Meet the Mad Hatter of Headphones

Patrick Grosso juggles a variety of roles at Skullcandy in order to keep the company as sharp as the sound from its speakers

Speaking with Skullcandy’s Patrick Grosso, it’s easy to imagine a man sporting a multitude of well-maintained hats juggling just about anything that might be set in front of him. As vice president of strategic initiative and corporate affairs, chief legal officer, head of global human resources, and corporate secretary for Skullcandy, Grosso’s exhaustive job title is matched by an attitude that is, if not outright infectious, easily understood as one perfectly suited for his leadership position.

“You never know what each day brings. Some people like to be specialized in what they do. I like variety. Being able to take what you learned in one situation and apply it to another is very rewarding,” Grosso says. It’s this variety that seems to keep Grosso sharp and interested in his work. “Having flexibility to me means operating in multiple roles that can positively impact the direction of the company in its operations.” This may include—but is not limited to—maintaining close ties with the legal division, human resources, retail, and real estate, as well as Skullcandy’s shareholders and the board of directors.

Grosso, who began his career as an attorney for the US Securities and Exchange Commission during the Wild West conditions of the early-2000s dot-com boom, seems to always return to the idea of growth when recounting both his past experiences and current colleagues. “The team I work with will be our future leaders, whether at Skullcandy or elsewhere,” Grosso says. “Therefore, it is important to me that they feel they are leaders now, that they own the decisions they make, and that they understand the impacts of their decisions to the company and our workforce.” It’s an attitude that Grosso has cultivated as a guide in a field that doesn’t always lend itself to mentorship.

This search for growth underlines both Grosso’s work philosophy and his goals for the headphone and consumer electronics company. “I have a couple of goals for the brand, which do not change. Short term: I want our global team to be excited about where they work and motivated to be here,” he says.

Those expectations are under literal construction as hopes for a centralized Skullcandy headquarters in Park City, Utah, are nearly realized. The  project, overseen by Grosso, is particularly close to his heart, and his excitement is evident.

“When I think about our Park City team’s daily experience and our global teams and ambassadors visiting, our HQ should be a reflection of our culture and what we stand for,” he emphasizes. Building for the company’s headquarters was scheduled to be completed in April.

When asked about his success, Grosso places communication—especially in a role that requires an abundance of multitasking—as absolutely paramount. “I cannot emphasize enough the importance of communication. To me, it means listening first and speaking second,” he says. Grosso does what he can to avoid communicating via e-mail, memo, or other mediums that lack the ability to convey context and inflection that are necessary to effective communication. This means working hard to make himself available for personal interaction whenever possible. His quest for communicative efficiency is one Grosso finds as part of a larger ideal at Skullcandy. He references CEO Hoby Darling’s maxim as one he always keeps close: “Align early and often.”

“That means making sure you and your team members are in agreement on the path forward, and you can never do that too early or too much,” Grosso explains.

As of late, he has spent a significant portion of his time dedicated to the recent acquisition of Skullcandy by private equity firm Mill Road Capital Management. As a publicly traded company, transitioning to private ownership was no small step for Grosso and the Skullcandy team. “It’s sort of like tennis,” he laughs. “All of these balls keep flying at you, and you’re trying to hit them all back but are never quite sure where they’re going to come from.” This has also meant helping his workforce navigate the sometime turbulent waters of acquisition. While much of the management team was familiar with the process, much of the younger workforce was not. Grosso saw this as a great learning experience for all involved.

Even when relaxing, Grosso’s emphasis is on others. When speaking of his wife and two young daughters, Grosso seems to find comfort in their own journeys. “Seeing them happy and enjoying life is my relaxation,” he says. “If I want to break away from time to time just for myself, snowboarding, water skiing, running, and reading are my escapes.” But escaping doesn’t seem like a verb Grosso spends much time embodying. After all, there are just too many hats to wear and too many challenges to juggle.