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Making Her Mark in Healthcare Marketing

Medtronic manager applies EMBA to accept new roles

Audra Watt
Vice President Marketing, Permobil Americas

Vanderbilt Executive MBA 2014

While Audra Watt loved her job as a product manager at Medtronic in Memphis, after a couple of years at the company, she realized that she needed more education to take the next step. The “Double Dore”—who graduated from Vanderbilt in 2005 with a double major in chemistry and economics—didn’t have a lot of prior exposure to business education. “I realized I was handicapped by a lack of basic business knowledge and needed to close the gap in order to grow further,” she says. “I decided at that point that it would make sense to go and get an MBA.”

While she had MBA options in Memphis, Watt specifically looked for an Executive MBA program outside of her hometown. “I wanted to expand my network outside of just Memphis,” she says. “Part of me going to get an MBA was to bust out of my comfort zone and get more perspectives.”

Coming back to Vanderbilt proved to be a good choice. The Executive MBA program broadened not only her network but also her view of potential career opportunities. After graduating, Watt decided that she wanted to move within Medtronic to working on integrating more advanced healthcare technologies into surgical procedures, rather than just product marketing.

A reorganization around this same time opened up some roles at Medtronic, and Watt was able to transition first to marketing program manager, then ultimately to senior manager and global core spine therapy segment leader. She has since won awards for marketing excellence and was named as both “Top 40 Under 40” and “Superwomen in Business” by the Memphis Business Journal.

When Watt got the call about the new role, she says, “I was like, ‘Wow, this is literally exactly what I wanted to do, because I have a lot of ideas in this space given this new perspective that I’ve [gained] in my MBA program.’” She also says that the Executive MBA program “played a huge part” in her getting that new role.

In late 2018, she was promoted to marketing director and early in 2019 expanded responsibilities to include additional global spine therapy segment responsibilities at Medtronic.

“Having a basic understanding of the business allowed me to more effectively ask questions,” she says, “and maximize and create value by connecting the dots between otherwise disparate functions.”

The Vanderbilt Executive MBA program “played a huge part” in getting me my new role.