Cathy Engelbert, who became the first woman to serve as CEO of Deloitte, has been named WNBA's new commissioner, it was announced on Wednesday. 1
"I'm very excited to do something I have a great passion for, and bring a business lens to WNBA" Engelbert said at the SportsCenter. "These are world-class athletes, and the game of women's basketball is rising. When we think of veneer grips, fan experience, gambling experience – this is all I look at when I change over to the role."
She was the president and CEO of Deloittes audit subsidiary before she started a four-year period as CEO of the US base of the company in 2015. Her maturity with the company does not officially end until June, and she will start working with WNBA on July 17.
"Cathy is a world-leading business leader with a deep connection to the women's basketball, making her an ideal person to lead the WNBA to the next growth phase," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. "WNBA will benefit greatly from her more than 30 years of business and operational experience, including revenue generation, sharp entrepreneurial instinct, and proven leadership."
Engelbert played basketball and lacrosse at Lehigh, graduated in 1986. Her basketball coach was Muffet McGraw, who moved to Notre Dame in 1987.
"Cathy Engelbert is the perfect choice to lead the WNBA," McGraw said. "She has the perfect summary for the job: Division I play experience, plus extraordinary success in corporate America. She is smart, stable, confident, has a passion for the game and respects everyone she's ever worked with."
Engelbert ranked No. 18 in Fortune Magazine's "Powerful Women" list for 2018. She has been promised her commitment to diversity and inclusion in the financial industry and is a member of several charitable boards, along with the CEO of Catalyst, a global nonprofit that says his mission as "building workplaces for women".
About 43 percent of Deloitte's US over 94,000 workers are women.
Engelbert, who has a daughter and a son, is also credited with introducing Deloitte's 16-week paid family return program in 2016, providing support not only to new parents but to family carers.
"I'm not big rattler, but I rattled some people," Engelbert told Time in 2018 if it leaves the program. "I said we were just gonna do it."
Engelbert takes over a 12-league league that starts its 23rd season on May 24 and goes through collective bargaining with the players' union which utilizes its opt Out from the agreement last fall. Terms are in place for this season, but an agreement must be reached before the 2020 season begins.
Deloitte is one of the advisors of the Women 's National Basketball Players Association but Engelbert had no direct contact with the branch that worked with the Union. WFBPA CEO Terri Jackson has had a chance to meet Engelbert recently.
"We are urged that the league has chosen an individual who has a multidimensional understanding of the business of our game, with a proven ability to unlock real revenue and growth opportunities," said WNBPA Executive Committee in a statement. "We want to recognize the league in honor of our request to allow our Union to meet with the final candidates."
"We look forward to working with Cathy and see a redefined commitment to policies that value and support the working women and work mothers across the league. The progressive thinking and values Cathy has shown throughout his career give us optimism about how the future may look for WNBA players. "
WNBA is not a completely unexpected detour for Engelbert, who grew up in a family of eight children and coached his daughter's high school team competition. She has often spoken in interviews over the years about her lifelong love of sports and how to be an athlete helped her in business.
"The skills I learned early on from the sport – teamwork and competitiveness – combined with risk taking have driven my career path and helped me adapt to shifts and turning points along the way," [Engelska] Engelbert told Forbes in February 2018 "I often use my experience in sports in business, and like empowering people to raise their hands and building their ability in analogy that" you do not take shots you do not take. ""
WNBA, launched in 1997, had Val Ackerman as his first president. She was followed by Donna Orender in 2005, then Laurel J. Richie (2011-15) and Borders (2016-18).
"Cathy will be a great partner and build bridges that connect all key stakeholders in our game" McGraw said. "I am proud that she will represent women's basketball at the highest level."