One week Linda Gardner 02MBA may be in Berlin, Germany. Another week her job may take her to Brazil. But as Gardner will tell you, this is what life is like in the global research world. As an area manager of market research for Abbott Laboratories, Gardner leads global marketing research initiatives to support the development and launch of diabetes products around the world. And though she spends nearly half the year traveling, Gardner says there’s nothing quite like having the chance to create a product and help those in need around the world.
“I enjoy the global impact that I can have,” Gardner says. “You get to watch a product develop from its birth. It’s a great feeling to watch it go from a concept phase into a real product.”
On a day-to-day basis, Gardner says her chief responsibilities revolve around developing new diabetes products. The length of each project varies. Just recently, Gardner and her colleagues spent four years developing a glucose monitor that was launched in Europe. In a given week, Gardner will work on anything from developing concepts to analyzing go-to-market strategies to advertising products. Managing a number of different clients is also a huge part of Gardner’s job. “When you have multiple clients in so many different places,” she observes, “good communication and prioritization is key.”
Throughout the year, Gardner—who is based in the San Francisco Bay Area—estimates that she’s on the road 40 to 50 percent of the time. In recent years, she’s spent time in China, the UK, France, and Japan, among other countries, though much of her work is focused in Europe and emerging markets. The biggest challenge of working with emerging markets? “Just making sure you know your consumers,” she says. “Many assumptions that hold true for developed markets are not applicable in emerging ones. Product offerings and launch strategies have to change to be successful.”
Gardner actually took a rather roundabout route to the healthcare world. Before enrolling at Goizueta in 2000, the Oakland, CA, native spent three years as a teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District. But she desired a change of scenery, with her sights set on entering the business world. A few of her friends had gone to Goizueta and enjoyed their experiences. And since she wanted a similar career path, Gardner decided to follow suit, hoping to sharpen her marketing acumen.
“It gave me a foundation to be successful in corporate America,” says Gardner of her time at Emory.
Looking back, Gardner feels that her days in Atlanta were crucial for allowing her to transition careers. “I was completely shifting out of a different field. I got all the tools I needed—political savviness, interviewing skills, collaboration skills, and the fundamentals of business.” —Andrew Clark