President & CEO, AZ Commerce
Sandra Watson brings more than 20 years of economic development leadership and experience to Arizona. She and her teams have successfully attracted to Arizona hundreds of companies that have invested billions of dollars in capital and created more than 75,000 quality jobs.
In her 17 years with the Arizona Department of Commerce, and now the Arizona Commerce Authority, Ms. Watson served in multiple positions with increasing responsibilities and results. She has led Business Development, Business Attraction, Workforce and Marketing. She has also served as Director of Innovation and Technology, and she continues to be a leading participant in these sectors.
Ms. Watson began her career in Canada and brings not only a wealth of knowledge on the regional, state and national levels but can execute effectively on an international scale.
Ms. Watson is a collaborative leader who excels in strategic thinking and relationship building. She worked tirelessly as a leader to implement the exciting new vision for the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA), providing invaluable energy and stability during the transition from the Department of Commerce.
Her leadership and strong relationships with Arizona’s Governor and legislators has resulted in consensus in creating the ACA as well as the establishment of its aggressive business plan the organization is currently executing.
Sandra Watson earned an Honors Bachelor of Commerce Degree, and she has completed the Global Leadership Certification Program at the Thunderbird School of Management. In addition to sitting on numerous regional and statewide Boards of Directors, Ms. Watson serves on the National State Science and Technology Institute Board.
In 2014, the Phoenix Business Journal recognized Ms. Watson as one of the 25 “Most Admired Leaders in Business.” In 2013, AZ Business magazine named Ms. Watson as one of the “50 Most Influential Women in Arizona Business.” In 2012, the Phoenix Business Journal also recognized Ms. Watson among the “Top 25 Women in Business” and in 2004, it recognized her as an up-and-coming Arizona leader with its “Forty Under 40” designation. Ms. Watson is also a two-time recipient of the Arizona Technology Council Chairman’s Award – 2004 and 2010.