The APH community recently hosted Amy Latimer, President of TD Garden as the first 2019 speaker for the Women in Leadership Speaker Series. During her high-energy talk, Ms. Latimer shared stories from her career, what she does in her role today, and advice she would give her high school self. Her great sense of humor, flair for sharing her story, and heartfelt advice were an outstanding way to begin the year.
Ms. Latimer talked about her journey from growing up in Maryland to attending University of Rhode Island on a basketball scholarship. She was open about the fact that since fourth grade, she had dreamed about becoming a lawyer but then by working in a law firm, she realized that career was not a good fit for her at all. “Careers are not a straight path,” she said. “There are things you do that put tools in your tool box for later in your life but you don’t know the value of those skills yet.”
Joining the Fleet Center (now TD Garden) in 1995 as Director of Marketing, Ms. Latimer was candid about the fact she didn’t have substantial experience when she started in the role but she worked hard to immerse herself in this field. “Business opportunities come up and needs come along and you raise your hand for them,” she said. This attitude of stepping up to challenges has served Ms. Latimer well throughout her career, as she shifted to roles in sales, launched email marketing divisions for both the Bruins and TD Garden, and was a driving force for other sales initiatives. She encouraged APH students to take this same approach of raising their hand and stepping up to try new things.
Being a woman in a male-dominated industry, Ms. Latimer offered some insights into how she handles that unique reality. She shared how she went to her first NHL executive meeting as the Boston Bruins Director of Sales and quickly saw that she was the only woman in the room. “If I didn’t share my voice, I wasn’t being a team player on behalf of the Bruins or for women and I wanted to put my stake in the ground,” Ms. Latimer said while describing her experience in that meeting. Now, as President of TD Garden, she is the only woman in that level of role for a major sports arena in the country.
In her day to day work now, Ms. Latimer is overseeing a 100 million dollar renovation and expansion of TD Garden and oversees a team that handles over 200 sports games and concerts a year. She describes it as managing the “street to seat” experience for every fan and concert goer. One of Ms. Latimer’s favorite parts of her job is walking around TD Garden during events and seeing people come in and have a communal experience. She also shared fun stories such as Bono from U2 kissing her hand, having jeans older than some of the hockey players, and how security issues and old rockers keep her up at night.
Ms. Latimer’s Key Professional and Personal Advice
#1 – Think of yourself as a brand.
Ms. Latimer encouraged students to think about the image they project to the world: “You are a brand and you have to think about what you want people to see and know about you.” This brand management extends to your career choices, your demeanor, your communication style, and many other aspects of what you do.
#2 – Be prepared.
Since she is involved in the hiring process for employees and interns and has many other conversations with people interested in her work, Ms. Latimer noted how few come to interviews having done their homework about the organization. In an era when it is easy to research companies as well as people, there is no excuse for showing up unprepared.
#3 – Be on time.
This is connected with both of the tips above but is something Ms. Latimer stressed. Arriving late conveys both a personal sense of disorganization but also doesn’t respect the time of the person you are meeting with.
#4 – Listening is an extremely important skill.
Often people think that talking a lot is the most important way to connect with others. Ms. Latimer said: “Listening to my team and the fans/patrons of TD Garden with respect has been essential.”
#5 – Be able to tell the story of how you can do the job.
Ms. Latimer commented several times that diversity is very important in terms of backgrounds, opinions, and life experiences. She appreciates candidates who are able to articulate how their experiences and skills will enable them to step in and have a positive impact as part of her team.
#1 – Take some risks.
In looking back on her high school experience, Ms. Latimer said: “I probably didn’t put myself in the areas I was interested like art in because I thought others were more talented than me.” She stressed the importance of believing in yourself and trying new things. “Take a risk on yourself,” she said. “The satisfaction you will get will far exceed your anxiety about it.”
#2 – Appreciate the people who care about you.
She shared that she is still in touch with her high school basketball coach and several teachers but that she didn’t appreciate their role in her life until later on. She urged students not to make the same mistake and to think about their teachers, coaches, and other people who care about them. “They want to empower you,” she said. “Understand what their message is and why.”
#3 – Have real friends who share your values.
Recently, Ms. Latimer took a trip with several high school friends and they had a great time doing activities including goat yoga. Being able to laugh with friends and know you always have people who have your back is something that Ms. Latimer feels has enriched her life. She encouraged students to develop those kinds of friendships and to keep them going even during hectic or difficult times.
Students had a number of questions for Ms. Latimer and as they asked them, several students commented on how she has “the coolest job ever.” The questions ranged from how she handles working in a male-dominated field to sharing her favorite moments to how she got over her fear of failure and what she looks for when she hires employees and interns. Several faculty and staff members also asked questions about who Ms. Latimer considers as mentors and her tips on how young women can overcome the “script of self doubt” many of them have.
One piece of advice that Ms. Latimer stressed throughout her talk was being able to ask for what you want and to advocate for yourself. Annie U. ‘21 took Ms. Latimer’s advice to heart and raised her hand to ask for tickets to the Shawn Mendes concert. When Ms. Latimer immediately said yes, the crowd applauded and laughed. It was the perfect ending to an incredibly inspiring talk that the entire APH community will always remember.