Holy Cross students attend the 16th annual Women in Business Conference in the Hogan Campus Center
Kate Jhaveri ’95, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of the NBA, has always loved team sports. Rowing alongside her teammates at Holy Cross remains one of her favorite memories from her time on The Hill. It also inspires how she leads global marketing operations for the NBA today, she said during her keynote talk at the 16th annual Women in Business Conference.
“What leading really comes back to is a deep understanding of the people that you work with every day,” Jhaveri told attendees of the conference, hosted by the Ciocca Center for Business, Ethics, and Society.
In the end, what matters is “how you can bring everybody along with you,” she explained.
Nalani Ramos Ruiz ’21, a member of the Holy Cross Board of Trustees and former Women in Business Committee co-chair, led the fireside chat and Q&A session.
Before joining the NBA in 2019, Jhaveri worked in high-profile marketing roles for tech giants like Twitch, Twitter, Facebook, Microsoft and Dell. One question — “How much can I learn?” — guided each career move.
“I could have stayed in tech for the rest of my career,” she said. “But what I really was excited about was what I could learn at the NBA.”
Jhaveri has since tackled unique, creative challenges, like celebrating the NBA’s 75th anniversary season this year with a fandom that spans generations. (“Kids today think Michael Jordan makes sneakers,” Jhaveri laughed. “They don’t even know that he was a tremendous player.”)
Through her work at the NBA, Jhaveri is proud to be living values instilled at Holy Cross. “When we approached the pandemic and we had to pause our season, we used that opportunity to help educate our fans [on how to stay safe],” she recalled.
And when it came to fighting for racial justice, “we also were really on the frontlines,” Jhaveri said.
Drawing hundreds of participants from across the country and beyond, this year’s Women in Business conference followed a hybrid model, with on-campus and virtual events, including dynamic speakers, industry-specific breakout discussions and networking opportunities via the Whova app and Zoom.
“This year students were able to create community together on campus while alumnae were able to join virtually, allowing us to stay safe while also creating meaningful connections and lasting memories,” said Cassie Gevry, Associate Director for the Ciocca Center for Business, Ethics, and Society. “We look forward to bringing the community together again while still offering the virtual option to welcome everyone to contribute to the important conversations and support each other.”
Session topics ranged from mindful leadership to tackling your first 100 days at a new job.
“Women in Business has opened multiple opportunities for me in my four years here on the hill. It has not only allowed me to build my network, but it has also created a family in both my fellow students and alumnae,” said economics major Mary Anne Wiley ‘22, a student organizer of the conference. “It has been an absolute pleasure working alongside both alumnae and students to create year after year an incredible conference, despite challenges brought on by COVID.”
As a student, Jhaveri, and English and Spanish major, never imagined following this career path. “I thought I was going to go into education or be a professor of literature,” she told attendees.
But her first job in management consulting sparked a passion for marketing. “What I love about marketing is the art and science of it … the idea of math, plus storytelling and the ability to connect with communities.” Remaining open to opportunities allows your career to evolve in surprising ways, Jhaveri said.
Jhaveri said the community at Holy Cross deeply impacted how she approaches people and thinks through problems in business. “It’s not just about the ones and zeros in tech or the balance sheet or income statement,” she said. “Relationships matter so much.”
Given the chance, Jhaveri would “absolutely” choose a Holy Cross education all over again, the NBA’s chief marketer told conference attendees: “I continue to think that liberal arts education is incredibly important.”
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