Even though her career path veered away from the master’s degree she earned at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, Nadine Watt MA ’94 credits USC for her success. After forging her own path in Hollywood for a decade, she decided to make a life change and go into “the family business.”
Her grandfather Ray Watt, who was a USC trustee from 1968 to 2009, founded Watt Companies, a diversified and full-service real estate company. His advice? Lean on the Trojan family for support.
“One of the first resources that my grandfather had me take advantage of was the USC real estate community,” she explains. “Even though I had come from a completely different field, they welcomed me with open arms.”
At the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate, Watt found mentors and friends, and eventually served on its executive committee. “My relationship with USC just blossomed from there,” she says.
Her involvement at Lusk paved the way for her to become CEO of Watt Companies. Today, Watt oversees day-to-day activities and strategic planning for all its commercial investment activities.
At USC, she has served on the boards of councilors of the USC Marshall School of Business and the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy, as well as the USC Associates Board of Directors. “From there, I realized that the natural progression of my volunteer time, leadership and philanthropy was to be on the Board of Governors,” she says. After being a board member for the past six years, Watt was elected president in May.
We know what the pulse of the alumni is. Hopefully, that results in action at the top levels of the university.Nadine Watt
Watt is looking forward to supporting USC President Carol L. Folt’s big initiatives in sustainability and diversity, equity and inclusion programs during her tenure. “The great thing about the Board of Governors is there are representatives from each school and affinity group at the university,” she says. “We know what the pulse of the alumni is. Hopefully, that results in action at the top levels of the university.”
But Watt is most excited about helming the 100th anniversary of the USC Alumni Association and the 100th USC Homecoming during the second year of her two-year presidency in 2023-24. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic triggering some of the organization’s most challenging years for alumni engagement, Watt sees a silver lining: “We have two years of experience in engaging alumni online, and we can leverage that.”
That means exploring hybrid alumni experiences: “We can have some events in person and some online, and people will remain engaged,” Watt says. “We also expand our reach to alumni who are further afield.”
Everything that USC has given me, I want to give back.Nadine Watt
Watt says her business prowess and leadership skills set her up for success within her civic and philanthropic organizations. “You have to have humility, you have to have heart, you have to be honest, maybe have some humor,” she says. “Those translate across all platforms.”
Beyond that, USC has taught her to value her Trojan relationships. “I love the [USCAA description of the Trojan family being] ‘lifelong and worldwide,’” Watt says. “It’s absolutely true. When I’m hiring, interviewing and looking for interns, I go to my Trojan network first.”
She wants to make sure all USC alumni—and not just the fourth generation of Trojans in her family — get that support as well. “My daughter is entering USC next spring — I want her to have that opportunity, too,” she says. “Everything that USC has given me, I want to give back.”