5 Things We Know About John Donahoe, Nike's New CEO
The beginning of 2020 marked a new era for Nike, with long-time CEO Mark Parker stepping down to take up a new role as the brand’s Executive Chairman. Relinquishing his position at the summit of Swoosh, Parker has ushered in a successor – John Donahoe – who officially took the reins on January 13.
‘I am delighted John will join our team,’ said Parker at the time of Nike’s initial announcement about the change of CEOs. ‘His expertise in digital commerce, technology, global strategy and leadership, combined with his strong relationship with the brand, make him ideally suited to accelerate our digital transformation, and to build on the positive impact of our Consumer Direct Offense.’
The former CEO of tech giant ServiceNow, 59-year-old Donahoe certainly has some big shoes to fill following Parker’s prosperous tenure.
Does he have what it takes to lead Team Swoosh into 2020 and beyond? We’ve dug around to find out more about Nike’s new head honcho.
1. He’s On-board!
Donahoe is no stranger to the Swoosh, having served on the board since 2014.
‘It is an honour 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,’ said Donahoe. ‘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.’
2. eCommerce Expertise
Back in 2008, Donahoe ascended to CEO and President of eBay after three years as the Marketplaces President. Juggling both roles until mid-2015, he also expertly filled an executive role at PayPal, as well as serving on the eBay board of directors.
With Nike’s digital expansion in full swing, there’s no doubt Donahoe is calling on all his past experiences – both the highs and the lows.
3. High Achiever
Donahoe holds a bachelor's degree from Dartmouth College, as well as an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Speaking with Financial Times, former Stanford staff member Joel Peterson referred to Donahoe as a ‘legend’ of the institution due to his unusually impressive academic prowess. Despite his excellence, Donahoe sought the help of meditation and a therapist during his tenure due to what he describes as a ‘massive fear of failure’.
He wasn’t just a book nerd, either, making use of his 6ft 5in frame on the college basketball team.
4. A Man With Purpose
Continuing where Parker left off, Donahoe is keen to keep sustainability at the forefront of Nike’s progression.
‘The consumer increasingly cares about sustainability,’ he said in a recent interview with CNBC. ‘It matters to Nike and to consumers. ... [Consumers] are looking to companies like Nike to lead… Climate change is impacting sport.’
Under his short tenure, Nike have already launched the Purpose initiative, which focuses on the brand’s commitment to the future of sport.
5. Not Afraid to Shake Things Up
It took less than a month for Donahoe to come through with his first executive shakeup. He has promoted Andy Campion from Chief Financial Officer to Chief Operating Officer; elevated Heidi O’Neill to President of Consumer and Marketplace from her former role as President of Nike Direct; and Matthew Friend has ascended to Chief Financial Officer.
The changes mean Nike’s three top executives are all new to their posts. Interestingly, Donahoe has chosen not to hire any of his previous colleagues from the tech world to the executive positions, opting to keep the brand’s core free of outside influence.
We’ll be watching with keen eyes to see how Donahoe and co. move the Swoosh forward in the years to come.