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Andy Papathanassiou

Andy uses his championship experiences to deliver engaging keynotes and events that center around going, "Over The Wall™," a philosophy he developed to bring the athletic mindset to any team.

Fee Range: $ $10,000 - $15,000

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SPEAKER BIOGRAPHY

Andy Papathanassiou became the first professional racing, “pit crew coach,” when NASCAR’s renowned organization, Hendrick Motorsports, hired him on their new team, created for (then rookie) hall of fame driver, Jeff Gordon.  For the racing novice, Hendrick Motorsports is an elite professional motorsports organization with multiple NASCAR teams, 600 employees and a $100 million dollar plus operating budget.  Over the ensuing twenty-eight years at HMS, while amassing over 250 race wins and 16 series championships, his philosophy and views as an outsider ultimately shifted the paradigm of how all pit crews select and develop their team members.  Working with the Championship teams of, Alan Kulwicki, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Chase Elliott, Andy brings his vast experience and winning expertise to any group looking for the secretes of team success, through keynotes, presentations, and amazing experiential events.  In truth, there are no secretes, only Andy’s inspiring and methodical approach, Over the Wall, built on culture, people, accountability, and execution.

“Papa” grew up in Emerson, New Jersey, the son of Greek immigrants, who favored education over sports. He attended Emerson Jr./Sr. High School, where, as a National Honor Society member, he played on the football team, leading it to a perfect season in 1984. Throwing the shot put, he was a USA Today All-American and held the NJ state record for over a decade. He played college football as an offensive lineman, on scholarship at Stanford University, starting every game of his college career. He graduated, earning a bachelor’s degree in Economics and a master’s in Sociology, emphasizing in Organizational Behavior.

After college, still with the dream of being a professional athlete, he discovered NASCAR by sneaking into the Sears Point (now Infineon) Raceway, in Sonoma, CA., and volunteering with a team during the 1990 NASCAR weekend.  This is where he saw his first pit stop.  Following the series back to North Carolina and building his racing resume, he joined Hendrick Motorsports in 1992 as the #24 DuPont team’s pit crew coordinator; a groundbreaking position in NASCAR. Papathanassiou defied conventional methodologies and sought pit crew candidates with athletic, not mechanical, experience. He had them practice frequently and undergo team building exercises as well as fitness training. Under his guidance, Jeff Gordon’s 1995 pit crew consistently had the fastest pit stops, which contributed towards the team’s first championship.  Many record setting performances followed. Other teams took notice, and by the late 90s most teams had adopted Papa’s methods.  Teams now recruit and employ many former college athletes.  Pit stop times decreased from 18 or 19 seconds in the early 1990s to 11 seconds today.  This decrease in time happened despite a reduction in crew size, from a max of eight members, down to five, due to rule changes over time.

Previously, mechanics, who devoted little time to practicing pit stops, comprised pit crew rosters – relying instead on their individual knowledge of car building, tools, and racing experience for at-track performance. Andy, employing Over the Wallthinking and problem-solving approaches, focused on practice and repetition, coaching and review, innovation, and process improvement. Racing organizations now regularly recruit former players, from a number of different college and professional sports, who undergo rigorous training aimed at acclimating and adapting their athletic skillsets to particular pit crew positions.

During his career as Director of Human Performance, Andy designed, grew and lead from inception, the 50-member, multimillion-dollar pit division, responsible for nationwide recruiting, development, contracts, logistics, health and emotional support systems for elite athletes.  In the corporate office, he designed and lead Human Resources for the organization, which included creating company policies and procedures, hiring practices, employee training and retention, performance evaluation, and federal/state/local compliance.

In 2006, concurrent with team duties, he was elected and served a six-year term as Executive Director of the North Carolina Motorsports Association (NCMA).  The NCMA and its board of directors represent the state’s multibillion-dollar motorsports industry.  The association advocates for a diverse client base of over 200 member organizations, including teams, tracks, facilities, manufacturers and suppliers, marketing agencies, educational institutions, and government interests, with 20,000 sector employees.  He remains on the Board of Directors.

 

Andy Papathanassiou's Programs

ANDY PAPATHANASSIOU’S PROGRAMS

OVER THE WALL™ – think like an athlete

Keynote program information:

Over The Wall – think like an athlete” is a powerful talk aimed at developing and instilling, athlete inspired, winning and problem-solving techniques, to high-performing, high-expectation corporate teams.  Andy talks about the make-up of highly successful teams, how passion creates momentum to overcome obstacles and make things happen.  From pit crews to sales teams, engineers or surgical units, all embody the same universal characteristics.  This is true for any group assembled to accomplish a common goal. Andy discusses leadership and the individual’s role.  He coined the term, “Over The Wall Thinking,” to describe his philosophy. Over The Wall Thinking focuses on athletic mindset. It doesn’t matter if you know anything about, or participated in competitive events, such as racing. It doesn’t even matter if you like sports at all. The cognitive building blocks of athletics transfer outside of the arena and give each of us the ability to lead a more engaged, successful and happier life.

Over The Wall Teambuilding – Turn your Crew into a Pit Crew

An optional add-on or stand-alone interactive segment with a real race car.

Over The Wall Teambuilding sessions are also available to remote and hybrid teams.

Join the exciting and competitive world of professional motorsports by transforming your executives, marketing divisions, project teams, employees, and guests into NASCAR pit crews.

You’ll use the same equipment the pros use, even down to actual race cars that have turned laps at tracks like Daytona, Indy and Charlotte.  Organize your team – choose your positions, then create your choreography. Use powered wrenches to zip off lug nuts.  Swap out tires then tighten ‘em back up!  Every tenth of a second counts, because you are competing for best time on the stopwatch, against your fellow teams –just like race day. All ages, genders and levels of fitness can easily and safely participate.

While the fun factor is off the charts, we manage to sneak in some very powerful learning too – debriefing topics like team culture, leadership, communication and innovation!  Participants retain this knowledge because they experience the visceral and personal emotions of competition inherent in the exercise.  This is a guaranteed, “best ever,” corporate event.

This experiential, interactive, hands-on session, can easily be staged at just about any meeting venue, without fuss or mess. There is no smoke, loud noise or power requirements.

Andy has performed Over The Wall in many different locations, both indoor and out.  The event does not need to be conducted at a racing venue. As for duration, it can be done in as little as a half-day session with two hours of set up and tear down time required before and after the event.

Andy Papathanassiou's Books

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