Memorial University’s Alumna of the Year award went to Catherine Courage this year.
To quote MUN’s press release, “If you Googled Memorial’s Alumna of the Year Award recipient for 2017, Catherine Courage, an executive at that very same technology corporation – would be the top result.”
Courage is the vice president of ads and commerce user experience at Google Inc., where she leads a team of 300 employees in 4 countries. Her department is Google’s economic engine: it rakes in more than $60 billion in annual revenue. You could say she’s a big deal. In 2014, she was named one of the Top 50 Most Powerful Women in Technology by the National Diversity Council.
Since making the big move to San Francisco’s famed tech mecca, Silicon Valley, she trailblazed her way to Google via headturning leadership positions at companies like DocuSign, Citrix, Oracle, and Salesforce.com.
During that trailblazing, Courage was recognized as one of Silicon Valley’s Top 40 Under 40. In 2013, she made Forbes’ list of Top 10 Rising Stars at The World’s Most Innovative Companies. That same year, Silicon Valley Business Journal named her a top woman of influence in tech. Her work on design thinking has been featured in Harvard Business Review, The Wall Street Journal, and TEDx.
She is a board member for the Fortune 500 Company, and a sought-after speaker who frequently presents on the topics of creativity, innovation, and design.
She has been actively involved with Clinton Global Initiatives for Girls, which “works toward a world where more girls and women can achieve full participation in all aspects of life,” as well as being involved with TechWomen and TechWomen Canada, which ” empowers, connects and supports the next generation of women leaders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics .”
Courage has spoken to Memorial’s Faculty of Medicine and the Genesis Centre on the need for more women in leadership, and recently shared her expertise with the NL Association of Technology Industries (NATI) through engagements such as the Women in Technology Group.
Wherever she’s worked, she’s be known for transforming corporate cultures to focus on creativity and customer-focused innovation. Google is no exception, and she’s been loving the flexibility Google gives employees to spread their wings and shine, as they pursue their big ideas.
Recently, she told the CBC that being a Newfoundlander has helped her career. Newfoundlanders are more people-focussed than most, and this bred into her an approach of focusing on co-workers as much as the task at hand, to build efficient and effective teamwork. Her insight into understanding people no doubt motivated the book she co-wrote too, Understanding Your Users.
Courage stays connected to her home province as a member of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Private Sector Advisory Committee for the development of the Business Innovation Agenda. Which could explain all of the utterly impressive, world-leading stories of tech innovation coming out of the province lately.
In fact, she was back home recently as a guest speaker for “Accelerating Innovation,” a weeklong event where innovators and startups talked about ways to boost tech innovation and revenues in our province.