Photo/Cori Gordon Facebook
In a world where Black people’s skills and talents are often undermined, Cori Gordon has proved them wrong. It's nothing short of a big deal that a Black, Jamaican woman became a CEO and one of Amazon's youngest Delivery Service Partner. But at the same time, it's no surprise whatsoever. After all, Caribbean people excel in every environment and Cori is no exception.
At 29 years old, Cori Gordon is leading a delivery services business that is flourishing in its partnership with the multi-trillion-dollar e-commerce giant Amazon. But what led the young CEO to become an entrepreneur?
Corporate Burnout Became A Blessing In Disguise
Coming from a family of entrepreneurs, the Jamaica native felt that entrepreneurship was simply in her blood. However, for years, it was nothing more than a distant thought. After experiencing burnout from working 80+ hours a week for someone else, her desire to run her own business became top of mind. " "I just needed something that was more personal and that felt like I was investing in my own," she said to the United Student Movement during an interview at her alma mater, Northern Caribbean University.
To find the right business venture, Cori scoured the web for business opportunities with built-in customer demand and a clear roadmap to success. Amazon's Delivery Service Partner (DSP) program appeared on her screen like a divine intervention. There was no doubt in her mind that this program was exactly what she needed. After all, Amazon is the most popular ecommerce retailer in the U.S. The company also invests substantially in training and development resources and provides aspiring entrepreneurs with the tools they need to establish and run their business. Entrepreneurs benefit from Amazon's technology, infrastructure, a business coach, and value-added services including uniforms and vehicle insurance, all of which worked in Cori's favor.
Cortoyou, LLC CEO Cori Gordon Shares Key Secret to Success
Gordon started her business with 15 employees and that number has since increased to over 100 employees inclusive of more than 50 drivers and a management team. The company Cortoyou, LLC delivers packages from the Amazon Staten Island fulfillment center to customers in Brooklyn where she resides. The most rewarding part of having started her own business she said, is the fact that she provided jobs to people who needed it the most, especially during the pandemic.
Cori Gordon's Life Before Becoming A CEO
Born in Bog Walk, St. Catherine on the island of Jamaica, Cori was raised by her paternal grandparents and her father. Her mother would visit her several times a week and despite their separation, Cori's parents maintained a cordial relationship for the sake of her healthy upbringing. After receiving a Business Administration degree at Northern Caribbean University in 2013, Gordon immigrated to North Carolina to live with her maternal grandparents before moving to the Northeast a few years later.
Gordon kicked off her career with an internship at KPMG, a global accounting firm. Having minored in Accounting the internship at KPMG was a dream come true. She had always wanted to work for a large accounting firm. However, Cori soon realized that sitting behind a computer screen balancing numbers all day just wasn't for her. Craving more human interaction, the extrovert applied for jobs in accounting-related fields that would offer more people engagement but was rejected again and again by every employer.
Her breakthrough moment came when Cori landed a job as a sales associate at Nordstrom. She confessed on the podcast 'Ladies Who Leverage' that it was a risk being hired by fashion company. She knew nothing about fashion, sales, or retail but was offered the position because of her soft skills, which were essential for the job.
During her first 6 months at Nordstrom, Cori Gordon demonstrated unrivalled performance and work ethic which earned her the manager's post for the next 4 years. Her sales were the highest in the region for consecutive months. In the manager role reports having learned key leadership skills which aided in Cortoyou's development. Her numerous accolades at Nordstrom also helped Cori realize she was capable of more than she ever thought possible.
How Her Caribbean Family Values Influenced Her
Cori never fails to express gratitude to her family for the success that she has today. From an early age, her parents preached the importance of an education and self-empowerment. They also trusted the eldest of nine to make her own choices. With that freedom came accountability. Gordon knew she was responsible for shaping the life she wanted for herself. As such, she was determined to excel at every opportunity entrusted to her.
Her core values were mirrored from her parents. Gordon admired her father’s relentless pursuit of success in his enterprises and her mother's resilience, even in the face of fluctuating reward. Cori asserts that her parents showed her that commitment to a cause is always rewarded. Today, she still channels her mother's resilience to sustain her on challenging days and her father's dedication when moments are overwhelming.
Knowing that she is paving a path for others that look like her, she believes in showing up as her authentic self wherever she goes. There is no separation between the Jamaican Cori and the CEO Cori. They both exist within her as one entity. She owes all of the best parts of her to her Jamaican upbringing, particularly her indomitable spirit and abhorrence for excuses.
While Cori Gordon has reached this historic marker, she believes one should always create space for growth and development. As the world slowly adapts to new realities and businesses evolve, we can't wait to see what’s next for Cori Gordon.