There’s no doubt to any observer in the industry that
On his start in footwear:
Parker attended Penn State, where he studied political science and was on the track and cross-country teams. There, designing shoes quickly became a part of his life. “I would modify my shoes to try to make them better,” he tells me. To achieve this, he’d do things like altering the outsoles for more traction, fixing the uppers for more support, and changing the sock liners. Only later did Parker realize this shoe-tweaking practice was rather unusual, or at least for the time it was. To him, doing so simply felt intuitive.
On his early days at Nike:
Early on, even while designing shoes, Parker was tasked with starting up other areas of the company. “I’d see a need or something that could help the company be better, and I had the freedom to go and create it,” he says. “There was a lot of support from the very beginning. I learned a lot. I was able to help shape the company in a way that made us stronger.”
On Nike’s strategy of collaboration:
Today, it’s clear to Parker that it’s not Nike’s place to compete with “the Apples, Intels, Microsofts, Googles, and Samsungs,” as he describes them. Instead, he views partnerships with those sorts of companies as the best way forward. Collaboration, whether with Apple, Michael Jordan, or the rapper Skepta, has long been a core interest of Parker’s. “A partnership has to bring something unique,” he says. “Both parties have to add value. Coming together, we can do something that either one might not really do on their own.”