Last edited 8:29 a.m., Aug. 16, 2011
Doug Pitt is many things to many people – businessman, humanitarian, philanthropist, ambassador, traveler, photographer, athlete, family man and church member. On paper, he’s a co-owner of ServiceWorld Computer Center, co-founder of nonprofit Care to Learn, and board member of WorldServe International and adviser for its Africa 6000 project.
On this mid-July day, he starts with an 8 a.m. ServiceWorld meeting with JQH Hotels & Resorts, speaking about a technology agreement in place at several of its hotels. He is composed and measured in his quick and to-the-point responses, letting his team and JQH officials do most of the talking but nevertheless holding a noticeable presence. Always active, he twiddles his pen as the meeting progresses.
Pitt uses his ServiceWorld office – decked out in his favorite colors black and white – as a base of operations for a large majority of his affairs, apparent by decorations ranging from awards to professional photographs he took to a movie poster of “Meet Joe Black,” which stars his older brother Brad and debuted in Springfield.
At 8:42 a.m., Pitt holds a meeting with Bass Pro Shops representatives to discuss the upcoming Panther Run at Drury University to benefit Care to Learn. This year, Bass Pro is sponsoring a kids’ marathon.
Next, the work moves to international affairs as Pitt joins a conference call with a German architect, to talk about building a water well in Tanzania, where Pitt is continually active. During the call, he’s checking and sending e-mails.
“I want something going on all the time,” Pitt says. “I don’t like downtime.”
Pitt, who was named goodwill ambassador to Tanzania by Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete in April 2010, is active in helping the country’s people through WorldServe and its subsidiary, Africa 6000, which bring water wells to African villages. The name comes from the 6,000 African children who die daily from waterborne disease, though Pitt notes that due to aid efforts, the name could now more accurately be Africa 4800.
“I know the difference a well makes the second you dig it,” Pitt says. “Overnight, families are transformed.”
His own family is important to him, and he considers family dinner times off limits to any meetings – unless absolutely unavoidable. He says he talks to his Hollywood actor brother just as much as other family, though primarily through text messages and e-mail due to Brad’s job keeping him on the move. Pitt indicates that he views Brad in the same regard as his other family members. "He's a brother," Pitt says.
At 9:24 a.m., Pitt jumps into another conference call with officials of the Starkey Hearing Foundation to discuss its July 24 So the World May Hear Awards Gala 2011 in St. Paul, Minn., where Pitt would receive the Humanitarian Leadership Award for helping the foundation facilitate a hearing mission in Tanzania. Other award recipients include President Bill Clinton and actress Marlee Matlin. Some of his photographs, too, would be sold to benefit the organization’s cause of helping people with hearing impairments. Pitt signs checks for Care to Learn as he accepts compliments on his photos.
From there, it’s a meeting with Care to Learn Executive Director Morey Mechlin to discuss the new Rogersville branch of the organization, which aims to improve the self-esteem of school children.
At 10:11, Pitt cruises in his brand-new Jeep Wrangler (white, with black-colored rims) to James River Assembly of God in Ozark, connecting his iPhone to the car via Bluetooth to call WorldServe President John Bongiorno about a Tanzania project. At the church – which Pitt and his family attend – he facilitates a meeting between the church and Joyce Meyer Ministries of Fenton.
Pitt speaks little in the meeting – his job was primarily to set it up for James River Assembly, a supporter of WorldServe – but he talks up a January trip to Tanzania, where he was part of a group that rode mountain bikes down Mount Kilimanjaro. Normally illegal, the biking ban was temporarily lifted in the name of raising money to provide water for Tanzanians. Photos taken by Pitt during the ride were published in Mountain Flyer Magazine; as a photographer, he has sold about 100 pieces and has photos featured in the Springfield Art Museum.
Pitt also visited Tanzania in June and will make another trip later this year, for a cumulative 50,000 miles in travel.
Following the meeting at James River Assembly, Pitt breaks for a private lunch with a Care to Learn board member, followed by three consultation meetings at 1, 2 and 3 p.m. with ServiceWorld client Students in Free Enterprise.
During the 1 p.m. meeting, Pitt takes a more vocal approach in what serves as a brainstorming meeting with two members of SIFE tech support. “That is an action item,” he says to an idea to improve computer network permissions. “We’re ready to start rocking on it.”
Pitt says a majority of ServiceWorld’s work entails going to clients’ offices, addressing information technology applications and issues. ServiceWorld, too, is no stranger to philanthropy. The company has aided Springfield Public Schools by refurbishing computers, and its employees also are active in Care to Learn.
“As I’ve said to people when talking about volunteering, don’t keep score,” Pitt says. “I really couldn’t tell you how much time I spend. I know it’s a lot.”
At 5 p.m., Pitt heads to Chesterfield Family Center to work out and wind down his day. His family is waiting, and it’s nearly time for dinner.
Third of four businesspeople to be featured in Springfield Business Journal's Day in the Life special series