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A new episode of our podcast Leadership Next is out this morning featuring Cathy Engelbert, commissioner of the WNBA, who talked with us about struggling to figure out how to stage a basketball season in the midst of a pandemic.
Before taking the WNBA job last summer, Engelbert was the first female CEO of Deloitte, working there for 33 years, and as CEO for five. She says the similarities between business and basketball are surprising.
“I ran a people-first agenda at Deloitte, now we are running a player-first agenda. I took a 12-city tour and I listened to all the stakeholders, the media, the fans, the owners, the GMs, the front office people. It was pretty funny the similarities to big business. What I figured out very quickly was sports is big business.”
Engelbert played basketball herself in high school and college (Lehigh), and credits her rise into leadership to an athletic upbringing.
“It was all about competitiveness. I am one of eight kids. Five brothers. Really competitive background. We fought for everything, from cereal to pop tarts to our parents’ time . . . My dad played big time college basketball. He was actually drafted by the Detroit Pistons in 1957. It was all that competitiveness growing up in a very male-dominated family, went to a male-dominated university, entered a male-dominated profession.”
You can listen to the full podcast here. More news below.