Courtney Kay, 31, earned a Bachelor of Science in business with a concentration in marketing and sales from Ferris State University. Her first role in the industry was working for Elkem Silicones USA Corp., formerly Bluestar Silicones, as a marketing intern in East Brunswick, N.J.
"I was introduced to the polymers industry by a family friend when I first graduated college almost a decade ago. There's something about this industry that draws you in and makes you never want to leave," she said.
At the silicone manufacturer, Kay has worked in positions from technical service and development representative to sales associate to sales representative. Her jobs have taken her from New Jersey to South Carolina to California. She is now a senior sales representative, a role she started in April 2021.
Kay has received several awards for her work, including successful contributions at trade shows, establishing relationships with multiple key target accounts, developing new applications to expand the company's portfolio, generating revenue in a new market and creating new business for Elkem "during dynamic market conditions."
"My greatest achievement thus far has been building a multimillion-dollar revenue stream for Elkem Silicones by introducing the company to new applications in the medical industry. As a result, we've had the opportunity to develop new products, expand our team and manufacturing footprint," she said.
Kay is also involved with the Octane Aesthetics Tech Forum, the Los Angeles Rubber Group Inc. and the Surfaces in Biomaterials Foundation. "The foundation brings together a group of passionate individuals from industrial, academic, clinical and regulatory communities and fosters an environment of education and cross-collaboration," she said, "with the goal of developing new technologies in biomedical material science."
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Q: What about the plastics industry surprises you?
Kay: When I entered the polymers industry in 2013, I had no idea how many applications and markets would utilize silicone (personal care, medical, automotive, electronics, textiles, construction). I was also surprised by how much goes into the material development to enable products to perform certain ways to meet the requirements of demanding applications. Silicone materials are widely used because they are very adaptable high-performance polymers.
Q: What is the best advice you have ever received?
Kay: When I first started in the industry almost 10 years ago, my mentors at the time explained the importance of starting on the ground floor and learning all aspects of our business operations. During my first few years at Elkem, I focused on learning the business intricacies of our manufacturing, quality, supply chain, sales and marketing functions. These experiences really helped to diversify my perspectives and prepared me for my sales role today.
The additional perspectives that I gained have helped me to empathize with and adapt to the challenges and complexities of each function. These skills have enabled me to strengthen my relationships with my teammates and ultimately drive cross-functional projects to commercial success.
Q: Who is your mentor or someone you look up to?
Kay: My dad. Although he's not here to join in my successes today, he was my mentor and biggest fan throughout the crucial years of my life. He supported my dreams and aspirations, always pushing me to strive for excellence in everything I do. I'm very grateful for the things he taught me as it has shaped me into the person I am today.