08 Oct 2015

Ming Min Hui - Boston Ballet

Ming Min Hui
(MBA 2015)

How did you get involved with the Boston Ballet?

I grew up immersed in a number of art forms, including dancing ballet since I was 4. I had entertained a career in the arts before, but also knew I needed a stronger financial and business acumen if I wanted to be a good manager. So I went to work on Wall Street after college. When I applied to HBS, I wrote that I wanted to do something after business school that had a mission component, whether it was working for a social enterprise or for an organization that was adding value for customers in meaningful ways. Then, as an EC, I noticed a chief of staff role reporting to Max Hodges (MBA 2010), the Executive Director of the Boston Ballet and also an HBS graduate. I met with her and we discovered a really interesting fit. Several key things ended up being salient about the opportunity at the Ballet. First, the mentorship from Max would be a true exercise in developing management-level thinking. The Ballet was also about to go through a massive website and infrastructure upgrade, which aligned with my interest in digital transformation in creative, consumer-facing industries. So the timing was fortuitous.

How has your experience been so far?

For me, this Fellowship was set up to be a “CEO apprenticeship” of sorts in which I could build my managerial skills and explore how I felt about working as a leader in the nonprofit sector. It’s a chance for me to test so many things out—from what it takes to manage a major arts institution to living in Boston. So far, I’m thrilled with the amount of responsibility I’ve been entrusted with and how much I’m learning from Max and the entire organization. And I’m especially excited that I have found work that allows me to put all my business skills to use toward a purpose that I can wake up every day and get behind. I love feeling like no matter what I have to work through or what frustrations I encounter, I’m serving an art form I care passionately about and want to see grow.

What do your responsibilities look like and how do you prioritize them to be most effective?

Max and I think about this role as triangulating against three buckets: high-priority institutional projects (like managing the web redesign project with a concrete one-year timeline), leveraging Max’s time (helping her with things like executive-level reporting and analysis in her role as Executive Director), and institutional capacity-building (driving efficiencies and sharing skills). As Leadership Fellows, we are encouraged to find ways to add value to our organizations quickly and wherever we can, while also driving larger, more tangible outcomes that we can point to at the end of a year. That mindset has helped guide how I’ve thought about prioritizing within these buckets.

How does what you studied and learned at HBS inform your experience?

Everyone says throughout HBS that Leadership and Organizational Behavior (LEAD) is the most important class you will ever take. It’s true. I think about LEAD lessons almost every day in this role, and I’m finding that the soft skills that come out of the case method have really affected how I conduct myself compared to my pre-MBA self. There’s a jump from being an individual contributor to a manager that I never really experienced until now. HBS teaches you how to handle that kind of leap.

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