing and doesn’t make you feel like a Bloatasaurus Rex.
Classic Rock or Current Pop / Classic rock. A lot of true musical talent back in the day.
Movie or Book / Book. In my experience, the book is always better than the movie.
Success or Happiness / Happiness all day long! Success doesn’t always bring happiness.

DH+: If you had to choose one song to play on the jukebox for the rest of your life–only one–what song is it, and why?
CS: Cover of To Sir with Love by Natalie Merchant & Michael Stipe–I never tire of hearing it; the sax solo gives me chills. I always liked the original by LuLu and the movie To Sir with Love w/Sidney Poitier. I’m an old soul.

Cathy, on behalf of everyone here at DeanHouston, we want to say thank you for your service to our country, and for all the great work you do here every day!

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