TorchLight February Contractor of the Month: Pat Lute

by Susan Mullin

Congratulations to Pat Lute for her selection as our February Contractor of the Month! Read on to get to know Pat—in and out of the office.

Pat Lute sitting on a park bench
February Contractor of the Month: Pat Lute

Where did you grow up and where did you go to college? What did you study?

I grew up in Northern Indiana near Lake Michigan. I took a gap year after high school and lived in Charleston, SC with a sibling. After that, I started college at the College of Charleston and then transferred and graduated from George Washington University where I majored in Political Science and minored in Economics.

What did (or do!) you want to be when you grow up? How did you get into marketing and communications?

When I was little, I wanted to be a race car driver. Growing up in Indiana, the Indy 500 was a big deal and those fast cars thrilled me. During my first job out of college, I met the woman who turned out to be my most significant mentor. She encouraged me to go into PR, gave me my first position as a manager and I’ve never looked back. She seemed to know that I would be good at it–how, I don’t know–but she just knew. Not only that, but she remains a family friend to this day.

What do you like to do for fun? (Pre-COVID, currently or both 😊)

What I used to enjoy for fun pre-COVID was dining out. I loved staying on top of all the chefs and their restaurants. A lot of my travel was planned to specifically dine at new restaurants. Previously, I did communications in the food world so I had lots of interactions with chefs and the newest food and dining trends. What has replaced that now is takeout from a handful of favorite DC restaurants like Kinship, The Dabney, Masseria, Pineapple & Pearls and Fiola—it’s not nearly as enjoyable, but it feels important to support them.

Favorite food? Drink?

Favorite food—too many to name. I love shopping year-round at my local farmers’ market and anything I can buy in-season and bring home is easy to turn into something delicious. Favorite drink—WINE! My wine education has been years in the making and I’ve visited vineyards all over the US and Europe. If I had to make a desert island choice, I think it would be a good red from the Rhone Valley in France.

One bucket list destination?

I’d love to see the Northern Lights in Norway someday. The natural beauty of that experience would be spectacular.

What’s the best advice a manager has ever given you?

Be prepared to be wrong and don’t be afraid to own up to it. Great original ideas can come out of making mistakes.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in their career?

You can’t grow without stepping outside of your comfort zone. Encouraging yourself to be a lifelong learner keeps things interesting.

What work accomplishment are you most proud of?

Most significantly, I would have to say the sense of satisfaction and accomplishment from mentoring the younger women I have worked with. I remain in touch with many of them and to see what they have done with their careers and lives is so inspiring! Additionally, I have many friends that I have made along the way. I can’t imagine what life would be like without them.

What has been the biggest plus about working from home during the pandemic? Challenge?

I’ve worked in many office settings, but most recently, by having my own business, I was completely set up with a home office so I was experienced at working remotely–which was a HUGE help. I definitely eat healthier when working from home … not tempted by treats around the office or grabbing something for lunch that was convenient but not healthy. Also, I theorize that for me, working from home is a little less stressful because I’m in an environment that is so comfortable.

The biggest challenge was on-boarding to my current position. I had only met two members of my team when I interviewed initially and then everyone went remote because of COVID. It seems completely de rigueur now, but obviously, the human connection with the online version face-to-face contact is not perfect. I miss not being able to pop into a colleague’s office to ask a quick question or just to say hello and find out how they’re doing.

Finally, what do you like about being a TorchLight contractor?

Contracting with TorchLight has been a terrific experience!! I can’t imagine a nicer, more helpful, or positive group of individuals. Everyone tries so hard to do their best under these unusual circumstances and so generous with their time and support. Special shout out to HR guru Susan Mullin who I have had to bother way too often!

Congratulations again to our February Contractor of the Month, Pat Lute. Keep up the good work! Check out our last Contractor of the Month, Ashley Powdar.

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