Nike Executive Shares Insights in COBE Speaker Series

Chris Boyd

Steven Boyd

From the Pete Sampras building on Nike Inc.'s Beaverton, Ore., campus, Steven Boyd '93 reached out to the Radford University campus Feb. 21 for the College of Business and Economics’ (COBE) 150 Speaker Series on branding and marketing.

Via a Skype hookup, Boyd, global product marketing director for Nike's Equipment Division, reviewed the corporation's philosophy and operations, then mused on career success for more than 200 COBE students and guests in the auditorium of the Hurlburt Student Center.

 “If you are interested in the global market, please, please study abroad. The return is amazing," Boyd said. "Also, please learn another language. I’m always impressed with our European colleagues who have a minimum of two to three languages.”

Boyd, a member of the COBE Advisory Council, encouraged those in the audience to take any opportunity to demonstrate their leadership skills, be it as a team captain or in a part-time job. He emphasized that such experience can be leveraged as other opportunities arise. “Look at every job experience as a learning experience," he said. "There is always something you can take from it.”

Boyd also talked about Nike's culture, predicated on its mission statement to "bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world." Nike's definition of an athlete, he said, is, "if you have a body, you are an athlete."  

He discussed Nike's “marketing pip,” the functional grid that underlies its operation.  The pip has five elements: sports marketing, brand marketing, retail marketing, merchandising/product marketing and marketing operations.

As an example, Boyd detailed his work with Nike on a new product—basketball socks—that in three years became a very successful start-up venture.

"We wanted to create sports-specific socks for which there wasn’t really a market. The challenge was to marry style and performance with proper cushioning, and color was one way to do it," he said. "Kids saw it on the players—Nike has over 250 teams. They thought they looked cool and are beneficial."

Boyd recounted meeting cyclist Lance Armstrong, one of the many sports stars who visit the Nike campus and are product representatives for the corporation. "He was very intense," he said. "You can just see how dialed in and focused he is and how that helped him overcome and accomplish what he did."

The next COBE Speaker Series event will feature Don Strehle '78, BB&T's regional president for Northern Virginia. The free public session will be at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday in Young 302.