Alumni Profiles

Avi Wolfson, BS '08

Avi Wolfson

Avi Wolfson graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in 2008 with a BS degree in biomedical engineering and a BA in Plan II Honors. He then completed an MS in Technology Policy from MIT in 2010. He currently works as a Global Marketing Manager at GE Healthcare in London.

What memories stick out to you during your time at the university?
Many memorable spots were where I spent time with friends and colleagues, trying to figure out how we could make a difference at UT: Cain and Abel's, Crown and Anchor, and Posse East were good for this.

I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for the basement of ENS where I worked in Andy Dunn's lab and the computer lab next to ENS where I basically lived senior year.

I also had a few work experiences I learned a lot from. I was a Friend's of Alec phone caller, an assistant for Laura Suggs in the first senior design class., and I had two internships that left a big impact—at the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Freescale Semiconductor.

Senior design was my most memorable class in BME. I learned while I wasn't the best engineer, I was good at understanding the user of a product and the economics around the use. It also helped me see that often those answers are what separate a project that gets implemented and becomes real from those that end.

The most memorable single experience I had was when I visited with Paul Woodruff (Dean of Undergraduate Studies) during a crisis of confidence. I asked him what I was supposed to do as someone studying both engineering and humanities. All I could think to do was become a patent lawyer. Dr. Woodruff said "the point isn't to combine all your studies into one job, the point is that exposure to humanities will make you a better engineer."

How was the process of finding a job?
Looking for a job is always awkward. There are a million different variables on your mind from personal interest to salary and the whole process is underscored by the fact that we all need some job just to pay the rent (at least for most of us mere mortals). This was of course my experience but at least I was lucky in that there were two things I knew for certain: I knew and liked healthcare better than any other space, and I wanted to help understand why people bought things.

I had built a good network at MIT and UT Austin and prided myself on being able to call people up and see what opportunities existed against those two principles. I was told that there was nothing dozens of times. Finally I started going on Google Finance and submitting my resume to medical companies I hadn't heard of before. I got a call back from one of those: Haemonetics. They interviewed me and made me an offer in marketing. I saw it as a good opportunity (definitely better than the alternative of unemployment!) and took it.

Can you talk about the various roles/experiences you've had in your career?
At Haemonetics I was a tactical marketer. I designed a program for selling medical equipment based on the financial and clinical value it provides and trained sales people in how to sell with data. I produced customer testimonials and spent a lot of time on the road with the sales team and customers to understand the use of this material. I did some product development and salesforce effectiveness work, and I built up a program for public policy marketing that resulted in our Chief Medical Officer being appointed to a US Health and Human Services Federal Committee.

At GE I managed our marketing leadership program. A lot of that job was spent coaching high potential marketers, making sure they had opportunities to drive business. I also helped with the rollout of an IT platform in a way that would benefit marketers. I recently changed jobs at GE and am now a marketing manager looking for global growth opportunities for one of our product lines in the part of the business tied to pharmaceutical development.

What do you do at GE Healthcare? When did you move to London?
I moved to London two and a half years ago. I probably could have done my job from the US but a big part of marketing is understanding people. The move was a great opportunity to learn that people in different places look at the world with different expectations and experiences.

Today my role really has three big components. First is developing marketing strategies that can have some global scale. For example we're looking at how to use a combination of webinars and email automation to generate high-value leads for our different regions. The second part is market assessment to help us understand where our products might succeed and where we have gaps to address – for instance I'm looking at the opportunity for our products in environmental assessment. Finally I coordinate our product launches globally. When we release a new product how do we make customers aware and get them excited?

How did your time at UT Austin help prepare you for where you are today?
Being trained as an engineer has made me a better marketer. I can break a complex problem down into digestible components. I can look at a market as a system with inputs and responses. I understand the importance of making decisions based on data and how to challenge whether data are good or bad.

Maybe most importantly though, UT Austin is a humbling place. I was one of about 40,000 students, many of whom were incredibly talented in areas I knew (and know!) nothing about. In industry I'll never know everything and often the difference between a project succeeding rather than stalling is being smart enough to accept what I don't know and find other people who can fill in those gaps in expertise.