Tara Rush, 42
Chief marketing officer, Audi of America
Big break: Workshop in 2015 while at her previous employer encouraged her to define her personal purpose, which led to her taking her first job with Audi in 2019
Tara Rush might be considered a committed optimist. Though she’s relatively new in her current role as chief marketing officer for Audi of America — she became its first female marketing chief in December — she’s been with the German premium brand since April 2019, when she became head of communications after leaving Heineken.
Whether her job is inside or outside the auto industry, her eye is always trained on the same goal.
“I’m just always looking at every situation and asking, ‘Where is the biggest opportunity and where can I create a lot of positive energy for change?’ So I’m definitely one of those people who, even in those challenging moments, I’m always kind of looking for the solution, for the positive side of things,” Rush said.
It’s a driving motivation, one that has been present throughout her career. It was amplified in 2015 during a multiday workshop she attended about defining your personal purpose. The workshop fundamentally changed her career path, she said.
“I would really say that that was the big break of my career, because I think by defining that personal purpose, and how amazing that opportunity was for me, it started to act like a filter for the decision-making for my career,” Rush said. “It also gave me even more confidence on the path I wanted to take to move forward.”
Rush said she joined Audi because the brand’s purpose largely mirrored her own: relentless optimism and putting people first.
“Audi is all about putting people at the heart of everything we do, and also about kind of driving progress with an attitude towards the future,” Rush said.
In her role, Rush sees her mission as twofold: working with her executive colleagues to drive the business and keep it heading in the right direction, and striving to “redefine where we are on our path as a brand. We’ve always been a challenger brand ... trying to drive progress with our mix of technology and beautiful design. But I think there’s something in the heart of Audi that’s always been about the spirit of challenging things and pushing forward.
“Originally, years ago, it was about breaking into that ‘rule of three’ and becoming part of that luxury competitive set,” she added. “But now, we’ve earned that spot, so what is that next chapter for Audi? How do we take that scrappy challenger brand and evolve it into a leader with that kind of relentless optimism to push things forward?”
But her driving force is expressed more simply, she said.
“What I think about most frequently is leaving things better than where I found them,” said Rush. “I want to have a positive effect on the people around me, and I want to go to bed each night with more positive energy than I had when I woke up.”
— Larry P. Vellequette