MARCH 15, 2018 | BY EKIM BUYUK AND SHRUTI RAO
Courtney Montgomery was the Vice President of Marketing at INTURN, a B2B enterprise software solution enabling large brands to sell their excess inventory to off- price retailers. She developed the company’s brand and managed all marketing, advertising, and PR efforts. Prior to INTURN, Courtney was Chef Web Officer at Nicole Miller, an iconic women’s fashion company, where she led the digital sector of the brand and gained deep insight into the fashion industry. Courtney graduated from Duke University with a B.A. in Biological Anthropology and Anatomy, and in her free time, she loves to hike with friends, go for runs, meet new people, and do jigsaw puzzles. She recently moved to San Francisco and can’t wait to see what’s in store for her this coming year!
What was your favorite part of being in BOW?
My favorite part about being in BOW was (and is) interacting with its other members. Duke has some incredible women, and being part of a group whose women are focused on being the best and the most successful is inspiring and empowering at the same time. It is really nice to know that I have the BOW network to lean on and learn from as I continue to develop my career.
Could you talk a little bit about your summer experiences while at Duke and how they influenced your career path?
Most people look at their summer experiences as a way to figure out what they want to do. I looked at it a bit differently: I was interested in so many things that I hoped to narrow down my possibilities. The summer after freshman year, I worked as a marketing intern at a medical device company in Silicon Valley, following my interest in biology. I quickly learned that while I did love marketing, the medical device industry was not for me. My second summer I was a fellow at DukeEngage in Hyderabad, India, teaching impoverished children minimal English. While this experience wasn’t exactly a step forward in figuring out my career, it did make me grow up and become a more confident and resourceful person. My last summer while at Duke, I worked as a marketing intern at a start-up in San Francisco that provided its customers with luxury experiences. As with my first internship, I continued to love the challenge of marketing. I also discovered how much I liked to be on a small team in the luxury space, especially working with the more product-focused companies in the fashion area. To be certain that fashion was a good fit, I attended a few fashion-related conferences in NYC during my second semester as a senior. These experiences solidified my decision that I wanted to be in fashion after I graduated, something I never would have guessed as an incoming Freshman four years earlier.
Could you talk a little bit about your move from NYC to San Fransisco?
New York has treated me extremely well the past almost six years, and I was fortunate to have a very successful career there. However, being a native West-Coaster (I was born in the Bay Area), I was lured back to California by its laid-back atmosphere and milder weather. I also wanted a new challenge in a new market and was intrigued by the technology-first, fast-paced industry of San Francisco.
What are the biggest challenges you've faced during your career?
The biggest challenge was learning to tune out what other people thought I should do and focus on what I believed was best for me. Everyone has an opinion, and most people want to convince you to their point of view. It took me a while to learn to listen to myself as well as the comments of others, then consider all the input and make a decision that was the right one for me. Many people advised me not to go into fashion as a science major; I did and love the field. Others told me I would hate NYC, that I wasn’t built for the city; I love NYC and was successful living there. It’s all about knowing who you are and working hard to accomplish your own personal goals.
What strategies have you used to maintain and grow your network? How has that helped you throughout your career?
Never burn bridges. That is probably the best advice I’ve ever been given as it relates to networking and is advice that I live by. Because the world is becoming such an interconnected place, you never know who you will work for or with in the future, or who you will need to call on for help or advice. Another strategy along the same lines is to always “play it forward”, meaning be generous with your time, help connect others and always be polite. It’s a great way to “pay back” and thank those who’ve mentored you during your professional life. These may seem like simple ideas, but they have proven to be helpful throughout my career and with my network.
What has been the role of mentors in your growth and development?
Mentors have been very helpful to my career development. I have learned from them most how to think about my current place in relation to my goals and the companies that I work for. Hearing their stories and how they tackled situations has given me inspiration for my decisions and how I assess what my next steps are in my career.
If there was anything you could change about either past academic or career experiences, what would you change and why?
I honestly have to say I wouldn’t change a thing. I am happy with how my career has played out thus far. Every experience I have had, whether wonderful or not so perfect, has helped me grow in different ways and made my career what it is today.