The Padres reportedly will interview the only female General Manager candidate today. Since 2011 she has been the Senior Vice-President for Baseball Operations with Major League Baseball. Before that she was the Assistant GM for the Dodgers from 2001 through 2011. She has been working in baseball since 1991 when she interned with the White Sox. From there, after promotions to higher positions with the White Sox, she went to work for the American League office in New York in 1997. A year later she was an Assistant GM with the New York Yankees.
People that talk about Ng talk about how smart she is. And given the male domination in the sport among front office positions you would probably expect her to have to be the smartest person in the room most of the time in order to make it as far as she has. She has an analytical mind, one that has been noted as good with numbers. Her most famous acts in baseball have been winning arbitration cases. That shows an ability to be able to analyze a player’s value and assign a dollar value you to it that multiple parties can agree on. That sort of ability translates to many facets of a baseball executive’s duties including free agency contract offers (and non offers), extensions for players currently on the team, signing bonuses for draft picks and signing international players. But her strengths go beyond the numbers.
Sabr.org has a great article on Ng that was published in 2011. There are quotes from her old boss former White Sox and Dodgers GM Dan Evans that help paint a picture of Ng.
“Kim is one of the most inquisitive minds I’ve ever been around,” says Evans, president and chief executive officer of Paragon Sports International, a Pasadena, California-based sports management firm. “She asked really solid questions as to why we were doing certain things. As a result, it made me rethink some of my beliefs and procedures. You could tell that she was going to go far because she had that combination of street smarts, book smarts, and stick-to-it-ive-ness that you can’t teach.”
It also talks about what her duties had been as Dodgers assistant GM.
In addition to handling arbitration cases, Ng’s duties include negotiating free agent contracts, conducting trade talks, overseeing pro scouting—the department that compiles the information [Dodgers GM Ned] Colletti uses to make decisions on trades or free agent signings—and running Campo Las Palmas, the Dodgers’ academy in the Dominican Republic. During the season, a typical day for Ng includes getting an update on the organization’s minor league teams, dealing with transactions ( placing a player on the disabled list, calling up a replacement, etc.), and making calls to player agents. The rest of the time is spent evaluating players. As she watches from the stands, any number of questions might go through Ng’s mind: What does the club need? How can this player improve? How do these players fit into the future?
And about her struggles to break through to the GM position:
In 2011, Ng entered her 20th year—12 as an assistant GM—in professional baseball. Her peers say she has paid her dues and has done everything to prove that she is capable of leading a major league team. Still, she keeps getting passed over for the top job— the Dodgers in 2005, the Mariners in 2008 and, most recently, the Padres in 2009.
“You have to be persistent to break into this game, and you have to be really good to stay in this game,” says Ng. “That takes a daily level of commitment.”
Ng’s colleagues say that it’s just a matter of time before she gets tapped for the top job.
“As I told her [after the Padres interview]: ‘This is no longer up to you. You’re prepared. You just need the opportunity and someone to believe in you and give you a chance,’” says Colletti. “It’s beyond her control at this point. She’s done everything she can to put herself in that position. She deserves the opportunity and it will take someone willing to give her the opportunity to make it happen.”
That persistence sets her apart from many of the other candidates. Many of the others are rising stars like Mike Hazen, Billy Eppler, Ray Montgomery and A.J. Preller who are getting one of their first cracks at interviewing for the top baseball management job. She has been in their shoes before, experienced it and still worked tirelessly in baseball with the hopes of getting another chance to convince someone she is the best candidate. In previous GM candidate discussion some of the focus was on how the Padres are looking for someone with a player development background. While that has not been a sole focus for Ng, it has been one of her many focuses. And as a GM you need to master managing many things and many people at once. That is something that it would seem Ng excels at.