Nike and Under Armour CEOs to leave posts

Nike’s CEO Mark Parker and the CEO of Under Armour, Kevin Plank, have announced they are stepping down from their roles in January.

Mark Parker, who joined Nike in 1979, is stepping down after 13 years in charge of the world’s largest sportswear company, according to a statement. Parker who also has been President and Chairman since 2016 will become Executive Chairman.

John Donahoe, 59, a Nike board member and CEO of cloud computing company ServiceNow, will become Nike’s new President and CEO from 13 January 2020. Donohue has spent a number of years in charge of eBay and is Chairman of PayPal. Bill McDermott, who was CEO of SAP from 2014, will succeed Donahoe as CEO of ServiceNow.

“This is an exciting time for Nike where we see brand strength and momentum throughout the world and great opportunity for future growth,” said Parker. “I am delighted John will join our team. 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 Offence. I look forward to continuing to lead the Board as Executive Chairman, as well as partnering closely with John and the management team to help him transition to his new role.”

Parker has presided over the company at a time of robust sales growth and a rising stock price, Nike has also faced a number of controversies under his watch. Earlier this month, Parker was found to have a direct link to a doping scandal, Forbes reported. The US Anti-Doping Agency stated Parker was included on several emails that outlined that Alberto Salazar, a Nike-backed coach, was trying to find a performance-enhancing drug that would evade a positive drug doping test.

In 2018, two former female employees sued the company, describing a toxic workplace where sexual harassment and gender discrimination were not uncommon. They claimed Nike often hired women at lower salaries than men and promoted men more frequently than female workers. The women also claimed that reported incidents of sexual harassment were ignored or poorly dealt with. Parker had to apologise and several executives, including Trevor Edwards, who was president of the Nike brand and widely considered a top candidate to succeed Parker. Edwards also left Nike earlier this year.

“It is an honour to become President and CEO of this amazing, innovative company, and to join 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.”

Bill McDermott, who was CEO of SAP from 2014, will succeed Donahoe as CEO of ServiceNow.

Under Armour CEO and founder Kevin Plank (left) will also leave the top job on 1 January, with Chief Operating Officer Patrik Frisk replacing him as CEO of the manufacturer of sportswear, footwear and accessories, based in Baltimore, Maryland.

Kevin Plank, CEO of Under Armour

“Patrik is the right person to serve as Under Armour’s next CEO,” the 47-year-old Plank said in a statement. “As my partner during the most transformative chapter in our history, he has been exceptional in his ability to translate our brand’s vision into world-class execution by focusing on our long-term strategy and re-engineering our ecosystem through a strategic operational and cultural transformation.”

Plank founded Under Armour in 1996 working in his grandmother’s basement and still studying at the University of Maryland. He floated the business in 2005 and as CEO oversees a company that generated US$5 billion in annual revenue and employed about 15,800 people as of December 31, 2017.

Plank is the identifiable face of Under Armour, often appearing at events with sponsored athletes or other prominent executives like Sir Richard Branson, as part of Under Armour’s partnership with Virgin Galactic for new spacesuits last week.

Plank remains executive chairman and will likely remain very involved in the larger direction of the company, while leaving the daily operational details to Frisk.

Frisk joined Under Armour in July 2017 from his position as CEO of Aldo Group. Frisk has been trying to lift the brand’s sales in North America, which has not yet returned to growth. North American revenue fell 3.2% in its fiscal second quarter, reported in July. The company forecasts a “slight decline” in the region’s sales for 2019. Previously, the company expected North American sales to be “relatively flat”.

“The opportunity that lies ahead of us is incredible,” Frisk said in the announcement today. “As our entire global team continues to lean hard into our transformation, I am honoured to lead this great brand toward the realisation of its full potential.”

Under Armour has a market value of US$9.1 billion.

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