Mike KennedyAssociate Vice President, Learning & Leadership Development
Mike Kennedy is the NBA’s global head of Learning and Leadership Development, responsible for the L&LD team’s design and delivery of innovative, enduring learning solutions to the league’s 1,500 employees worldwide. Kennedy was hired as the NBA’s Director of L&D in 2012, and in 2015 launched its Leadership Development function, which has since established a new standard of practice within the sports industry and distinguished the NBA as a premier developer of top talent. In his time with the NBA, Kennedy has overseen a dramatic expansion of the league’s professional development catalog, implemented its learning management system, and founded the NBA Business Academy to support the growth of the league’s high-potential population. His team was awarded Gold in Brandon Hall’s 2016 Excellence Awards for Best Advance in Leadership Development. Kennedy developed his expertise as a learning strategist, facilitator, and organizational analyst in previous roles with KPMG LLP and Tiffany & Co. Kennedy refers to himself as a recovering psychotherapist, having received his BA from Brown and his MA in Counseling Psychology from Assumption College. He resides in New Jersey with his wife, children, and dogs.
When the NBA’s new commissioner (and CEO) took office in 2014, he quickly made clear that a cultural transformation within the league office would be a top priority of his tenure. Previously, the league had grown by excelling at execution; managers achieved results by prioritizing replication over innovation and steadiness over readiness. But this top-down, execution-first culture would not, the commissioner believed, sustain growth within the new, increasingly global sports and media business landscape. The NBA’s global head of learning and leadership development will describe how the learning function acted not just as enabler or promoter, but as a true driver of the evolution toward employer of choice for an engaged workforce embracing innovation, collaboration, and strategic agility.
Understand the structural and institutional preconditions for the learning function to assume leadership of major change Narrow L&D’s focus to prioritize initiatives that most closely align with the objectives of cultural transformation
Integrate senior executives into leadership development activity to position them as change ambassadors
Engage intensively with HR leadership to ensure consistency of processes, philosophy, and information flow