Marina Cortese: Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur

We sat down with Oats & Ivy Managing Director Marina Cortese to find out what inspired her career, where she sees herself in 5 years, and what advice she would share with other young professionals…


1. Describe what you do in less than 140 characters. Go.
I’m the managing partner at Oats & Ivy. From menu planning to smoothie making, staff training to marketing strategy, I’m involved in every aspect of the business.

2. What was the inspiration for your career route?
When I graduated from university I had no idea, no route mapped out, and one of my mentors wrote me a letter that I still refer to and said, “do whatever you like without fear of making a mistake. The onus is on you to perform at your best with the lofty goal of actually being one of the best in your chosen career. Mediocrity in your career is not an option.”

3. What is the most memorable milestone in your career so far?
Opening our first Oats & Ivy location. That first day was such a chaotic thrill. Everything was new, everyone was excited, we didn’t really know what we were doing or what to expect; we were just happy people came for lunch! And they keep coming back.

4. Where do you see yourself in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years?
In five years I’ll be 33 with multiple Oats & Ivy locations, a couple more stamps on my passport, and maybe a mortgage?

In ten years, I’ll probably have… a dog? Oh, and Oats & Ivy will be a national brand. 

In twenty years I’ll be 48 and with any “luck” will still be living the Oats & Ivy dream but with a little more time to give back, travel and spend with my family.

5. Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Find something you believe in and work your butt off. Do it wholeheartedly, enthusiastically and fully commit. Push yourself past your comfort zone. Remember to take time for yourself so your friends and family don’t forget what you look like!

6. Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is it (or they) important to you?
I told my dad when I was a kid that I wanted to be a philanthropist so I try to give back as much as I can within my means. The treatment of animals, environmental causes and people (living without food, shelter, basic rights & necessities) are the three that tug most at my heartstrings.

7. What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
I wanted to start a business and had no formal business training. I overcame that hurdle by doing a lot of reading and research. I’m learning as I go and trying to stay ahead of the. I found myself a mentor to guide me with the startup and now I have an amazing business partner who’s been where I’ve been and motivates & challenges me.

8. What does the word notable mean to you?
Making an impact. Striving to be exceptional. Genuine & influential.



1. Where is your favourite place to wine/ dine in your city and why?
Ooooh that’s a toughie. Buca is my favourite for Italian. Everything Rob Gentile does is incredible. Le Select is my favourite for brunch wining and dining.

2. What’s the most visited website on your Internet browser? The most played song on your phone?
Sadly, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. The most played song is Vampire Weekend’s “Diane Young”.

3. Who’s one person you think everyone should be following on social media?
Anna Kendrick (@annakendrick47) and Sarah Silverman (@SarahKSilverman) are both hilarious women who tell it like it is!

4. What’s your favourite country to visit and why? And what’s the next one you plan on travelling to?
The Galapagos Islands in Ecuador. I spent two months volunteering there and I’ve never been anywhere more beautiful and peaceful. No cell phone, sea lions napping on bus benches, pineapples eaten as soon as they’re picked, and the nicest beaches I’ve ever seen. I can’t wait to go back someday.

Next country will probably be Sweden or Scotland or somewhere in the Mediterranean – maybe Spain or Italy. Travelling is a slippery slope because once you start you get that itch to keep going. There’s so much world to see!

5. What gives you the greatest FOMO?
Honestly, I’ve never experienced it. If I miss out on something there’ll probably be a “next time”.

6. What’s your guiltiest pleasure?
A lazy night in my sweatpants on my couch, snuggling with my cats, Netflix, wine and going to bed early.

7. What’s something you wish you didn’t spend so much money on? What’s something you wish you spent more on?
Less: Cat food!
More: Human food!

8. And finally, what does success look like to you? Work, play, or otherwise…
If I know I’ve given my all at work and in life (as a daughter/sister/girlfriend/friend), if I can make a small, positive impact in one person’s life every day, I’d consider myself to be successful.