Glenn Montgomery (MSES’77) is one of the O’Neill School’s pioneering entrepreneurs from the first MSES class to graduate. He used his O’Neill analytical modeling and geographic information systems (GIS) skills to found Utility Graphics Consultants, UGC Consulting, and GIS Research Corporation. Glenn later combined these and other companies to form Convergent Group, which he and his partners took public and eventually sold. Dean Siân Mooney caught up with Glenn to discuss starting a company, leadership skills, and his time at the O’Neill School.
Your decision to leave your job and start your own company – was that a tough decision?
I felt there was a need to bring my multi-disciplinary skills to take on a wonderful opportunity I came across at the consulting company in Denver where I was working. A close O’Neill friend joined me to develop several complex models for the utility industry that were acceptable to Public Utility Commissions across the US and Canada. The idea and its applications, with software, procurement packages, and implementation services, grew very rapidly, resulting in the company expanding from myself to 550 employees in 49 states and a dozen countries around the world. I left to pursue a range of other interests, travel internationally, and help raise my two children. After 17 years as CEO, the decision to leave was a comfortable one.
What skills or experiences do you think are important for someone who aspires to launch a company or nonprofit?
- Travel locally and globally to see the world and cultures, and embrace diversity.
- Master the concept of, “We accomplish our goals THROUGH other people.”
- Work for someone who has done what you aspire to do. Pay attention and listen.
- Experience goes a long way.
- Whatever you do, pursue your passion.
How can someone build their leaderships skills?
- Find one or two GREAT mentors and cultivate very good relationships.
- Find and study leaders and role models, both past and present. Read leadership and coaching books and websites. Check out The Center for Creative Leadership.
- Volunteer for leadership opportunities and assignments.
- Seek out public speaking opportunities big and small, both in-class and in your community.
- When working in with a small team, volunteer, speak up, offer to lead, and contribute.
- Attend leadership training classes and seminars when the opportunity is available.
- Remember that good leaders have good attitudes.
What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
- Always pick where you truly want to live first, THEN find a professional position and way of life there.
- Be a renaissance person, study many things.
- Remember that everyone has something to teach you.
- Be an excellent listener.
Where are you now and what are you doing?
I live in beautiful La Jolla on the beach in San Diego and enjoy mentoring young entrepreneurs, sailing big boats in the Pacific, trekking hikes throughout Europe, Asia and the Americas, cooking, and writing yet another book.
Sum up your memories of your time at O’Neill in two or three words.
O’Neill changed and broadened my vision of what my professional and personal future could be.