The Profile

Toro! Toro! Toro!

By Benjamin Gleisser

THE LOWDOWN ON DOWD:

Birthplace: Upper Marlboro, Md.

Residence: Willow Springs, Ill.

Birthday: Sept. 25, 1972

Family: Wife Jennifer; children Bryan, 9, and Jenna, 5

Pets: Beta fish

Generations of family associated with Holy Cross: Four

Dave Dowd ’95 is full of bull. And he’s proud of it.

Dowd, senior director of ticket sales for the Chicago Bulls, loves to hear the deafening cheers that greet the team as they run out onto the court before every home game. A core of exciting young players, anchored by All-Star and MVP candidate Derrick Rose, has ignited the running of the Bulls, who aim to go deep in the NBA playoffs this season. (As of press time in March 2011, the Bulls were second in the Eastern Conference with a 44-18 record and have the fourth best record in the NBA.) “Everyone’s excited by our success thus far, and we’re very optimistic about what lies ahead,” Dowd says with a smile as long as a three-pointer.

Dowd’s job includes hiring, educating, coaching, motivating and managing more than 25 sales reps. When he began selling tickets for the Bulls in 2002, the team was far removed from the NBA Championship squads of the 1990s, led by superstar Michael Jordan (who retired from the Bulls in 1998). Dowd knew he needed to find creative ways to inspire salespeople to hit their goals and fill seats in the United Center.

The best way to inspire people (especially in tough times) he believed, was to praise their hard work and ensure they had all the tools and resources to be successful. “Praise goes a long way,” he says. “Fortunately, despite up-and-down teams over the past eight years, we’ve either led the league in attendance or come in second.”

He also praises his family and their long history at Holy Cross. Great-grandfather Jim Dowd was a plumber who installed fixtures when Fenwick and O’Kane halls were under construction. Grandfather Thomas B. Dowd Sr. ’23 received the In Hoc Signo Award in 1968—and was a 1972 Holy Cross Varsity Club Hall of Fame inductee.  And his father, Tom Dowd Jr. ’64, went on to become the national manager of human resources at Sears.

For Dave, selecting Holy Cross was easy; choosing a major was more difficult. Thankfully, “Father knows best.”

“I asked my Dad for some guidance before selecting a major,” he recalls. “He told me that most successful people tend to be individuals who have the gift of writing and speaking with great effectiveness, skills he developed as an English major at Holy Cross. [He was a] successful and highly regarded businessman for more than 30 years, so I figured I couldn’t go wrong with his advice. Plus, the liberal arts education I received allowed me to take a variety of courses in other disciplines, including many related to the business field.”

After receiving his degree from Holy Cross, Dowd joined MBNA America and eventually became an assistant vice president in business development, managing the multimillion-dollar credit card portfolios of professional basketball, baseball, football and
hockey teams.

His love of sports comes from his grandfather, Tom Dowd Sr. ’23, who was traveling secretary for the Boston Red Sox from 1945 to 1968 and then served as the team’s director of community relations. He was also a National Football League official from 1941 to 1957.

“Unfortunately, my grandfather died when I was only four years old, but I can’t help but think that he ‘pulled some strings’ up above to help me obtain my dream job,” Dowd says. “I truly feel blessed to work for a first-class organization with such a rich history and tradition.”

And that’s no bull.

 Q&A:

Do you ever daydream about being a professional basketball player?


My days of dreaming about being an NBA player ended long ago, but fortunately one of the great perks of my job is playing basketball with colleagues on the Bulls’ court during lunch on game days.

What’s your favorite sports moment?

Game Six of the epic first-round 2009 playoff series with the Boston Celtics. The series went seven games, featured four overtime games (with a total of seven overtime periods) and saw 108 lead changes. I’ll never forget the moment when Game Six  went into a third overtime. Fans were in a complete frenzy, and my 7-year-old son, Bryan, perhaps sensing that my anxiety level was at an all-time high, stood on his seat, wrapped his arm around my shoulder and said, “Everything’s going to be fine, Dad—we’re going to pull this one out.” It was ironic that he was offering words of encouragement and support, since that’s usually my job. We won the game, but lost the series (as my many Holy Cross friends from Boston like to remind me).

Would you ever want to be on “The Apprentice”?


That would be intriguing. (laughs) But with all the time we need to devote to my kids’ activities, I don’t think my wife would like that idea.

Who’s your favorite author?

Although I’m a fan of Shakespeare’s works— thanks to English professor Helen Whall—I can’t say I have a favorite author nowadays. Due to my job and my passion for sports, I read everything related to the Bulls, sports in general and books and magazines about sales/service. Beyond that, I read with my kids. Recently, it’s been the Fancy Nancy and Curious George books with my daughter, Jenna, and the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series with my son, Bryan.