Women in Business Q&A: Courtney Jerden, Executive Vice President, Global Business Development, PRIV

Courtney Jerden grew up surrounded by beauty experts. Her mother, a former hair stylist, introduced her to the beauty & fashion industry at a young age. She spent her Saturday mornings admiring her mom's work nestled in the salon hair dryer chairs. Courtney has contributed behind the scenes organizing and producing various fashion shows and has managed creative talent at a prominent Aveda salon in St. Louis. After completing her MBA; she set out for New York City. Courtney was a key member of launching a political social networking startup which then lead her to a career in the digital beauty market space. While working for the promotion-based beauty company, she contributed to the partnership growth of the West Coast market. Now, she is the Global Executive Vice President of PRIV and once again spends her days surrounded by beauty experts.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
Growing up, my parents were great role models.. They let me take risks and taught me how to navigate on my own. I am very grateful for this and appreciate my independence. Because of this I always take on the leader role--even if I'm just leading myself.

How has your previous employment experience aided your position at PRIV?
Managing salons and creative talent in both the fashion and beauty industries gave me the tools to connect with the kinds of professionals we hire at PRIV. They're the foundation of our brand, and understanding how they operate is critical to our business. After completing my MBA, I jumped right into the startup world. I took everything I learned from the creative talent and my education and put it right into action. Moving to New York has proven to be one of the best risks I ever took--and PRIV has been the perfect fit.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at PRIV?
When PRIV's co-founders and I sat down for our first meeting together, I knew this was the beginning of something big. The highlights for me are always the execution of our ideas. We spend so much time planning and brainstorming that actually seeing our ideas come to life is always a thrill.

The biggest challenge--and the most rewarding-- has been our expansion into LA. I love the excitement and commitment that goes into launching a new city. It's a month of long 14 hour days, but thankfully because of PRIV a girl doesn't need much beauty sleep!

What advice can you offer women who are looking to enter the tech and business world?
Observe first, then move fast. It's important to understand how others operate. Know their best assets and then dive right in. Always voice any idea, large or small.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
My work is my life, so it never feels like "work". I love what I do--the people I work with have become my family. I really have found my perfect team.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
I think too often women are scared to take the risk. My biggest risks have always led to my biggest rewards. Confidence is key. If you don't know the answer, Google it!

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
Besides my parents, my bosses are my mentors. Joseph Terzi and Morris Sutton teach me something new every day. They build me up and let me run with my ideas, stepping in and guiding me when necessary. My parents gave me the tools to succeed and my mentors in the business world have given me the opportunities to hone and use these tools.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
I have a top three list of women that I admire and try to be influenced by in my daily life. Number one is Estee Lauder. Who doesn't love a woman who starts a company with a small marketing budget? She lived and breathed the product, selling it on the streets of 5th Ave. I do the same for PRIV. Also Mother Teresa, because I believe it's important to serve others and always give back (something my Grandfather taught me, too). Lastly, Kelly Cutrone: I was inspired after reading her book, If You Have to Cry, Go Outside: And Other Things Your Mother Never Told You, particularly by her quote: "When you're following your inner voice, doors tend to eventually open for you, even if they mostly slam at first." That kept me motivated when I first moved to New York.

What do you want PRIV to accomplish in the next year?
PRIV has already tackled a new market, Los Angeles. By the end of 2014 we will do the same in London. Overall, I want to change the behavior of how women and men book their beauty and wellness needs. Everyone needs their own beauty team. PRIV offers that luxury and makes it convenient, cost effective and accessible.