Perspective and humor key for PR pros, says Harman's Davis

Paula Davis, VP, corporate affairs and comms, Harman, discusses career lessons, SNL sketches, and why she loves Chicago.

Morning ritual
Up at 6:30am, followed by playtime with my daughter, checking the news, and responding to overnight emails.

First site or app you check in the morning
The Wall Street Journal is my go-to, followed by USA Today, TheSkimm, and The Week.

If you ruled the world for a day
I’d assemble a dream team of turnaround experts, entrepreneurs, and other doers such as my CEO Dinesh Paliwal, Condoleezza Rice, Angela Merkel, and my parents and siblings to get some things done.

What book are you in the middle of?
When Character was King by Peggy Noonan and the children’s book classic Goodnight Moon, which I can – and sometimes do – recite in my sleep.

Favorite city to do business in
I lived in Chicago for 10 years and I still miss the people, food, music, and neighborhoods.

Favorite place to grab a business drink
Anywhere on Michigan Avenue in Chicago. In the summer, I love the courtyard at St. Bart’s in Midtown New York.

Most distinct aspect of your personal office
My JBL Charge 2 signed by Kiss, University of Michigan gnome, and photos of my favorite Saturday Night Live skits that mysteriously appear on my walls when I’m away.

Favorite smartphone app
Ink, as it lets you create and send customized cards from iPhone photos.

On a scale of one to 10, how hard is your commute
Three if there’s no traffic and a good Howard Stern interview. Five with traffic.

First marketing or PR job
As an administrative assistant at Sara Lee, I spent hours every morning cutting and pasting the daily clips and faxing them.  

I volunteered to write everything to build my portfolio and it was a wonderful experience being surrounded by the company’s amazing collection of fine art – and free pound cake. I was incredibly fortunate to work for Ron Culp, who became my longtime mentor.

Lesson you wish you knew before starting a career in PR
Keep things in perspective, apologize when something goes awry, and keep a sense of humor at all times.

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