Ten years into her career at HCC Marketing in Barrington, Kerry Chaffer learned from a confidant that the “chemistry” she engendered in making clients comfortable was not necessarily her biggest asset.
“I think I hid the smarts behind the personality and I didn’t have to do that,” she told Providence Business News in an interview about her role as partner at HCC. “I was smart and that’s what I brought to the table. It took a while to give myself permission to [promote] that.”
Chaffer, a partner at the marketing communications company, declined to name the person who advised her, noting it was somebody she respected.
“He said it to be helpful,” she said. “He was saying: ‘I recognize the strengths you have building chemistry, but you’re also really smart and you’ve got to play that card more.’ It’s made a difference in everything. It’s empowering. I took myself more seriously, and subsequently, so did everybody else.”
Chaffer’s first job after getting her degree in journalism in 1975 at the University of Rhode Island was in the public affairs office at Bryant University, when it was still known as Bryant College. After that, she worked for the United Way’s communications division until she joined Duffy & Shanley in 1979. The journalism degree was “great preparation” for marketing because it requires distilling a subject to its most salient points and telling a story, she said.
After a stint with Pagano, Schenck and Kay, she moved on, in 1989, to Mariani, Hurley and Chandler, which would later become HCC.
An avid tennis player who lives with her husband, Frederick Massie, in Warren, Chaffer, 61, says she never planned on becoming partner, which happened in 1992, and having her name added, two years later, to the company name at the time, Hurley, Chandler and Chaffer. (In 2010, the name was changed to HCC Marketing.)