Tiffany Montague ’96: Space Commander

How She Got That Job

by Christina Barber-Just

Tiffany Montague ’96Tiffany Montague ’96
Smith Major
Computer science, with a minor in economics
Current Job
Officially, Montague is a business development manager in Google’s New Business Development group, but the title on her business card reads “Intergalactic Federation King Almighty and Commander of the Universe.” Google employees get to express themselves on their cards, Montague says.
What She Does
Montague manages two major space-related projects: Google’s relationship with NASA (“government space”) and the Google Lunar X PRIZE (“commercial space”). Google Moon, Google Mars, and Google Sky—all features of the mapping program Google Earth—came largely out of Google’s collaboration with NASA, which Montague spearheaded. The Google Lunar X PRIZE is an international competition for privately funded teams to send a robotic rover to the moon. At $30 million, it’s the largest incentive prize ever offered, Montague says.
Career Path
Montague finished school early in her native United Kingdom and enrolled at Smith at age 16 with dreams of going to space as a NASA astronaut. To that end, she spent all four of her Smith years in the Reserve Officers’ Training Program (ROTC) at the University of Massachusetts and joined the Air Force as soon as she graduated. She rose to the rank of captain during her nine-year military career, which peaked with a stint doing high-altitude flight test engineering for the National Reconnaissance Office. She abandoned her astronautical aspirations when she started working for Google in 2005 (“I realized I could influence the space business in other ways”) but still has every intention of going to space, perhaps as a commercial explorer: “I absolutely will get there someday.”
Want Her Job?
To get ahead in the male-dominated fields of space exploration and the military, Montague advises cultivating a strong personality. Be outspoken, say what’s on your mind, and don’t tiptoe around anything.
The Last Word
“Google is famous for thinking big and doing things that can change humanity,” Montague says. “I couldn’t have a better job.”
SAQ Winter 2010-11