February 28, 2001, 12:00 AM

Ashford’s CEO brings the focus of a concert pianist to online luxury retailing

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Kurtzman also draws on his background as a way to relate to the company’s clientele. While attending Rice, Kurtzman spent two summers on an archeological dig in Rome. “I wasn’t an archeology major, but I spoke Italian and was willing to dig dirt, so they sent me over,” he says. At age 12, he lived in Florence for a year while his father did research. Knowing Italian, having lived in Europe and knowing piano has acclimated Kurtzman to the luxury-goods industry. “The other things I do besides run Ashford help when talking with industry people because they like to talk about those kinds of things,” he says.

Kurtzman believes that whether it’s sports, music or business, it takes both clear analysis and passion to be a winner. “My background is very analytical, very numbers driven,” he says. “The luxury goods industry is much more about design and passion and heart. Combining those two is what we have to do. We’re bringing analytical technology to an industry that’s run on guts and passion. That’s been very interesting.”


Kenny Kurtzman

- Background

– 1989 to 1995McKinsey & Co., principal in
computing, telecommunications, systems
integration, banking and energy industries

– 1995 to 1999 Compaq Computer Corp.,
vice president and general manager of
several divisions

– May 1999 Ashford.com, CEO

- Education

– Undergraduate degree in economics, Cambridge University 1984

– Bachelors’ degree in economics magna cum lauda, Rice University 1985

– Masters in Business Administration, Graduate School of Business at Stanford University 1989

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