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  • Writer's pictureSidekick

Kickin’ it with Sidekick: Leah MacNab

Celebrating awesome entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs just like you. Learn from others’ stories, successes, advice, and actions.

Meet Leah MacNab, the Managing Director of NBA Canada!

Portrait of Leah MacNab
Leah MacNab

In her role, Leah is responsible for the development and growth of the league’s business in Canada, including television and digital media, marketing and retail partnerships, licensing, special events and basketball development.

Leah has brought forward her entrepreneurial and leadership mindset throughout her career. She is a recipient of the Canadian Sports Business “5 to Watch” Award (2018), recognizing her as one of the top sport executives in Canada under 40 years old, and contributes her time as a Board member for Canada Basketball as well as the Sponsorship Marketing Council of Canada. She is passionate about creative thinking, marketing, women’s empowerment and food. A graduate of the University of Toronto, Leah also holds a postgraduate marketing certificate from Ryerson University.

A true innovator and passionate leader, Leah offers a variety of tactical advice we can all take to heart in our own career and life journeys. Read on to learn more about her life lessons and advice to current and future leaders!

1. How do you encourage innovative ideas and disruptive thinking?

When we look at innovation from a fan’s perspective, it’s easy to come up with big ideas. Not all of them are worth testing; however, this makes the process enjoyable. Having fun and trusting your team means giving them leeway to try ideas that may not seem like a slam dunk at first.

There is power in naming projects tests or pilots. The intent of a pilot is to learn from the effort. It removes the pressure of needing a win and creates more room for iteration or tweaking as the pilot unfolds. There are very few ideas that become a hole-in-one.

2. What’s one thing you wish you knew before starting your business/current role?

I wish I’d known there was a pandemic coming! But honestly, we need to be grateful for every lesson life presents. Growth comes from hard learned lessons and from doing the things that scare you.

3. What type of superpower would you want to have? Why?

I would love to be able to teleport or travel long distances in a few seconds.

Getting stuck in traffic or at an airport drives me crazy. I hate to waste a minute.

4. What book/podcast/documentary/piece of content do you recommend the most and why? Or what books/podcasts/documentaries/pieces of content has greatly influenced your life?

Specifically for women, I often recommend two books. The first is Brag! How to Toot Your Own Horn without Blowing it by Peggy Klaus. Every single year, I read the chapter on ‘prepping for your yearly performance view’. The second is How Women Rise: Break the 12 Habits Holding you back from your next raise, promotion or job by Sally Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith.

These books are easy to read and contain practical tips for women. I saw myself and women I manage in many of the examples.

I also really like the Freakonomics podcast.

5. What advice would you give to future entre/intrapreneurs looking to make their mark on the world?

1) Pay attention to the work that doesn’t feel like work – and spend more time doing that.

2) Pay attention to when you disagree with the status quo. If you can imagine another option, put together a hypothesis, socialize it for feedback and put together a business plan to test it.

3) Many people have good ideas – it’s the people who can make them a reality that we remember.

4) Practice resilience. Most great ideas require many, many tries before they really stick.

From innovative thinking, to practical advice, and her reflections on navigating growth and change, Leah shares with us insights into the things that have shaped her into the impactful leader that she is at NBA Canada.

Stay up to date with Leah on LinkedIn!

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(Photo Description: Portrait of Leah MacNab)


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