Speaker Profile: Acclaimed Life-Business Strategist Cortney McDermott

At the foundation of every groundbreaking moment there's a Pioneer.  At the Pioneer Mode Conference, we are bringing you the individuals who are on a mission to transform industry pain points into exciting opportunities to grow, design, and revolutionize. Our Speaker Profiles are a snapshot of the people behind the ideas of the future. 


Cortney McDermott is an acclaimed life-business strategist. As a highly successful entrepreneur, she now advises executives of Fortune 500 companies on communication strategies, work-life balance, and sustainability. Like a true Pioneer, Cortney has taken a somewhat unorthodox approach towards sustainability. Rather than focusing on relieving its symptoms; instead, she encourages people to connect to the larger question of why we have created these problems in the first place.

Counting green house gas emissions or emphasizing recycling initiatives, though helpful, are the kind of measures furthest from Cortney’s approach towards sustainability.  “The primary challenge humanity faces” she says, “is not planetary. It’s personal. And the primary challenge facing us personally is how we think.” By that logic, if the problems we face in regards to sustainability are personal then so are our solutions.  Sustainability is not just a concern for the fashion industry. It is a hurdle in every business, home, and life that currently exists on the planet. And until we recognize that we all hold an individual stake in creating a sustainable future we will be stuck trying to fix the symptoms of our recklessness.  

So how do we do that?

We start to change the way we think. Rather than dedicating our attention to the problem, our energy is better spent on innovating a solution. Sustainability cannot be achieved overnight and it definitely cannot be achieved alone. In order to fully remedy the damage we’ve done we must do it collectively whether through personal initiative or a larger platform, like Pioneer Mode, which allows us to connect and collaborate. Through her work, Cortney strives to educe our innate ability to shape our reality whether that means positively contributing to a sustainable future or taking a step closer to our dreams.  We hope her talk at Pioneer Mode 2015 illuminates your inner light so we can shine our way towards a healthier future, together. 

 Property of cortinc.com

Property of cortinc.com

Among Cortney’s many accolades, she is also an award winning writer, educator, and certified cultural mediator in three languages. Cortney has also served as an executive at Vanity Fair, Vice President at Sustainability Partners, Professor of graduate studies for a consortium of Big Ten universities, and Chair of global business organizations. She currently lives with her husband and daughter in the North of Italy. To learn more connect with her here.

by: Amanda Pickens for Pioneer Mode