Gloria Dittus has sat at conference tables with BP executives and attended state dinners at the White House, but at the Chamber of Commerce Women in Business luncheon Tuesday she was just glad to be back home.
“It’s so great to come home,” she said. “And to a town that I know first-hand has a better grasp on what’s really going on than most people in Washington.”
Dittus told the story of growing up on McDowell Street in Augusta, graduating from Augusta College and working her way up to being one of the nation’s top public relations professionals.
Now with more than 30 years of experience representing clients such as Shell Oil and Kraft Foods, she addressed a crowded ballroom about the importance of teamwork and respect for others in the tough business and public arenas.
“Today, the word ‘compromise’ is frowned upon,” she said. “But really, sharing knowledge and networks to help everyone is what gets you ahead.”
There was a learning curve to go from being an Augusta girl to a D.C. public relations insider, she said. The teamwork she has grown to value, she believes women of her generation had to learn later in life. Men learned how to work together on the football field, she said, but before the Title IX Act in 1972 opened up team sports to girls and women they had few opportunities to learn those social skills.
“Men knew that they might not like the guy on third base, but they needed him to win,” she said. “Women of my generation had to learn teamwork in the conference room or somewhere else, not the athletic field.”
Dittus said her secret to success all boils down to something her grandmother used to tell her.
“Hire people smarter and better-looking than you, and you’ll succeed,” she said with a smile. “Maybe it will rub off on you.”