Interview with Dr. Tiffany Chang


From Pianissimo to Crescendo! Passion, Integrity & Servant Leadership with a Conductor’s Baton

Interview with Dr. Tiffany Chang

Award-winning Orchestra and Opera Conductor
Assistant Professor, Oberlin Conservatory
Associate Professor, Berklee College of Music
Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Interviewed by Yasmina Khelifi
International Correspondent, PM World Journal
Paris, France

Introduction to the interviewee

Dr Tiffany Chang is an orchestra and opera conductor who inspires artists to feel seen, valued, and fulfilled knowing their work matters. Having recently made thrilling debuts at Portland Opera and Opera Columbus, she has received awards from the Solti Foundation U.S., The American Prize, OPERA America, and the international LIT Talent Awards. Tiffany also authors a leadership blog called “Conductor as CEO” where her goal is to increase job satisfaction rates of professional musicians through a focus on creating purpose-driven cultures, promoting psychological safety, and building employee-centric workplaces.

Her “refreshing and thoughtful” leadership on and off the podium has led her to be an active panelist, speaker, and contributor for arts organizations such as the Canton Symphony, Girls Who Conduct, Sound Mind, and Notes from the Podium. Having received a doctorate in orchestral conducting and degrees in cello performance, music education, music theory, and music composition, she also served as professor at Oberlin Conservatory, Boston University, Baldwin Wallace Conservatory, and Berklee College of Music. http://tiffanychang.net

Social Media accounts:

LinkedIn: http://linkedin.com/in/outatime123
Facebook: http://facebook.com/tiffanychang.conductor
Instagram: http://instagram.com/outatime123


Q1:     First of all, thank you for accepting an interview request from PMWJ. Could you tell us how you’ve become a conductor?

Dr Tiffany Chang (Chang):   Thank you, Yasmina, for your invitation. It’s an absolute pleasure to share my story!

I began my musician life as an instrumentalist playing the cello and the piano. During my college years, I quickly found that every aspect of music fascinated me. I wasn’t just interested in performing on the cello. I was equally curious about music composition (what the creative process was like in writing music) and music theory (analysing and reverse-engineering how composers put their work together). l also loved the idea of leading a group of people from point A to point B. I love seeing someone’s mind being open through my leadership and becoming inspired to make music in ways they never thought possible.

Being a conductor allowed me to combine all of my curiosities into one job – I can perform and create art in real time on the stage, I can think about how music works from a composer’s mindset, I can solve mysteries in figuring out how composers put their works together, and finally, I can lead and inspire others musicians.

Q2:     A project manager is often compared to a conductor. Let us explore some of the comparisons and gaps in the following questions. As a conductor to a new team, how do you build your credibility?

Chang:    One of my top core values is integrity. I believe that is the backbone of everything I do. Generally in the field, I’ve built my credibility through being highly consistent in upholding that value for my own work and the way I interact with others. When I encounter a new team, I not only take my integrity with me, but I also assume the responsibility of a leader who is there to serve the people in my care.

I take the effort to emphasise that I don’t have all the answers and that every team member has value to give. We are really stronger together. As a conductor, I was actually not trained to think this way. I was trained to think that I must learn and know everything and that I am responsible for being right. And most musicians in orchestras are trained to expect the conductor to be right and hold all the solutions. If they don’t, they must not be good. One consequence of that is the musicians stop exercising creativity and risk-taking that may lead to long-term growth.

It has taken me a long time to unlearn those expectations. I’ve come to understand that the leader is responsible for eliciting not only the best from my people, but to also create a space where they want to go beyond their best toward personal goals that (ideally) align with the collective group goals. And the only way to access that “beyond” zone is to demonstrate vulnerability as a leader, empathy for my people and what they want, and clarity in why we are all here.

I know that I’ve earned my credibility when people I lead believe that I have their best interest in mind as well as the interest of the collective project.

Q3:    In a project, some team members can backup others. if a musician doesn’t play as intended, how can you handle the situation?


To read entire interview, click here

How to cite this interview: Khelifi, Y. (2022). From Pianissimo to Crescendo! Passion, Commitment & Servant Leadership with a Conductor’s Baton: Interview with Dr. Tiffany Chang; PM World Journal, Vol. XI, Issue VII, July. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/pmwj119-Jul2022-Khelifi-Interview-with-Dr-Tiffany-Chang.pdf

About the Interviewer

Yasmina Khelifi

Paris, France


Yasmina Khelifi, PMP, PMI- ACP, PMI-PBA is an experienced project manager in the telecom industry. Along with her 20-year career at Orange S.A. (the large French multinational telecommunications corporation), she sharpened her global leadership skills, delivering projects with major manufacturers and SIM makers. Yasmina strives for building collaborative bridges between people to make international projects successful. She relies on three pillars: project management skills, the languages she speaks, and a passion for sharing knowledge.

She is a PMP certification holder since 2013, a PMI- ACP and PMI-PBA certification holder since 2020. She is an active volunteer member at PMI France and PMI UAE, and a member of PMI Germany Chapter. French-native, she can speak German, English, Spanish, Italian, Japanese and she is learning Arabic. Yasmina loves sharing her knowledge and experiences at work, in her volunteers’ activities at PMI, and in projectmanagement.com as a regular blogger. She is also the host and co-founder of the podcast Global Leaders Talk with Yasmina Khelifi to help people in becoming better international leaders.

Yasmina can be contacted at https://yasminakhelifi.com/ or LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/yasminakhelifi-pmp-telecom/

To view more works by Yasmina, visit her correspondent profile at https://pmworldlibrary.net/yasmina-khelifi/