Pat Pittard: Baseball team owner, astute businessman
by Murray Poole
Pat Pittard has had many irons in
the fire in the world of business down
through the years and one of his most
intriguing endeavors is his ownership
of a minor league baseball team.
Pittard, the retired CEO and Chairman
of Heidrick & Struggles International,
Inc., the world’s premier
provider of executive-level search and
leadership consulting services, is coowner
of the Greensboro Grasshoppers,
in Greensboro, N.C. The team is
a member of the South Atlantic League
and a Class A affiliate of the Miami
“I was on a board in Greensboro,
the Jefferson Pilot Insurance Company,
and it was affiliated with a sports production
company, Jefferson Pilot Communications,”
said Pittard, explaining
how he got into the professional baseball
business. “Well, I got to know
those guys and the owner of the
Grasshoppers was on the west coast
and didn’t pay much attention to it and
so we decided to buy it. And we built a
new stadium in Greensboro, New-
Bridge Bank Park in downtown. I’ve
been an owner about 10 years now.”
Pittard today is CEO of ACT
Bridge and he’s also a Distinguished
Executive-in-Residence at the Terry
College of Business at the University of
Georgia, which is a faculty position.
Each fall, Pittard teaches a course
called “Lessons in Leadership.”
And what you must also know is
that Pat Pittard is a veteran member of
the Board of Directors of the Georgia
Athletic Association and over the past
12 years of his service, has seen Bulldog
athletics soar to greater heights
than ever before.
Pittard grew up in DeKalb County
where he lettered in four sports – football,
basketball, baseball and wrestling
– at Gordon High School. “I then went
on to the University of Georgia and
graduated from there in 1967, from the
business school,” Pittard related. “After
I left Georgia I went to work for C&S
Bank and then later for an executive
search firm, Heidrick & Struggles.”
Pittard, who has been honored by
the Terry College of Business as a Distinguished
Alumni Award winner, specialized in senior level
searches such as CEO and Corporate
Directors and has placed more than
200 executives in leadership positions.
In addition to his baseball team
ownership, Pittard is a 2002 Appalachian
Trail thru-hiker, and authored
the book Bearfoot, A
In the following question-and-answer
session, Pat Pittard talks more
about his background and his role on
the Georgia athletic board.
What is your occupation?
When I was with Heidrick and
Struggles, it was the largest executive
search firm in the world at the time.
Now I guess it’s second or third, something
like that, and I’ve been gone from
it for 11 years. I’m now CEO of ACT
Bridge, which is a testing company and
we work with them on marketing tests
into the business world. I’m an Executive-
in-Residence at the Terry College
of Business. An executive-inresidence
means you’re on the faculty
but you didn’t get an academic degree.
You kind of got your learning on the
job, so to speak. There’re three or four
in the Terry business school and I’m
one of those. I teach a leadership
course for MBA undergraduates and for
How many years have you
served on the UGA athletic board?
I’ve served for about 12 years on
the athletic board. Before that I was on
the Foundation board and I was chairman
of that board and that was about
16 years ago. I’ve got about a year and
a half left on the athletic board where
I’m on the executive committee.
Where did you grow up and
what made it special?
DeKalb County was a real sportsoriented
county and a lot of athletes
came out of there. The high school
teams to beat in those days were
Avondale, Lakeside and Southwest
DeKalb. Those were the tough teams
in the county.
What has been the most exciting
part for you serving on
UGA’s athletic board?
There’s been a lot of exciting moments.
I was on board when we hired
Coach Richt. I was on the board when
we won all those national championships
in gymnastics and swimming
and tennis. And before I got on the
board, the baseball team also won the
national championship (in 1990).
What has been the most exciting
aspect of your career?
Well, maybe it was something I
did between vocations. When I retired
from Heidrick and Struggles, I
walked the Appalachian Trail and that
was 2,200 miles and took six months
to hike it. And all of the things I
learned there were so much fun and
so interesting, it was something I
think about a lot. And all my business
endeavors were exciting in their own
What do you think are the
biggest challenges for Georgia
athletics in the near future?
Hopefully, we will have a new
president that is as committed to athletics
as Michael Adams has been.
And at some point in time, we are
going to have to transition some of
our head coaches when they look to
move on. We have such wonderful
head coaches and anytime we lose
one, it’s very, very tough to find anybody
as good. But we’ve got a great
athletic director (Greg McGarity) and
so I’m really encouraged. I like everything
I see happening in the athletic
How has the knowledge from
your occupation helped in the
betterment of UGA athletics?
I have been in the talent business
my whole career, selecting people,
promoting people and that sort of
thing. And so maybe I bring that specialty
to the board.
Your favorite UGA sports moment?
I think it was the flea-flicker pass
(in 1965, when Kirby Moore threw to
Pat Hodgson who lateraled to Bob
Taylor, who went 73 yards for a
touchdown that enabled the Bulldogs
to beat Alabama, 18-17). For me, that
was the most exciting moment. After
that touchdown, we still had to go for
two to beat Alabama.