Dockery Clark is the type of person you wish you could sit down with for days and just listen to her talk. Everything she says is intelligent and witty (yet, she’s so humble that she’ll deny it), and she’s garnered a lot of wisdom throughout her impressive career that includes working for MillerCoors, Bank of America, the Democratic National Committee and now as the Executive Director of the Charlotte Wine and Food Weekend (CWFW). Any time we are with her, we hang on to every word, waiting for the next nugget of information or advice we can pick up from her. We’re honored to introduce you to today’s FACE of Charlotte, Dockery Clark.
Tell us a little about your background.
Well, I have been in the sponsorship business my entire career, first on the property side working for Lamar Hunt and his World Championship Tennis organization, then largely on the corporate side as Global Sponsorship Executive of Bank of America and Sports Marketing Executive at MillerCoors. Lastly, I was the Chief of Staff for the local organizing committee for the DNC in Charlotte. That is why Charlotte Wine & Food was interested in hiring me to be the Executive Director of the Wine Weekend — I had big event experience, had worked in the beverage business and, in essence, had run a start-up non-profit, so it’s a perfect match.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Wow, all I say about that is “hold on!” When you’re in the event business, whether on the management or the sponsorship side, no day is ever the same, and many times, whatever you plan for your day to be, it doesn’t turn out that way. Like a lot of businesses, the urgent can take over the important. Being a deadline-driven business, that happens more times than I would like, but at the same time, I like being able to see the fruits of my labor come alive. And it’s cyclical. At CWFW, there are lots of constituents, so in any given day, I will spend time talking with distributors, wineries, restaurants, retailers, my board and, of course, the name of the game is raising money for our charities, so I must “sell,” meaning pursuing sponsors, marketing the tickets and events and developing media partnerships. Depending on the time of year and where we are in the event cycle, the time spent with each and on each will vary.
What was an early job that taught you something important or useful?
All my roles have taught me something along the way. I have been working since I was 15 years old, first at the local tennis courts in my hometown of Greensboro, which is where I developed my passion for events as we had four events a summer ranging from local, to national, to professional tennis events. But I’d have to say that the job or, more importantly, the person who has taught me the most about business and life in general is Hugh McColl and the 11 years I spent at Bank of America. I am lucky; he was and continues to be a wonderful mentor, and the whole company really invested in the development of its people when I was there.
What’s your favorite part about running Charlotte Wine & Food Weekend?
Having the opportunity to learn more about my passion for food and wine and doing good things for the community at the same time.
What are you looking forward to the most about this year’s event?
We’ve got something for everyone and a really diverse lineup of wineries. We are also focusing more on the food aspect this year, so on Friday night for our Big Bottles & Blues event, we’ll feature almost a dozen Charlotte-area chefs serving up their favorite recipes.
That’s easy, although not that original in Charlotte — Napa Cabernets.
You’re from North Carolina — what brought you to and kept you in Charlotte?
As mentioned, what brought me here was the job with Bank of America, which was NationsBank at the time. The company had just announced its first national sponsorship of the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. It was an easy decision – my sister Carolyn Taylor is a realtor here, and I got the opportunity of a lifetime to work on the Olympics. What’s kept me here is simple: It’s a wonderful place to live. It’s home now, and I value my relationships with friends and family too much to leave.
What’s your favorite thing about Charlotte?
Big city amenities with a small-town feel, proximity to the beach and the weather. I love being outdoors and experiencing new things, so all three are important to me. And the Charlotte Wine & Food Weekend of course!
Best piece of advice?
Listen well and be solutions-oriented. I’ve negotiated a lot of big deals over the course of my career, and if you can find out what a “win” is for the other side, you’ll succeed every time.
You juggle a lot of hats. Is there a productivity tip you swear by?
Be willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done. I have always said, I would never ask someone to do something I wouldn’t do. Glamorous or not, I make speeches, I hang banners. It’s that simple.
What would you tell your younger self?
Oh Lord, there are a lot of things, maybe too many to list. No regrets, but mainly I would say not everything is a competition, though winning with friends is rewarding.
Is there a motto/mantra you live by?
Have fun or don’t go. And, always leave while you’re still having fun!
What are three things you can’t live without, besides faith, family and friends?
Golf, red wine and the Tar Heels, not necessarily in that order.
Read about more inspiring women in Charlotte — check out our FACES archives.
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