Women in Spine Series: Debra, Leader of Marketing, NuVasive Clinical Services

This past March, we celebrated International Women’s Day by dedicating a special series for some of our female leaders at NuVasive. What is International Women’s Day (IWD)? It is a global day that celebrates the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women all over. In addition, IWD marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Internationally, purple is a color for symbolizing women, signifying justice and dignity. At NuVasive, our mission is to paint the world purple and continue to change as many patient lives as possible. Pairing the two purples together, we hope NUVA can help drive the movement to increase unity, advocacy, and action in our society.

Featuring our October #WomenInSpine feature, Debra, Marketing leader of NuVasive Clinical Services.

What woman inspires you and why? 

Throughout my life I have looked up to so many amazing and inspirational women—women from history and women leaders today. I have gathered strength and inspiration from each and every one of them. But if I am going to be totally honest, I gather most of my inspiration from “regular” women; my friends, family, colleagues and most of all, my “tribe”. These are the women that inspire and support me on a day to day basis. None of us can do this journey alone. We need our support system and it is in this wonderful tribe of women that has made me stronger and braver over the years. They’re the ones who can also tap me on the shoulder when I may be going down the wrong path.

One of them lived as a refugee from Vietnam. She boarded a boat with her family at six years old to find a better life, only to encounter unforeseen challenges and live in a refugee camp for six months. She overcame huge obstacles to make it to the United States. With unbelievable determination and spirit, she is the one who encourages me to never give up! I read an article that states, “When women support each other, incredible things can happen.” I truly believe that.

What advice would you give to other female professionals in Marketing? 

Marketing often times is very subjective and everyone seems to have an opinion on the right design, color, font, message, tone, and strategy. There’s usually never one solution or “right” or “wrong” answer. With infinite solutions and opinions, it may get messy from time to time, so having thick skin, emotional intelligence, and patience is key!

Research conducted by the Korn Ferry Hay Group found that women outperform men in eleven of twelve emotional intelligence competencies. Emotional intelligence is about being able to read and identify emotions—something that comes naturally to women and can also be referred to as “Women’s Intuition”!

What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership? 

According to a report from the World Economic Forum, across all industries, 44% of respondents said that unconscious bias among managers and a lack of work-life balance were significant barriers to gender diversity in the workplace. Almost as many, at 39% of respondents, pointed to a lack of female role models.

My advice to young women is to build a strong network and take the time to nurture it. Set career goals and do not give up. Constantly work on skills that will open doors such as communication, leadership, and emotional intelligence.


How do you think the female perspective benefits our company mission of changing patient lives? 

As Marketing Leader for Global Services, everything I do is in support of our mission of changing patient lives and eradicating preventable healthcare injury. Women can offer a unique perspective. Research shows that women make 80% of healthcare decisions in the US. In many cases, women are the primary care-givers and decision-makers in their families when it comes to healthcare. Given the woman’s role at home and in the workplace, we bring a first-hand view as a customer and can contribute to improving the patient experience.

What will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you? 

Challenges exist regardless of whether you are born male or female. My suggestion is that we look beyond the prevailing narrative that we are unfairly represented and vigilantly focus ourselves on delivering results.


Measurable performance always trumps perception, proven many times over by the likes of Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook), Indara Nooyi (PepsiCo), Mary Barra (General Motors), etc.  So, roll up your sleeves, become intimate with your company’s financial metrics, and most importantly don’t be afraid to fail fast, learn, and react!

To read other #WomenInSpine features from last month, click here to browse our ‘Culture’ section.






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