"Joining the MLBPA was a tremendous opportunity to contribute to the heart of the business – the players.''
Chief Financial Officer
Q & A with Tatia Mays-Russell
Chief Financial Officer
On her education and experience in engineering
I attended Brooklyn Technical High School and followed my interest in science to Cornell University College of Engineering. My focus was material science, polymer science in particular. My original ambition was to go to medical school, but by senior year, like all good college students, I’d changed my mind several times and happily settled on working as an engineer.
My first job was as a scientist for GE Plastics where I created formulations for high-temperature applications. I primarily worked within the aerospace, automotive, and beauty industries. Anxious to get out of the lab, I transferred to Los Angeles to do business development for silicone applications.
I enjoyed working with people and problem solving for potential customers. No more lab work for me. From there I decided to pair my analytical skills and interest in problem solving with a solid business education. I attended The Wharton School [University of Pennsylvania] and post-graduation worked as a management consultant for Deloitte. I wanted to use my combination of analytical skills and business acumen to problem solve.
On breaking into the sports industry in a finance role
Working at the NBA was my initial foray into the sports space. I served as Senior Director of League Business & Financial Operations for the WNBA. The league was only 2 years old and the role was new, so I had the opportunity to be creative with how I used analytics and processes to influence business decisions and operations. Up to now, this was hands-down the coolest job I’ve ever had. From there, I heightened my professional experience in the entertainment/media space as Vice President, Finance – Global Operations, Information Technology & Corporate Support at Scholastic- home of Clifford the Big Red Dog.
On her time with the National Lacrosse League
The National Lacrosse League’s Board of Directors wanted to formalize its financial management processes and I was its first ever Chief Financial Officer. Another great opportunity to be innovative and establish new business development connections. This was an extraordinarily hands-on role where I was able to touch everything and influence a great deal.
On her time at the Metropolitan Transit Authority
I joined The MTA as Deputy Chief, Strategic Initiatives. In this capacity, I led efforts that addressed high-profile financial, strategic and policy issues related to front-line operations, economic efficiencies and service quality. As a significant element of my role, I provided data-based problem-solving leadership and served as strategic partner to New York City Transit’s senior management. The greatest learning experiences of this job include the ability to analyze large and complicated data sets, delivering strategic narratives through presentation building and getting people from opposing sides to work together.
On her new role with the MLBPA and representing the player membership
The sports space has become significantly more analytical - and baseball is certainly one of those. I wanted the opportunity to combine my interest in the sports community with analytical tools and finance business acumen. Joining the MLBPA was a tremendous opportunity to contribute to the heart of the business – the players. I flashed back to my time at the WNBA where often it felt like a union. Representing the needs of women players in policy and operations was front of mind for me. It was a movement and I felt a tremendous sense of pride. Joining the MLBPA was an easy and natural extension to that sensation.
On her extracurricular activities and hobbies
I run. It’s a great stress reliever and it’s where I do my best problem solving. I plan to sign-up for a few half marathons… when they’re back. I love roller skating. Where I grew up in Brooklyn, roller skating was a big deal. I have a deep interest in reading about the history of the United States, and in particular, the journey of African-Americans. Understanding history provides me the ah-ha moments and clarity needed to interpret the world around me and make better decisions about the legacies I want to build for myself and contribute to for others.
I enjoy working with teens - seventh grade through high school. I serve as Lead Teen Advisor for my Jack & Jill Chapter.