Going for a Slam Dunk

Tammy Henault (MBA ’14), CMO of the NBA, shares how she navigated from the media industry to sports entertainment to take on the role of a lifetime engaging basketball fans around the world
Tammy Henault (MBA '14)

Tammy Henault (MBA ’14) developed her leadership style and honed her skills as a marketing pro from years of working within the tumultuous media industry and helping brands undergo a turnaround—a career path that would ready her for the C-suite at a global sports brand, the NBA. 



When asked what it’s like driving engagement for a global fanbase of a major sports brand, Tammy Henault, who joined just under a year ago, seemed both unphased and a little in awe as she summed it up: "It's incredibly exciting!”


That’s for sure. In her relatively new role, Tammy is charged with delivering on three things: growing the global fanbase, increasing fan engagement with branded content, and increasing adoption of direct-to-consumer digital products. It’s a big job, but not for a media industry marketing professional with her experience. “Sports entertainment is adjacent to the media industry, so it’s not that different from marketing content for media companies,” she explained. “Instead of TV shows and characters, I get to drive excitement about the NBA and its players.”


A seasoned executive, Tammy has spent years honing her leadership and marketing acumen, often joining companies at a time when they were going through significant transitions. “If I zoom out, I can see that I went from one company to the next when they were facing challenges,” she explains. At Time Inc., she was in magazine publishing when print sales were declining as digital content came to the forefront; at the New York Times when print newspaper publishing was on a downward trend; and then at CBS when streaming services were threatening cable TV. “But with underdogs, there is opportunity,” she said.


Tammy stayed with those companies long enough to see the turnaround and develop a track record of success. This is a learning that she likes to impart on others.


“A career is a marathon, not a race,” she said. “It’s not the best strategy to jump from one company to the next after only a year or so. If you don’t stick around, then you can’t see the impact of your work, nor can you develop strong relationships. Every job I’ve been recruited for involved a personal referral,” shared Tammy.


Along with building a successful CV, Tammy has also cultivated her leadership style over the years.


“I am a work in progress, and I am always learning as I go. Over the years, I’ve shifted from being a directional coach who instructs people, to a leader who helps others figure out how to solve problems and figure out the answers themselves,” said Tammy.


Tammy Henault (MBA '14) on the basketball court

Tammy Henault (MBA ’14) on the court before the 2023 Utah Jazz All-Star game.


When she looks back at her MBA at Stern, which she did part-time while working, she recalls so many great professors: Greg Coleman, who brought in a long list of top-tier professionals to share their inspiring stories; and Professor Kabi’s power in politics class and the importance of EQ. While the classroom was stimulating, some of her favorite memories were hanging out with other students after class and building those relationships.


But right now, she doesn’t have a lot of free time. With two little kids at home and an intense travel schedule, she’s just trying to juggle it all. “Finding balance is hard no matter what. There’s no secret unless you sacrifice your sleep,” said Tammy. 


Despite her hectic schedule, she is super excited for a new initiative the NBA just launched. It’s called the Heist, a new in-season tournament that uses a single elimination format. “It’s new for the league, so we are very excited about trying something different,” said Tammy.


She doesn’t have much time for other activities outside of work and her family, but she is hoping to be able to get involved with NYU Stern at some point. But in the meantime, she spends time with her Stern friends whenever she can.