Director, corporate communications, Chico’s FAS
The retail industry is in flux, with the internet disrupting the traditional way big chains do business in brick-and-mortar stores.
And Fort Myers-based Chico’s FAS, where Noelle Casagrande-Montgomery has worked since 2008, is one of many large retailers that have gone through major shifts, from strategies to inventory to the level of employees. For Casagrande-Montgomery that translates to working at a time of rapid changes — one of her passions.
“Our company has a unique spot in the marketplace,” says Casagrande-Montgomery. “I firmly believe in the company’s leadership.”
That particularly includes Shelley Broader, named CEO of Chico’s late last year. Casagrande-Montgomery calls Broader a dynamic leader.
A New Jersey native who grew up mostly in Southwest Florida, Casagrande-Montgomery graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in public relations and business in 2006. For a big Gators fan, she picked an odd place for her first job: Tallahassee. That was with The Zimmerman Agency, which specializes in tourism and hospitality.
In addition to experience with a wide variety of clients, Casagrande-Montgomery says it was at Zimmerman where she had one of her coolest business experiences. It was with an account she managed for the British Virgin Islands, where she often hosted travel journalists. She was there for diving during the Wreck of the Rhone and, a lifelong boating enthusiast, she participated in the annual international Sailing Regatta. She also participated in Bonefishing off Anegada, where she caught a bonefish so large it landed her in a fishing guidebook, “So Many Fish, So Little Time.”
Casagrande-Montgomery’s variety of experiences at Zimmerman helped her land a job at Chico’s, initially as a specialist in public relations. She later helped design, create and develop a social media unit for the company. Several promotions later, Casagrande-Montgomery is now director of corporate communications, a new role in the company’s human resources department.
— Mark Gordon
Name: Noelle Casagrande-Montgomery (Master Captain – yes, as in boating)
City of residence: Cape Coral
Twitter handle: @NCBigHouse (not an avid tweeter!)
Employer: Chico’s FAS, Inc.
Title: Director, Corporate Communications
Birthplace: New Jersey
Years on the Gulf Coast: My family moved to Southwest Florida when I was 4. After attending UF and then working in Tallahassee, I returned 8 years ago, so I’ve been fortunate to live on the Gulf Coast for a total of 23 years.
Marital status/children: Married / No Children
Alma mater: University of Florida (CHOMP! CHOMP!)
Best place to network: Southwest Florida Gator Club events
Coolest business experience: When I worked in Public Relations at The Zimmerman Agency in Tallahassee, one of my accounts was the British Virgin Islands. I had the opportunity to host travel journalists in the BVI on numerous occasions, diving the Wreck of the Rhone, participating in the annual, international Sailing Regatta, as well as Bonefishing off Anegada. I actually caught the largest Bonefish that landed me in a fishing guidebook: So Many Fish, So Little Time.
Messy desk or clean workspace: Clean
Best business lesson ever learned: Know your Wake – as a leader, understand the wake you leave behind with your daily interactions
A website that makes your job easier: Google it – for EVERYTHING you want to know (or not!)
Community group you’re most involved with: Dress for Success SW Florida
Favorite off-hours activity: Anything on or near the water while soaking up the Southwest Florida sunshine
Two people, dead or alive, you’d like to have dinner with: I’m Catholic, so first and foremost, I’d have to pick God! I’d also have dinner with myself 30 years from now for advice and reassurance on the journey ahead.
What you would be doing if you could pick another career: A Captain’s life for me...while empowering others and giving back to the local community in a more impactful way.
Top item on your bucket list: Scuba Dive with a Great White Shark
Skill you’d like to learn: I’d like to learn how to clone myself so I can more efficiently juggle life while realizing ALL of my personal and professional aspirations. Realistically, I’d like to resume learning foreign languages, especially Spanish and Italian.
Who would play you in a movie about your life: Rachel McAdams
If I had a magic wand I’d: …get ready and out the door a lot faster!