Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Six Months

It’s been about six months since I joined adidas and several posts ago I wrote about my experience of starting my new career here. Many of you have written me to ask why I haven’t continued to talk about what it’s like to work here now that I’ve been here for a while. To be honest I’ve been working on so many projects that I haven’t had time to write. It’s amazing though in six months how much more insight you have into an organization, it’s culture, norms, etc. So here I am, working from home this morning with a little bit of spare time to write an update about my experience here six months later.

Again—I want to premise that I’m a recruiter so it’s my job to sell the organization. I’ve lived by some simple rules though—I won’t sell something that I don’t love. If I didn’t love it here so far I would leave. The experience has been amazing so far and everyday this place grows on me more. First off—there is a realness and rawness about working at adidas. Maybe this stems from being born of sports. The culture is one where people don’t look for the barriers—we focus on where we want to go and we work hard and fast to get there. It’s very much like being on a sports team at adidas. It’s not about personal gain here. It’s about team gain. We play to win. The organization is also nimble. We aren’t this massive bureaucratic, red-tape environment. We tend to have smaller teams, bigger roles and responsibility and a lot of creative latitude. If we screw up we get back up and play harder next time. I’ve had the experience of working on fat, over-resourced teams in the past and while this is probably appealing to some—I’m really enjoying having a broad scope and nimble team with fast execution.

We have a new president that started not long before I started. He leads with a strong vision and clear goals. I can’t get into details of his specific strategy but he brings a clear path that the entire organization can work towards. With this there is a lot of change within the organization. We have built the organization on this nimbleness though and will continue to do so. If you are reading this and thinking you want to work here the more flexible you are the better. If you are mobile, can try new things and adapt quickly to strategy changes then you will thrive here. If you are the type of individual that wants to come in and do the same job for five years you will struggle. I worked in the tech PR industry before this so change is the only thing I knew—for me this is perfect.

It’s also energizing to see the love for the brand people have. Random people come up to me all the time to tell me about their first pair of adidas and what the brand has meant to them. I recently did focus groups for an employment branding project I’m working on and almost everybody universally told me that they love that adidas has always remained authentic. I understand what they mean to. Most companies I have worked for in the past overly fixate on their competitors and try to do it better. At adidas the focus is really on the customer and staying true to them. Of course I can’t say we don’t want to beat the competition but we don’t do this by replicating what others are doing. We do this by listening the customers and making product that caters to them. I think this is what makes adidas unique and not just another mass production consumer goods company. I like working in environments that are just different and unique.

I get to work on projects that have global scope. I’m on the phone weekly with other countries. It’s almost impossible to work at adidas and not interact with people from around the world. This doesn’t make the job easy but it makes it rich. The ability to have global perspective opens up entirely new possibilities and perspectives on a project that you would never otherwise get. The adidas vision is really premised on improving lives through sport. Bringing people together on a global level, getting kids to focus on the right values and becoming good teammates, improving the performance of athletes and everyday people so they can live healthier lives. We get to see this inside and outside the company around the globe. You realize we are part of something much bigger working at adidas. You get to see it first hand. This has been invaluable learning so far.

Okay, I can go on for hours about different aspects of the adidas culture. I will write more about it soon. I’ll leave you with this; I’m not going to say every aspect of the job is easy and always fun. All jobs have challenging aspects about them. What I will say is that I’m given the latitude to make real change, take on meaningful challenges and have an incredible team and support by management to achieve impossible things.

No comments: