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Chicago Bears promote Paul Neurauter to SVP of operations, sustainability

After six years with the Bears, Paul Neurauter has been promoted to senior vice president of operations and sustainability. Neurauter's expertise in operational efficiency and implementing sustainable practices combined with his decades-long passion for the Bears will help continue to drive the club forward.

Story by Gabby Hajduk

Paul Neurauter still remembers the day his Bears fandom hit a new level.

It was Dec. 6, 1981. The Chicago Bears hosted the Minnesota Vikings in Week 14 for a noon matchup at Soldier Field. Behind Walter Payton's 112-yard performance, Chicago outlasted their division rival 10-9. It was Neurauter's first game seeing the Bears play in person.

Born in Portage Park on the city's northwest side and later moving to north suburban Antioch, Neurauter grew up with "modest means," which meant becoming a fan by listening to Bears games on the radio and watching on TV. But as a 10-year-old boy with a daily paper route delivering the Chicago Tribune every morning, Neurauter won a contest for selling the most new subscriptions. His prize was Bears tickets for the Dec. 6 game.

"I was a fan, but going to see a game live was never something I thought would be possible," Neurauter said. "That sales contest was my first opportunity to go to a game. I remember going door-to-door selling those subscriptions. I recall being really excited – it's a pretty vivid memory."

"Life at that time was all about sports. My friends and I would transition from season to season, sport to sport riding the highs and lows of our beloved Chicago franchises. Now as an adult, I've been lucky that my wife, Amy, is also a huge sports fan, so that annual cycle continues. Our two kids, Logan and Lindsey, had no choice. We brainwashed them from birth."

More than 40 years later, Neurauter is celebrating his promotion from vice president of operations — a role he took in March 2018 — to senior vice president of operations and sustainability.

In his new role, he will continue to lead strategic planning efforts, champion operational excellence, and implement sustainable practices across the organization. Neurauter's multifaceted responsibilities will include overseeing facility operations, logistics optimization and procurement strategies, all while prioritizing environmental sustainability and resource conservation.

"To be part of this iconic and world-renowned franchise is humbling," Neurauter said. "I would be remiss if I did not mention and thank my team. Their commitment and passion supporting the club is infectious. It's been motivating to witness their focus on operating excellence and how they have embraced our modernization journey."

For Neurauter, the new position also brings an exciting challenge of helping both President & CEO Kevin Warren and EVP of stadium development and COO Karen Murphy bring the organization's stadium project to life.

"Working on a stadium project is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I am beyond excited to help build a world class facility for the franchise and for our fans," Neurauter said. "On a personal level, we stress to our kids that life is about making memories. Imagining that someday, I could be sitting in the new building next to my grandkids reflecting on the process that I was part of, gives me goosebumps."

Throughout his time with the club, Neurauter's leadership has been pivotal in driving solutions that improve the fan experience while ensuring cost-effective operations. He has also successfully led multiple real estate development and large capital projects, established a procurement center of excellence and spearheaded business continuity planning initiatives.

"Paul has a very unique skill set that will provide the leadership necessary to amplify a culture of excellence and innovation while also focusing on enhancing our sustainability efforts," said Warren. "Paul has consistently led with distinction, significantly enhancing operational efficiency and embedding a commitment to sustainability within our organization. I am grateful to our chairman George H. McCaskey, and the entire McCaskey family for recognizing Paul's achievements by promoting him to a role poised to further propel the Chicago Bears towards both operational and environmental excellence."

Neurauter possesses over 25 years of experience in supply chain and operations management. Prior to joining the club in 2018, he held various leadership positions at major companies such as Baxter Healthcare, Kraft Foods, Ingredion Incorporated and Abbott. During his time at these highly regulated and large-scale business, he has built a versatile skill set through a variety of assignments and experiences including leading regional and global organizations, profit and loss ownership, guiding restructures, overseeing mergers and acquisitions and associated deal model deliverables, and large program implementations. Complimenting this experience is his education – he earned a bachelors of arts degree in economics from Northern Illinois University and an MBA from Marquette University.

With a stable and growing career in those industries, Neurauter never expected to be presented with an opportunity to work for the Bears.

"I was happily amid my career working for a great company and with terrific people," Neurauter said. "It never crossed my mind to pursue a career in sports. Not because I wouldn't love it, I just didn't ever see the logical opportunity - why would or how would my world collide with professional sports? Then when the opportunity presented itself, I knew in my heart that it was a watershed moment for my career."

Despite the appeal and allure of working for one of the NFL's founding franchises, switching industries and essentially starting over in the middle of his career felt like a significant risk to Neurauter, so he solicited advice from his executive mentor at the time, who asked him two questions: "If you say no, are you going to be wondering 'what if' for the rest of your life?" and "If you say no and change your mind, are you going to ever really be able to get that opportunity again?"

Those questions offered great perspective and resonated with Neurauter, who ultimately decided "nothing ventured, nothing gained." The challenge of figuring out how to transfer and apply his technical and leadership skills from his previous experience to a completely different industry, combined with nostalgic factor of working for the NFL's charter franchise, was the best of both worlds.

"It's been incredibly rewarding to work in an environment where you have the opportunity to leverage your external experiences in a productive way," Neurauter said.

"I'm excited and energized to be part of this leadership team and I'm looking forward to working alongside this collection of talented leaders. I also want to thank our Chairman, George H. McCaskey, the McCaskey family, President and CEO Kevin Warren and EVP of stadium development and COO Karen Murphy for their trust and belief in my diverse experience and skillset."

"It's been six seasons, and every time I walk past the George Halas statue or notice his memorabilia in the display case, I can't help but to be motivated that day. To think through the risk he took, the vision he had over 100 years ago is nothing short of inspiring. Reflecting back, yes, I would have absolutely regretted turning this opportunity down and I couldn't be more inspired to help deliver our business objectives while bringing multiple Super Bowl titles to Chicago."

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