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Audra Aulabaugh

Talent Manager

Audra joined Madrona in 2022 with a primary focus on ensuring leaders contemplating a startup career will first think of the Madrona ecosystem and our amazing portfolio companies. To make this goal a reality, she owns the Madrona talent brand and content strategy and contributes to all our writing, speaking, and teaching activities specific to talent.

Past Lives

Audra has spent over two decades working as an operator in tech, where she successfully built out early-stage, high-growth teams and recruiting infrastructure at scale. She has successfully led talent efforts through three acquisitions. Audra is a fearless learner and excels best when building from scratch, hence her desire to spend much of her career at early-stage companies, being the first-of leader for talent and most recently extending into PeopleOps. Audra started out in tech with Quintessent Communications back in the dot-com days, then pivoted to the hospitality industry at Trendwest Resorts (now Wyndham), pivoting back to tech at Speakeasy, Inc. and then Big Fish Games. Her most recent experience landed her within the Madrona portfolio — she worked at Heptio, acquired by VM Ware in 2018, and Polly.

Education and Extracurricular

Audra received her associate degree from Big Bend Community College, receiving a full-ride basketball scholarship. She has been an ongoing advocate for diversity in tech and represented all women as a panelist at AnitaB.Org. She has also continued her love for basketball as a volunteer 4th-grade select basketball coach.

Fun

Audra is a lifelong adventurer who loves road trips and exploring new places without a detailed itinerary — always enjoying the journey more than the destination. She has a deep passion for growth (both internal and in her garden), and she enjoys baking, hiking, birdwatching, music, and walking pretty much anywhere with a podcast or great music. She has recently become an avid reader of non-fiction. She spends as much time as possible with her equally adventurous husband, stepdaughter, and son.

Inspiration

“I am inspired by people’s lives. There’s so much to learn when we listen.”

Lessons Learned

Hiring the right team is 100% the biggest challenge in building a company. Spending focused and prioritized time on recruiting, the framework to support hiring, and fully committing to instilling these practices in early-stage leaders will be critical. People are complex, which makes value alignment important. Because we tend to see parts of ourselves in others, it’s easy to hire a bunch of people just like us. Hold yourself accountable for diversifying your team with people from different backgrounds who bring unique perspectives, ask challenging questions, and don’t just agree with you. The rewards are unmeasurable.