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Carroll School of Management

Mark Parker

President and Chief Executive Officer, NIKE, Inc.

Excerpt from remarks to Boston College’s Chief Executives’ Club of Boston

May 1, 2014

TAKEAWAY: Looking to the Future

You know, my early days working at Nike as a designer, I would sketch a lot—when I was on my way to work, when I was traveling. And seeing my drawings, people would sometimes ask what I did. And I’d tell them I designed shoes. 

Often they’d respond by saying, Really? What more can you do with shoes that hasn’t already been done? You know, that goes back to 1979. And that’s a good question. In fact, it’s a great question. And it’s the one we keep asking ourselves. It’s really the one that keeps us up at night. 

And as much as sports and the business of sports has changed in 35 years, my answer to that basic question has never changed. There is a tremendous amount we can do with shoes and other products. In fact there’s never been so much opportunity to innovate than there is today—and I think by a wide, wide margin.

Whether it’s cutting-edge manufacturing techniques, like waterless dyeing, 3D printing, high-tech knitting, product customization or personalization, digital technology, wearable technology, I still see almost endless opportunities for new innovations and new works to inspire consumers.

Of course, while our opportunities are unlimited, our resources are not. So as we line up against the opportunities to grow and innovate, we have to grow sustainably. You know, I believe that growth and sustainability aren’t contradictory, but complementary. I also believe that businesses that fail to see this won’t have much of a future in business. 

Reducing and eliminating waste, achieving new levels of efficiency in energy consumption, decreasing our water usage—all of these areas present exciting possibilities to harness the power of innovation and to collaborate with new partners and meet our sustainability goals and add value to the business.

So at Nike, we are incredibly energized by the future and all it holds. We’re excited by the new possibilities to partner and to collaborate—not just with athletes, but also with some unconventional partners, like artists, NGOs, and universities, including some great schools and research institutes like right here in Boston. We seek such collaborations because a huge part of our future potential depends on our ability to work with and actually learn from others.