SBJ/February 28 - March 6, 2005/Forty Under 40

Neil Glat

NEIL GLAT, NFL

BY DANIEL KAPLAN
STAFF WRITER

As the NFL’s man of all trades, Neil Glat must know a lot about almost every nook and cranny of the league, if not the world.

Neil Glat
• Age: 37
• Title: Senior vice president of strategic planning and business development
• League: NFL
• Education: B.A., Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, 1989; J.D., Harvard Law School, 1995
• Family: Wife, Dana; daughters Ashley and Isabelle, who turn 2 in March
• Career: Dillon Read, 1989-1991; NFL, 1991-1992; McKinsey, 1995-1997; NFL, 1997-present
• Last vacation: Stayed at home to spend time with family
• Last book read: "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand
• Last movie seen: "The Aviator"
• Greatest achievement: Birth of healthy and happy daughters
• Greatest disappointment: Not having or making time to become more skilled in certain sports and other outdoor activities (e.g., golf, squash, skiing, scuba diving, boating, fishing, martial arts)
• Fantasy job: Be a Michael Crichton-like best-selling author who gets to research, learn and write about topics of interest
• Executive most admired: Al Lerner, former Cleveland Browns owner and MBNA chairman
• Business advice: Never make an important business decision with emotion.
Discussing, among other things, his work with NFL International and his hazy control of French and German, he muses, comically, for a moment about not knowing Esperanto.

Esperanto?

Glat’s historical reference is to the name of an unsuccessful, late-19th/early 20th-century movement to create a universal language. When you speak with Glat you must know the discussion will explore a multitude of different avenues, some obscure and unexpected. His job is to look at every possibility and decipher the right one.

As the NFL’s internal management consultant, he and his team of five are in charge of everything from planning the league’s Los Angeles re-entry to overseeing the budgeting of all internal league operations. He had his hands in the NFL’s recent megasponsorship and licensing deal with Electronic Arts, and is even called on to help out with TV negotiations.

A former McKinsey consultant, Glat says his six-person group is more focused than a traditional management oversight firm like his former employer.

“Whether we are doing an industry evaluation, trying to understand industry economics, who the key competitors are, what is driving their business decisions today, some deal-structuring issues,” the work is more precise, he explained.

And exhaustive. His supervision of the league’s effort to win back the Los Angeles market is truly a Herculean task, from working with the four stadium groups, the local government entities and, of course, the 32 NFL owners he ultimately reports to.

How thorough is Glat?

“Painfully thorough,” said a chuckling John Moag, the investment banker who represents one of the sites vying for an NFL team in Los Angeles.

Mitchell Ziets, who is working with Anaheim’s effort to win a team, said that while Glat is thorough, his style is easygoing.

“He won’t ask 50 different questions about 50 little points,” Ziets said. “He is very bright, very poised. He has a pretty good sense of where he needs to be at the end of the day, whatever deal he is working on.”

The L.A. process has been slow going, and the league has admitted that its long-standing target of having a team playing in Los Angeles by 2008 may be pushed to 2009. Is Glat frustrated?

If he is, he won’t show it.

“It forces you to get ahead when you are dependent on other people’s schedule,” Glat said. “Some [of the sites] have gone faster than we initially anticipated; some have gone slower than we anticipated. That is not frustration. That is just the course you are dealing with.”

In the last two years, Glat’s group has assumed the overseeing of the league’s internal budgeting process. Each group, from media to public relations, now submits its annual budgets, strategy and goals to Glat for review.

In fact, several NFL teams have begun replicating his approach.

Glat’s group acts in a variety of capacities within the NFL. With L.A., it is leading the charge. With, say, the Electronic Arts deal, it worked more in an advisory capacity.

But even there, Glat had skills one might not expect. While he would not describe himself as a “gamer,” he does play video games, saying it can take up to 40 hours to master one. It would have been difficult, he said, to handle the EA deal without knowing the product.

Asked his favorite video game, he replied, “Tiger Woods Golf.” With a league PR executive eyeing him nervously, Glat quickly added, “and Madden NFL.”

With quick thinking like that, he is sure to learn Esperanto soon enough.

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