Picture courtesy: Telegraph.co.uk
Written by Sonal Jaiswal | Evangelist, Customer Guru
Mark Parker, CEO of Nike topped Fortune’s list of Businessperson of the Year. For someone who has led Nike to where it is now, he has been, surprisingly, an insufficiently celebrated businessperson. In the words of Phil Khight, Chairman of Nike, Parker has been a ‘Nine year old sensation’.
Parker’s rise to the ranks is nothing short of astounding. He joined Nike way back in 1979 as one of the first recruits for Nike. He has, over the years, held multifarious posts at Nike: Manager of Advanced Product Design, Head of Special Design Project Teams, Corporate Vice President of Research, Design and Development and Vice President of Consumer Product Marketing. This pretty much means that he has extensive experience in leading several departments from marketing and product design to brand management.
Parker is also known to have been involved in the design of every iconic Nike sneaker right from the Air Max models to Air Jordan. What is more is that he still participates in the design and innovation process at Nike!
Here are some stats one should have a look at to understand the impact that Parker has had on brand Nike!
Also Parker sticks unwaveringly to the Nike mantra “Serve the athlete”. Little wonder then that the best sportspersons in their respective fields are all Nike patriots. Nike boasts of names like Christiano Ronaldo, Kobe Bryant, Maria Sharapova, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, LeBron James, Tiger Woods and ofcourse Micheal Jordan.
Here are some extremely powerful lessons from Mark Parker.
“Our management approach hasn’t come from studying and reading business books. It’s more intuitive, from the culture of sports. We’re constantly looking for ways to improve. How do you adapt to your environment and really focus on your potential?”
Parker has been the man behind a lot of successful decisions that Nike has taken. It is widely known that the Flyknit, a manufacturing process that created the woven-fabric upper that now makes up many of Nike’s sneakers, took nearly three years to shape up. It became worrisome as a few believed that the massive costs on R&D would never be recouped. But, Parker held his ground and believed that it was the right way for Nike. And look at how it paid off, lessening wastes in the manufacturing and subsequently saving costs! The icing on the cake is that it is very very popular amongst the customers too.
Nike, under Parker, is also one of those companies that focus heavily on footwear technology.
“Companies and people look at the pace of change as a challenge, an obstacle, a hurdle, …. we like to look at it as opportunity: Get on the offense.”
Changing times call for changing tactics and changing techniques. And Nike, under Parker, has exemplified that. According to Forbes, Nike slashed its print and TV advertising by 40% four years ago, shifting those costs to digital marketing, in turn reaching to their customers directly. Isn’t that a wonderful example of thinking ahead of the times, anticipating changes and making changes accordingly?
“We know who we are: we are the company that serves athletes.”
Parker knows who his customers are and his focus on serving them and keeping them happy is immutable. Nike is extremely meticulous and detailed about understanding what an athlete needs to perform and delivers the same.
Are there any other such business leaders that have inspired you to make your organization more customer-centric and better? Do let us know and we’d be more than happy to publish some CEx lessons from them.