10 Things You Didn’t Know About Mark Parker


Mark Parker is the perfect example of someone who climbed through a great corporation’s ranks to become its CEO before leading it onto even-greater heights. Although he started out as a shoe designer for Nike, his involvement with a number of its successful projects resulted in him being propelled upwards through its ranks, culminating in him standing in the position of its CEO.

Since that time, he has managed to increase Nike’s earnings while also expanding its influence in countries all around the world, which can be credited to his particular style of management as well as the extent of his familiarity with the corporation’s somewhat unorthodox matrix-styled layout. Combined with his active but nonetheless reserved personality, these successes make him a fascinating figure to those with a strong interest in the world of business.

Here are 10 things that you may or may not have known about Mark Parker:

1. More Than Doubled Sales

Parker took over in 2006. Since that time, he has managed to more than double Nike’s sales, which is remarkable for a couple of reasons. First, Nike was not a start-up but a mature business with an excellent reputation, meaning that there were few low-hanging fruits within its reach in the sense of business opportunities. Second, Nike has an enormous number of competitors covering the entire market, meaning that each it encountered fierce opposition in its expansion. As a result, what might not have been an impressive milestone for a smaller business was impressive for a business with Nike’s circumstances.

2. Promises to More Than Double Revenues By 2020

Furthermore, Parker has promised to more than double Nike’s revenues from $20 billion to $50 billion by 2020. From most people, this would seem like a boast with not much substance to it. However, it is interesting to note that the man is supposed to be a thoughtful and soft-spoken figure, meaning that his promise might not be so audacious after all.

3. Has an Unbroken Record of Successes at Nike

This is supported by a statement from Nike founder Phil Knight that Parker has had an unbroken record of successes at Nike. Something that is all the more incredible because Nike hired the man as one of its earliest recruits right out of college, meaning that said record encompasses four decades of achievements in not just management but also shoe design, which was Parker’s initial field of expertise.

4. Knight and Parker Understand One Another

On the surface, it seems improbable that Knight and Parker would have an excellent relationship based on each one understanding the other. After all, Knight is famous for being a rather short-tempered person, whereas Parker is the opposite though no less demanding. However, the two of them have managed to connect so well that they can go for as long as a month without having to talk things over because they tend to be on the same page, so much so that Knight is actually planning to hand over his position as Chairman to Parker sometime soon in the future.

5. Is an Introvert

People might be used to CEOs with big egos and big personalities who seem to want to make the headlines as much as possible, but Parker is a notable exception to this rule. Instead, he is an introvert who prefers a more reserved approach. Given Nike’s performance under his leadership so far, it seems safe to say that introvert CEOs can be just as successful in business as their more extroverted counterparts, particularly since there are other introverts leading other major companies as well.

6. Still Does Shoe Design

Despite his duties and responsibilities as the CEO of Nike, Parker has still managed to find time to do some shoe design, which is what got him started. For example, he had the chance to collaborate with one of Nike’s most famous designers, Tinker Hatfield, on a couple of limited-run sneakers. One of these sneakers was meant as a partnership with Nike’s long-time spokesperson, Michael Jordan, while the other was meant as a partnership with a famous Japanese designer, musician, and general trend-setter named Fujiwara Hiroshi.

7. Practices Design Thinking

Since he started out as a shoe designer, it should come as no surprise to learn that Parker practices design thinking, which is a process that can be used to solve problems not just in design but also other fields as well. In brief, design thinking consists of four steps: defining the problem that needs to be solved, coming up with a number of potential solutions, refining the most promising of those potential solutions, and then repeating as needed before choosing the best choice for actual implementation. As a result, it can be considered a sensible and structured approach to problem-solving that brings order where chaos once existed, which sounds simple but can be invaluable when it comes to high-stakes decision-making.

8. His Office Is Filled with Art

It is interesting to note that Parker’s office is filled with art. Some of the items are famous, as shown by a couple of paintings by Andy Warhol as well as some sculptures by Dustin Yellin. In contrast, other items are almost mundane in comparison, with excellent examples being busts of Abraham Lincoln and miniatures of Nike sneakers. Parker has stated that part of the reason that his office is so cluttered is that some of the items are things that his wife did not want to keep at their home.

9. Equates Management with Editing

Parker has been known to compare being a manager with being an editor. In other words, his role as a manager is less about dictating what his team members should be doing as well as how they should be doing it and more about helping them refine their ideas for even better results. Furthermore, it is interesting to note that he has expressed the opinion that his editing is never finished, which speaks of a powerful drive for self-improvement that is critical when it comes to ensuring business success.

10. Is a Runner

Given Parker’s initial field of expertise, it should come as no surprise to learn that he has been known to make frequent use of sneakers himself. For example, when he was still studying at Penn State University, he was a member of both its track and its cross-country teams. Based on what he has accomplished, it seems clear that he has managed to put that experience to excellent use.

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