Q&A with COO Maureen Brown
Q: You spent several years working in the WNBA and NBA league offices, but now are working for a WNBA team for the first time. What was it about the opportunity with the Dream that made you want to come to Atlanta?
A: Working with the Dream offers a great opportunity to experience the WNBA from a different perspective. While I was at the League, our primary focus was strengthening the overall brand by providing benchmarking information to help teams build strong initiatives and ensuring compliance with League guidelines. Now I have the chance to help actually build and shape those initiatives and have more of a direct impact on the League's success.
Q: What is your vision for the type of changes or improvements you would like to make to how the Dream organization is run?
A: I would like to help Angela (Taylor, Atlanta Dream President and General Manager) build the Atlanta Dream to be a model for how to be a successful WNBA franchise. I do understand that more often than not tweaks are more appropriate than wide sweeping change. That said, I would like to implement financial and operational processes that leverage the benefits of technology to gain efficiencies. I'm a big proponent of paperless practices. I'm also a big believer in the power of data. Therefore, I would like to help provide all Dream staff with the tools to use data analysis to help them achieve their business objectives.
Q: What differences do you anticipate between working for the league office and one of its teams?
A: The biggest difference I anticipate is that I will instantaneously have a rooting interest for one team. While at the League, everything I did was in the best interest of all teams. Now my primary focus will be the success of the Dream. I already experienced this while watching the All-Star Game. I was surprised at how proud I was that three Atlanta Dream players were All-Stars and that Shoni was named the MVP. In the past, my reaction would have been geared towards being happy with how well the League was represented with how exciting the game was, and the fact that so many records were broken. I still think like this, but now I anticipate the League perspective will be secondary to my interest in how the Dream is represented at all times.
Q: After several years in basketball, you most recently worked for an NFL team (Jacksonville Jaguars). Did you miss working with basketball, or is working in sports fairly similar regardless of the sport?
A: Most people I have met who work in sports love all things sports and are oftentimes partial to their chosen sport. I believe I am unique in that I have always been more fascinated with the business of sports than the sports themselves. Therefore, while I have always been a fan of my hometown teams, I tend to be more interested in how influential sports are to both individuals and the community at large and more importantly, how this influence is used to effect change.
Q: How did you get your start working in sports?
A: My good friend from high school had a former business school classmate who was looking for an analytical thinker to fill the WNBA Manager of Business Operations role. My friend thought I would be a perfect fit and recommended me.
Q: Which co-worker(s) had the biggest influence on your career path?
A: There are two: Steve Richard who was one of my bosses at the NBA; and Tamara Horne, my boss while at Creative Consulting Management Group. Steve, besides being the best boss I ever had, taught me how to be a manager. This enabled me to be comfortable in a leadership role, which is not my natural inclination. His most important lesson for me was don't try to put everyone in one box. Instead, take the time to assess each person' s strengths and areas of improvement and build a development plan from there because everyone has something good to offer. Tamara taught me how to be a consultant and as a result I approach every job assignment as a project, i.e., a work plan must be developed; deliverables must be identified; and results must be visible and measurable.
Q: Did you play sports yourself growing up? Which was your best sport?
A: My mother thought it was important to try lots of things. Therefore, in addition to the traditional sports, I played tennis, bowled and even took modern dance. In high school I tried out for JV basketball, but didn't make the team. I was on the track team in high school for shot put and javelin. To be honest, I am not a very good athlete, which is probably why I have so much respect for professional athletes. What they achieve is remarkable to me.
Q: Outside of sports, what other interests or hobbies do you have?
A: I love to read. My goal while growing up was to read at least 50 books a summer. I'll read anything...fiction, non-fiction, course books...I learn something from all of them.
Q: What are you most excited about when it comes to living in Atlanta?
A: Well, I'm most excited for the opportunity to help build and expand the Dream brand in Atlanta because I think there are some great opportunities in such a vibrant city. But I must admit, I am curious to experience first-hand one of the most talked-about social scenes in America.