Executives Spotlight stories appeared on this website starting in 2001. Some of the executive's professional experience may have changed since they were published.
Spotlight - January 26, 2009
President, Chicago Fire
As a recruiter, it is my job to try to quickly assess whether a person's skills fit a given role. Over the years, I've had to develop baselines of people's aptitudes and can, within a few questions, tell whether someone might be better in sales, marketing, community relations, etc. Early in my career, I probably viewed people in two dimensions. Then there were shades of gray, and now after over 20 years, I have become acutely aware and excited that even people I thought I knew can be mosaics of unanticipated colors.
Dave Greeley was born and raised in Michigan and attended the University of Michigan where he received his undergrad and MBA degree. He bleeds maize and blue. His persona fits into the category of Midwestern values, V-8 automotive. He's hard-working, hard-charging on all cylinders. No surprise, he gravitated to sponsorship sales. Salesman, hard-charging, hard-working, Midwestern values, pushes the envelope. He started his career marketing hockey, a cross checking, pounding into the boards, slicing speed skating sport, and landed his next career stop with the Pistons - the ultra hard chargers because they never stop selling. So it wasn't unexpected that after selling college sports in the west for a few years, Dave wanted to come back to the Midwest to spike sales for the Chicago Bears as they quickly needed to retrofit themselves into a new Soldier Field. The Chicago Bears. Mike Ditka. It just resonates run up the middle, block and tackle aggression. Plain and simple, Dave was their hired gun.
I had the chance to work with Dave recently as he was assembling his senior staff at the Chicago Fire, an MLS team with new ownership. I witnessed a dimension I had not seen before. I was struck by his peripheral, strategic vision. He hadn't changed his pace, and I valued it as he moved promptly to assemble his senior staff in his new job. But he drilled down on his interviews with potential senior executives, crossing off a list of pre-planned questions. I valued his ability to ask the tough question, yet put people at ease with their response. I marveled at his openness to consider people he didn't know to serve by his side and I valued how comfortable he felt hiring people whose skills some may say could be greater than his own.
While the wind and snow were storming over Lake Michigan, in a course of 5 mile ride we shared that took us 45 minutes, I saw the personal rainbow of colors of Dave Greeley when we talked about his family.
Several years ago, his son developed an acute disease. For weeks, traipsing their son from doctor to doctor and hospital to hospital as his son continued to fight for his life, Dave and his wife continued to pursue the cause and cure. Using his same kind of no holds barred, aggressive pursuit that served him well in sales, Dave and his wife fortunately found the culprit. No cure, but manageable. And to this date almost eight years later, Dave and his wife wake with their son at 2am every morning to administer his medication. This is their commitment to him and his life, an acceptable disruption of theirs, until longer-lasting medication is found. Dave's wife, I'm sure, had no idea her life's mission would be to seek a cure for this disease.
Resumes never include the personal responsibilities we carry into our work experience. Maybe we are afraid to show them. Yet these personal responsibilities are truly our strengths. They weave rainbows into our personalities. More than black, white, shades of gray. The journey is enjoying the unexpected colors of our comrades.
"Sometimes in our lives we all have pain
We all have sorrow
But if we are wise
We know that there's always tomorrow...
Please swallow your pride
If I have things you need to borrow
For no one can fill those of your needs
That you don't let show."
- Written by Bill Withers, often sung by Neil Diamond
- Buffy Filippell
"When Dave's son became sick, I got to see another side of Dave than the singularly focused guy I knew. I remember hearing about letters that Dave keeps on his wall - D.I.R.M. I asked what's that? He replied, "Does it really matter?" It is his reminder that his son's life threatening illness puts his work interactions into perspective."
--Harry Hutt, former boss and now Executive Vice President, Business Development, Tampa Bay Lightning
What I do...
Dave is responsible for the profit and loss of the Chicago Fire MLS team and its stadium, Toyota Park. He oversees sales, marketing, public relations, community relations, player operations, stadium management, public affairs, and finance.
HOW I GOT HERE...
CHICAGO FIRE; Bridgeview, IL; 2008 - present
KEMPER SPORTS MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS; Chicago, IL; 2006 - 2008
Executive Vice President and General Manager
CHICAGO BEARS FOOTBALL CLUB, CHICAGO, IL, 2000 - 2006
Chief Marketing Officer
Senior Director of Sales & Marketing
PAUL ALLEN SPORTS GROUP, PORTLAND, OR, 1997 - 2000
Director of Business Development, Portland Trail Blazers, July 1997 - May 1999
Vice President Sales, Action Sports Media, April 1999 - September 2000
PALACE SPORTS & ENTERTAINMENT, AUBURN HILLS, MI, 1994 - 1997
Director of Sales
Senior Account Executive
COMPUWARE SPORTS CORPORATION, FARMINGTON HILLS, MI, 1988 - 1994
Assistant General Manager, Detroit Jr. Red Wings
Director of Marketing/Public Relations, Detroit Jr. Red Wings
Manager, Compuware Arena