Meet the Boss: Mark Parker, the brains, flair and CEO of Nike
Mark Parker is very unique in the lofty world of CEOs. Why? Well he joined the company as a designer in 1979 and worked his way across the treacherous divide between the creative and business worlds to eventually become CEO in 2006.
That's rare in the world of fashion, be it in sports apparel, footwear or high end fashion. The usual combination is a one-two of brilliant creative mind working closely with a brilliant business mind. The creative creates brilliant product, the business mind creates brilliant revenue. Mark Parker does both. The result being as CEO he works a lot on collaboration so he can still indulge in the creative and design process with athletes, artists and designers to keep the Nike product innovative all the while keeping his eye on the market, competition and bottom line.
Parker is as comfortable researching new textiles and sole-cushioning techniques as he is discussing share prices with investors and stockbrokers. Day-to-day in Portland, Oregon at the company's HQ, Mark works as part of a three-man R&D team along with Tinker Hatfield and Japanese designer and creative consultant Hiroshi Fujiwara. They work together without a budget or timeline constraints to create new product ideas and pathways forward for the brand aesthetically and socially.
The Nike social media footprint is huge; they have just launched a Digital Sports division (check out the Nike Fuelband) and have also crossed the sports/fashion divide without consciously trying to. A pair of Air Max can be worn under a suit as well as a party dress these days. At this year’s World Cup in Brazil 53% of the players wore Nike.
A former track runner himself, since taking over the role as CEO, company revenues have soared by 60% and profits by 57%. The company recorded profits of $27.8 billion for the fiscal year ended May 2014. $2.3 billion dollars of that is attributed directly to football revenue according to Business of Fashion. Mark Parker is more than playing his part.
His personal style is what I would call, relaxed, CEO-style. Lots of dark suits, open neck shirts, usually finished off with a pair of Nikes of course.