Douglas Bailey is not your typical business executive. The Westport man, in fact, has danced his way to the top.
The president and chief executive of an international technology firm, Bailey recently won at the highest level in a ballroom dancing competition. Bailey, who has been dancing competitively for 11 years, won with his partner Irina Gorshkova, a professional dancer from Westport's Ballroom Elegance Dance Studio. They competed in an international Pro-Am (Professional-Amateur) competition in Orlando, Fla., last week -- taking first place in all five dances.
"My wife had been asking me to take up ballroom dancing for many years and I wasn't interested," Bailey said Tuesday from Chicago where he was on a business trip. "I finally signed us up thinking it was time for something different, and I fell in love with dancing,"
Eleven years later, he is one of the top men in his category and will compete in November in Ohio. Bailey also traveled to Tokyo last year to dance, and participates in eight to nine top-level dance competitions each year.
In his professional life, Bailey is the president and CEO of Fuel Tech, a technology firm with three U.S. offices, including Stamford, and offices in Beijing, China, and Milan, Italy. He is also the president and CEO of American Bailey Corp., a closely held private equity firm. The busy executive finds time to dance by carefully scheduling both business obligations and dance rehearsals and competitions, he said.
"You have to prioritize your life," he said.
Valadimir Gorshkova, the owner of Ballroom Elegance, 672 Post Road East, along with his wife Irina, said the couple feels very lucky to count Bailey among their students.
"It is very rare for a studio to have a student at such an advanced level," Gorshkova said, emphasizing the word, "very." "This makes me proud," he said.
Gorshkova and his wife opened the Westport studio in 2002 following their own professional dancing career in Europe.
Bailey started dancing lessons there with his wife, Sara, not long after the studio opened. The Baileys both continue to dance there.
Gorshkova praised his prize student, saying that Bailey's success in the business world, although it might seem an unlikely match for a dancer, actually was a perfect fit. "He is a businessman with an analytical brain," which helps him hone his skills in competitive dancing, Gorshkova said.
Bailey, who declined to give his age but dances in the over 51 category, said that dancing is the best exercise he could get.
"Dancing is just a wonderful way to get physical exercise and to keep balance in your life," he said.
The five dances that took him to the top and keep him in prime shape? The waltz, Viennese waltz, foxtrot, quick step and tango.