This was originally published in the October issue of D CEO.
When former AT&T executive Cynt Marshall was named CEO of the Dallas Mavericks in 2018, she became the first woman to lead the team’s front office. The NBA franchise had come under fire after workers complained of a hostile and toxic work environment. Turning things around became priority No. 1 for Marshall. “We have transformed the culture,” she says. “We still have work to do, but we truly have a different culture than what we had.”
Education: University of California, Berkeley (BBA)
First Job: “I had a part time job in college working in the student union, basically showing people how to get around campus.”
Greatest Inspiration: “My mother, by far. Carolyn Gardener is absolutely amazing. She made some big decisions early on in life, starting when I was three months old to move from Birmingham, Alabama, to California, so her kids would not grow up in the segregated South.”
Toughest Challenge: “Coming in as a woman of color to a culture that had not valued women the way they should have. … It was not easy because the team had operated for so long without what I considered to be true, genuine, authentic leadership.”
Lesson Learned: “If you dream big dreams, have a big vision, and work very hard, you can do anything you want to do in life. I’ve learned it and I’ve lived it.”
Fun Fact: “I am a true math geek. I love numbers. I wanted to be a math teacher growing up, and I sit and do crazy things when I’m in the car, riding around with my husband. I’ll add up license plate numbers and divide them, or do square roots.”
Advice for an 18-Year-Old Me: “Don’t let anyone lock you in to what they want you to be. Go out there and explore life, explore different careers. Stay open because you don’t know where you’ll end up.”
Beverage of Choice: “This time of year, pumpkin spiced latte. Normally it is a half-caf, nonfat, grande vanilla latte.”
Funny Experience: “I was working on a huge project at AT&T. We had a big conference, and I was supposed talk about the project and get everyone juiced up. I was totally focused on what I was going to say. I got in the car, pulled out of my driveway, and about 10 minutes later I realized I had forgotten to put on my skirt. I was only wearing a half-slip. So, I had to go back and get it.”
Looking ahead: “We have so many fabulous people at the Dallas Mavericks. We are ready for the future—on and off the court.”
This Q&A is extended content from the Dallas 500, a special edition produced by D CEO that profiles the region’s most influential business leaders. Visit www.dallas500.com for more.