SBJ/Aug. 12-18, 2013/People and Pop Culture

Tim Zue, vice president, Fenway Sports Management

His career path followed blind email to Fenway Sports Management

Taking career risks has led Tim Zue to his dream job. After working for Bain Consulting and as a middle school teacher, he sent a blind email to Boston Red Sox President Larry Lucchino and landed an unpaid internship working on business analytics projects. Now a vice president with Fenway Sports Management, he spoke with Boston Business Journal correspondent Keith Regan.

Photo: W. MARC BERNSAU
What are your top three goals for the year?
My top goal is to ensure the success of our new Red Sox Rewards program for our season-ticket holders. A lot of sports teams have tried loyalty programs, and some have done better than others because it is challenging to design and to get high engagement. … A second goal is to continue to get to know our fans, gain their insights and hear their feedback. And on a personal level, I think I’m on track to set a Guinness record for most pictures taken of a baby before her first birthday. My daughter is 10 months old and I think I’m up to 5,000 photos.

What is the toughest business decision you’ve made?
The decision to leave Bain Consulting after less than two years … to pursue a job teaching middle school math. It was a risky decision at the time to leave a well-compensated job to try my hand in a field I was passionate about, but in retrospect it was the right decision, and I had a great four years in teaching.

What has been the most influential book you’ve read?
One that stands out is Steve Jobs’ biography. I was fascinated by his life story and his view on success, and one point that really resonated was his focus on simplicity versus complexity. Sometimes people like options, but not necessarily too many.

What are your guiding principles for good management?
You have to give employees room to think independently and room to fail. I know some of my best learning has come through challenges and failing. I also encourage consistent communication, both in groups and one-on-one, and I believe in always recognizing great effort or job performance.

Do you have a motto you follow?
The analyst inside of me, the one that loves data, follows “that which can be measured can be improved.” I also believe in the quote from Wayne Gretzky that you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take. I guess I was following that motto when I sent that email to Larry.

Who are your mentors?
Larry is certainly one. I am grateful for him for giving me my start in sports and I have learned from his sensational drive to always make improvements and never be satisfied. My direct boss is Chief Operating Officer Sam Kennedy, and I really admire his ability to develop deep relationships and his management style. And finally my dad. He has always been a role model and mentor to me, but it is only recently that I have begun to recognize a lot of traits and characteristics in myself as things I observed in him growing up.
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