Alumni Award Winners
|Lewis L. "Lee" Bird III '86|
|Professional Achievement Award|
The focus and determination that served Lee Bird so well as an all-American swimmer at IC has helped him rise to the challenges of the business world. After 23 years leading some of the world’s most successful companies, Lee is now the managing partner of Bridgetown Capital Partners, a private equity firm he founded in Portland, Oregon.
Graduating with a degree in finance, Lee went to work as a commercial lender at BayBanks in Boston. He also studied nights at Babson College to earn his M.B.A., which he received summa cum laude. After leaving BayBanks, Lee went on to hold executive positions in finance, operations, and strategy at Gateway Inc., AlliedSignal, and Ford Motor Company.
In 2001 he joined Gap Inc. as senior vice president of Old Navy Finance and Real Estate. Within a year he added the store operations and distribution organizations to his reporting structure. Lee was promoted to executive vice president at Old Navy in 2003 and later that year to executive vice president and chief operating officer at Gap U.S. Heading an organization of more than 60,000 field employees and roughly 100 headquarter employees, he was responsible for the process side of the business, with a focus on efficient and high-performing operations.
Lee left Gap to become president of the Nike Affiliate group of brands, which included Converse, Cole Haan, Hurley, and Umbro. He was also head of corporate mergers and acquisitions and a member of Nike Inc.’s Executive Committee. Under Lee’s leadership, each brand in his portfolio experienced record growth, market share gains, profitability, and return on invested capital. In 2009, he founded Bridgewater Capital Partners, which focuses exclusively on consumer and retail investments.
In addition to his business commitments, Lee is a guest lecturer on corporate strategy and mergers and acquisitions. He has spoken at numerous universities, including Ithaca College’s School of Business and Babson College’s F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business, as well as the Marriott School of Business at Brigham Young University and the University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business.
Lee’s commitment to balancing work with family involvement has garnered national attention. He and his wife, Linda Partridge Bird '86, and their seven children have been featured on several national news outlets, including ABC’s Good Morning America, ABC National Radio, and National Public Radio.