Not many people at Extra Space Storage can say they’ve been with the company since 1999, but James Overturf can. As Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Overturf oversees the company’s customer acquisition team, which covers branding, customer experience, data science, digital marketing, social media, and revenue management. In addition, he works closely with information technology functions consisting of core systems, engineering, security, telecom, and web development.
In the following Q&A, Overturf shares more about his career with Extra Space Storage, including the advice he’s received from his mentors, the most challenging aspect of his work, and the projects he’s proud of.
Q: How did your career path lead you to Extra Space Storage?
A: I worked with a couple of individuals at a high-tech company in the mid-1990s that were the primary investors in Extra Space Storage and wanted to grow it into a larger company. They gave me an opportunity to be a part of the founding team. Coming from high-tech, I honestly thought that the business was data storage, not physical storage.
Q: What is the best advice you’ve received in your career?
A: Surround yourself with talented people, create a platform for them to excel, and get out of their way.
Q: Which experience(s) in your career influenced who you are today?
A: I had a couple of opportunities that came to me early in my career where I probably wasn’t the most qualified person for the position, but through confidence, hard work, and honesty, I was able to get my foot in the door. (I worked for nothing at my first “real job”). These opportunities led to bigger and better things. Anything was better after working for nothing!
Q: What has been the most challenging aspect of your career?
A: The most difficult aspect of my career has been learning how to be an effective leader. I learned a lot of managing through observation and making it up as I went along, which resulted in several missteps. It is a learnable skill if you’re willing to put the effort into it.
Q: What has been the most fulfilling aspect of your career?
A: Seeing the growth of the company and the individuals that I’ve had the opportunity to work with over the years who have established themselves as future leaders. Many of us have “grown up” at Extra Space Storage, and it’s really cool to see the culture and opportunities that have been created.
Q: Describe your most successful endeavor with Extra Space Storage.
A: The process of becoming a public company in 2004 was fascinating, frenetic, and fulfilling. I was in multiple roles at that point and had my hand in many aspects of the process. Learning about how capital markets and Wall Street function was an amazing experience.
Q: What advice would you give to future Extra Space Storage leaders?
A: Don’t take yourself too seriously. Learn something new every day. Strive to have a team smarter than you. Coach and mentor yourself out of a job. Don’t be an a**hole.
This article is part of an ongoing series of interviews with Extra Space Storage (NYSE: EXR) team members. James Overturf is the Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at Extra Space Storage.