Developing leaders with diverse perspectives: Getting to know Courtney Schmidt

A professionally dressed woman with short blonde hair smiles at the camera. Text on the right reads "Courtney Schmidt, Senior Director" next to a red logo. The background features a pattern of gray and red triangles, emphasizing her commitment to developing leaders through diverse perspectives.

We sat down with Courtney Schmidt as part of Women’s History Month to hear more about her journey at Atwell and within the industry. While the industry continues to make great strides toward a more balanced workforce, it remains male-dominated for many specialties. Courtney joined Atwell as a Senior Director to lead Program and Development Services for renewable energy clients, and the function has continued to grow and evolve under her leadership.

Tell us more about your role here at Atwell.

Courtney: I joined Atwell in early 2022 and am committed to the ongoing coordinated growth of our clients. I collaborate with subject matter experts to meet client needs, assembling the appropriate team based on project requirements. Together, we align on deadlines and responsibilities, striving to deliver a seamless experience for our clients.

How has the Program and Development Services function evolved?

Courtney: Our approach has evolved as clients increasingly acknowledge the value of leveraging multiple service groups within Atwell. This recognition extends to supporting clients and projects interconnected with various teams within our Power & Energy team. We prioritize and manage these interconnected initiatives on behalf of the client. This strategic alignment with our clients’ needs has fueled growth in 2023 and into 2024, both with existing and new clients.

Can you share more on your career journey and how you developed your passion for leading teams?

Courtney: As I neared the completion of law school, it became clear that the traditional path of practicing law within a firm did not quite resonate with my career aspirations. Consequently, I searched for alternative avenues to apply my education. This led me to the telecom infrastructure development industry.

In this capacity, I utilized my skills to offer consulting services, initially focusing on navigating the complexities of challenging permitting markets. Over time, I expanded my client base into new territories, necessitating the recruitment and formation of dedicated teams.

These opportunities ignited my passion for growth – not only in terms of business expansion but also in the diversification of our service offerings and client relationships.

By nature, I’m a builder. I like building out things and looking at how to find a solution. Organization and business development has also become an important part of my career and experience, and I appreciate the challenge that comes with determining how a team can maximize the opportunities in front of them.

How have you navigated a mostly male industry and excelled in that environment?

Courtney: I think the best path to opportunity, no matter who you are, is bringing great ideas to the table. Bringing opportunities to those around you is how you can advance as a leader. Whoever is bringing a thoughtful idea to the discussion is the voice you should hear. It’s not who talks the most, but who can identify something that will work.

I also think that by being different, whether that is your gender or other background experiences, you may also have an incredibly unique perspective to add to the team. That’s why you’re starting to see more women succeeding in this industry and many others.

What advice would you give someone looking at the industry, particularly young women?

Courtney: There are certainly many opportunities and ways to apply your skills. I’d suggest not being too narrow in your approach to what you want to do early and taking on a variety of projects and roles. That can help you gain really valuable experience and hone in on what you want to do with your career as you grow.

How do you inspire inclusion as a leader?

Courtney: To foster inclusion as a leader, it’s crucial to consider the entire team, not just managers or subject matter experts. This means actively involving individuals across all roles and levels within the organization. Empowering team members to contribute ideas and make decisions is key. I believe in assembling a diverse and talented team and ensuring they are equipped to lead meetings with clients and drive initiatives independently. In my view, the success of our team should never solely rely on one individual’s presence. Inclusion is fundamental for both individual career development, team development, and the overall growth of our company.