Megan Torres Head of Communications & Brand Marketing for Amazon Health

Interview
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February 2, 2024

How’d I Get Here?

Discussions with Public Relations, Communications and Marketing leaders about the journeys that shaped their careers.

Welcome to PR Talent’s new series, “How’d I Get Here?” The team at PR Talent has selected a group of leaders in Public Relations, Communications and Marketing to share how they got to where they are today in their career and to help others on their career journey.

In this inaugural interview, we spoke with Megan Torres, Head of Communications & Brand Marketing for Amazon Health.

Living My Purpose

When you were growing up, tell me about your dreams and what you wanted to do professionally?

I was born in rural Oregon and in elementary school was interested in two things: trying to train beetles to open up a beetle circus, and making perfumes out of flowers to start a plant perfume empire. Later, when I was in my teens, my parents taught in international schools. We lived in Indonesia and Japan for several years. While in Japan, I met the Japanese ambassador, and in a very arrogant way said, “I hope to take your job someday.”

Describe your career path and what led you to communications?

Growing up overseas, I became interested in global work that was good for the world. My first job out of college was in Washington, D.C. in international finance working for the Japanese Ministry of Finance and I loved the global aspects of being in the D.C. environment. Two years later, I got one of the coolest career calls ever from a pitching coach with the Seattle Mariners. He shared the Mariners’ plan to sign a new pitcher from Japan, Kazuhiro Sasaki, and the need for an international media relations leader if they inked the deal. The Mariners signed Sasaki and I moved back to Seattle to begin working for the team as their International Media Manager. This is how I got into public relations and communications and I loved it! For the next five years, I enjoyed my role with the Mariners, but nonprofit work was tugging at my heart.

Over the next decade, I held several public relations, marketing, branding and thought leadership positions that allowed me to focus on advancing work that was good for the world. I became the Public Relations Manager for the Casey Family Programs where, not only did I lead media, branding and thought leadership for the nonprofit’s important work, it’s where I met my husband Dan Torres and worked for my favorite manager Brien Lautman.

Newly married, I thought it was time for another adventure. We moved to New York where I intentionally focused on building my career in global health including serving as Director of Communications and Marketing for the nonprofits Millenium Promise and then buildOn, getting my master’s degree in International Economic Policy at Columbia University and having an opportunity to help launch MWW’s award-winning Social Innovation practice as Vice President. It was at MWW where I got the agency bug; I loved the fast pace, the smart people and the diverse clients.

“Sometimes the shifts are not that obvious, listen to some of the smaller things that are shaping the industry that may be overlooked.”

After five years in New York, it was time to move back to the West Coast to be close to family as well as raise my children. I joined the Seattle office at Weber Shandwick as Senior Vice President to help lead the agency’s Corporate and Social Impact practice working with numerous top clients, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Nike Foundation and The World Bank.

My next role allowed me to take on a pivotal corporate executive marketing and communications role and lead a team as Group Vice President of Communications at Providence, the third largest health system in the U.S. As a bonus, I was able to work with my favorite boss again, Brien Lautman. My thought was, if we can change healthcare at a big system like Providence, we can change healthcare throughout the country. I loved my experience at Providence, but missed the fast pace of agency life.

So, I joined the healthcare startup Accolade. Similar to an agency, the pace of a startup was my sweet spot and as the Vice President of Corporate Marketing oversaw all branding, positioning, communications, content strategy, design, social impact and public relations activities for the organization.

My path led me to become the Head of Communications & Brand Marketing for Amazon Health, where we are discovering how a customer-obsessed company can bring the same obsession to the healthcare system. We are tackling a big, bold challenge which is how I like it.

Did you have a mentor who has guided you along the way?

Brien Lautman was the perfect leader and mentor for me at the perfect time. He lifted up everyone and celebrated others even when things did not go as planned. He taught me to authentically be myself, which I embrace wholeheartedly. I try to show up in this same way with my teams. I feel fortunate to have worked with him twice in my career.

A communications career can be all-consuming. What do you do to stay fresh creatively?

It’s important for me to get outside to recharge. Also, movement is important to me, so I’m always moving, walking inside or outside the office. I like to be around people, listening and being close to creativity inspires me.

“When contemplating a career pivot, if you make a move, it should stretch you professionally.”

What is the proudest moment you’ve had in your career?

Two moments come to mind. I’m really proud of how the Seattle Mariners embraced working with international media and it was their approach that became the template across Major League Baseball. The other moment I’m proud of is playing a small part at Accolade, working with our leaders to launch All in Seattle, a nonprofit that provided assistance to community members in need during COVID.

If you had to do it over again, is there anything you’d do differently?

The most important choice you make in life is not where you go to school or what your career is, but who will be your partner in life. I met my husband Dan later in life, and my only wish is that we would have met when I was younger. He’s central to the beautiful life I have.

What do you do to keep your skills current and stay relevant?

I read a lot and listen to podcasts when I’m walking or swimming. I’m curious, it’s one of the values that I think has served me well. I also try to take advantage of all the learning opportunities an organization like Amazon offers its employees.

Is there a piece of advice you received that you follow and remains true today?

My Dad, who I adore, told me early on to say yes to everything as that’s how you learn. The last couple of years and where I’m at in my career, I’ve added that it’s okay to say no too. No helps you prioritize your time.

Considering the pivots you’ve made in your career, what risk/reward process did you go through to make the decision to take the next step in your career?

I try to remember when contemplating a career pivot to put it into perspective. If you decide to make a move or not, you’ll learn from the experience. If you make a move, it should stretch you professionally.

As the industry continues to shift – social media, influencers, AI, etc. – how do you know what to take a chance on to innovate?

Sometimes it’s obvious because you’ve been getting the same signals over and over. In healthcare, we really do need to figure out how to automate some things, whether it’s through machine learning or AI. Sometimes the shifts are not that obvious, and you need to quiet your mind to listen to some of the smaller things that are shaping the industry that may be overlooked.

Interviewed by Dan Lee, Managing Director Northwest and Southeast at PR Talent.

Ready for your next adventure or need more top talent on your team? Email HeyNow@prtalent.com