Browse all

Nike changes CEO after 13 years

Mark Parker will shortly leave his role, John Donahoe is gonna take over

Nike changes CEO after 13 years Mark Parker will shortly leave his role, John Donahoe is gonna take over

 On January 13, 2020, Mark Parker, will leave his role as CEO of Nike to John Donahoe. Parker, who in his 13 years at the helm has increased the company's shares by almost 800%, bringing its turnover to over $39 billion in 2019, has announced that he will continue to work for Swoosh as Executive Chairman:

"To be clear, I'm not going anywhere. I'm not sick. There are no issues I'm not sharing. I strongly believe the best way for us to evolve and grow as a company is to bring in a phenomenal talent to join our team who has long been part of the Nike family."

The 64-year-old joined the sportswear giant in 1979, achieving excellent results in each of the positions covered: product designer first, then co-brand president and, finally, CEO. Although he is best known as an expert manager who has played a key role in shaping Nike's brand, he still prefers to describe himself as a "product geek." According to rumors, shoes are his obsession and he designs prototypes of new models everywhere. Talking about him Karl Taro Greenfeld wrote in the Wall Street Journal "Parker thinks in sneakers" and Tinker Hatfield repeats that, without his contribution, the Air Jordan and Air Max would never have been made. The two together created Nike Air, the technology that uses an air bubble in the soles of shoes to improve cushioning and propulsion. An idea that produced billions of dollars of sales. In the last few years, he has pushed the company to invest heavily in research and development and build up a massive patent portfolio and has led Nike's efforts to integrate digital technologies into the company.

The question is why, despite the successes and the fact that a couple of years ago he guaranteed the intention to stay at the head of Nike, Parker is leaving the company? According to analysts, the answer is in the recent scandals that have hit the American giant. In the spring of 2018, for example, the company was accused by some employees of feeding a "toxic" culture, where sexual harassment and gender discrimination are normal.  In order to solve the problem, Nike announced the resignation of brand president Trevor Edward, until that time considered as a potential successor of Mark Parker, following behaviors that "do not reflect the values of inclusiveness, respect and empowerment of the company". More recently, Nike had to close its athletics training center, the Nike Oregon Project, following coach Alberto Salazar's suspension for doping violations. It seems that Parker was aware of the use of testosterone.

With John Donahoe, Nike is preparing for a new beginning. 

“It is an honor to become President and CEO of this amazing, innovative company, and to join the more than 76,000 talented and passionate employees dedicated to serving athletes. Over the last five years, I’ve been proud to be connected to Nike through my role on the Board and now look forward to being a full-time member of the team, working even more closely with Mark, building on Nike’s success and seizing the opportunities ahead.”

The 59-year-old is already a board member of the company since 2014 and currently president of ServiceNow, an American cloud computing company. He also collaborated with PayPal Holdings and eBay. Nike states: 

"Mr. Donahoe brings experience as a public-company CEO and a deep background in technology and strategy. These skills should serve the company well, as Nike continues to elevate and expand its digital platforms and further integrate technology into different facets of the business."

Only time will tell if he will be able to beat Parker's results.