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Top Miami HEAT Executive Shares Lessons on Managing Champions

November 03, 2011
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Kim Stone

Kim Stone (MBA '03), executive vice president of the Miami HEAT and general manager of the AmericanAirlines Arena

School of Business alumni kicked off the University’s homecoming weekend this November with a presentation by Kim Stone (MBA ’03), executive vice president of the Miami HEAT and general manager of the AmericanAirlines Arena, who spoke about “Managing Champions” during the Business Alumni Leadership Lecture. 

Stone, who also sits on the University of Miami President’s Council, began her career in the sports industry at the University of North Carolina while an undergraduate student, and later went on to work at the UM as an assistant sports information director, where she worked with national champion football coach Dennis Erickson.

Stone credits various individuals such as former Miami HEAT coach Pat Riley and player Alonzo Mourning for influencing her successful career, which spans more than 15 years. It is a career that includes maintaining one of the largest season ticket holder bases in the entire NBA and the highest season ticket retention rate in HEAT history.

During her tenure with the HEAT, which included watching the team make history as it took home the 2006 NBA championship, Stone has learned to take the good with the bad, while always keeping a positive outlook. “The only constant in life is change,” said Stone, who credits Riley for instilling this mantra into her work ethic.

Change is something Stone has indeed seen after winning the 2006 title. Following the controversy of the “big three” players signing with the HEAT in 2010, she, along with the industry, is currently experiencing one of the lowest points in NBA history as a lockout threatens to cancel the entire 2011-2012 season.

“From Coach Erickson I learned that in times of crisis, ignore the critics and focus on what you can control, and that’s what we’re doing now while focusing on the future,” she said.

Stone never loses sight of the big picture while always maintaining unyielding persistence — an invaluable attribute she also credits to Riley, who had iPads designed with a built-in Heat website personally delivered to entice the “big three” players who ultimately joined the HEAT for its 2010-2011 season.

As the manager of such a large organization, Stone, who was the only female general manager of an arena at the time she was hired, has learned the importance of teamwork and gaining the respect of teammates, especially in a male-dominated industry. “I’ve always been big on collaborating and communicating with my employees,” she said. “Gaining the respect of staff members is extremely important and something I highly value.”

Although the NBA has yet to resolve the lockout crisis, Stone says she thrives on challenges and is ready for what this new season will bring.  

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