After working for several years in my dad’s company, an automotive supplier, I was ready for something new. I was sick of being the son of…. and I wanted to be independent. Although I was studying Production Engineering and the dream of all my fellow students was to work in the automotive and aircraft industry I couldn´t see myself there. Thinking back, I was more interested in sport, streetwear and sneakers than in cars. Already at the age of five, I was more attracted by my dad’s adidas ZX9000 and adidas Fire running shoes instead of playing with matchbox cars. I was inspecting the sole, the different materials of the shoe and dismantling the interchangeable cushion elements of the adidas Fire like I was dismantling my watch to check why it makes a sound.

During my studies, I was at a point where I realized that I have to go my own way. It was not easy to convince my father but I was determined to follow my intuition and strike out in a new direction. That was the start of my mission “adidas”. Therefore, I applied for a part-time job in the adidas Originals store in Cologne, to work as a sales adviser during my studies. I had no experience in the field of retail except for my passion but I convinced the store manager and got the job. Still today, I really appreciate that the store manager gave me the opportunity to work in the store. My friends didn´t really understand why I was doing this – but I loved working for adidas and I loved my new job, where I was pretty successful as well.

More than just shoes.

When I started, my colleagues taught me all about the history of the company and the classic adidas Originals products. For us, it was not only about selling shoes and apparel – it was more about selling stories and emotions. I loved to see the customers interested in listening to the story of the shoe, happy to buy our products and even more happy if they recognized me again next time. But there was still the inquisitive side of me observing the reaction of the consumers while checking and trying the articles. Getting feedback with regard to what the customers really like and dislike about the product is really important. With every look at the size tag, I checked the place of production and wondered if future production will still be in Asia or if it might get automated and brought back to a more local approach. I was thirsty for knowledge and wanted to learn everything about the brand, the technologies and the industry… To leave my comfort zone and venture into new terrain, I wanted to fully understand how the sports and lifestyle industry ticks and how it connects to the consumer. Long story short: I really enjoyed my time in the store and learned a lot about consumers, their wishes and internal adidas store processes.

At the right place, at the right time

However, to move on and get insights into the next puzzle piece, it was kind of natural for me to apply for an internship at the adidas Group headquarters in Herzogenaurach. Back then, it was a compulsory part of my studies and I thought it would fit perfectly after working in the adidas retail store.  Lucky me –  one Saturday, I was working at the cash desk in the store and a customer showed his Herzo HQ employee card. I mentioned that I was just applying for an internship at the adidas HQ and he told me that he was just finishing an internship and his department was searching for a successor. I applied, had some interviews and six days later I got the internship. I moved from Cologne to Nuremberg for my internship in the Supply Chain Performance Management department. One of my tasks was to analyze the performance of the warehouses with regard to productivity and efficiency. All the articles that we sold in the store were sent from the respective warehouses.

Technology is key for footwear development.

Just before the end of my internship, a job offer caught my attention. The job description sounded like the perfect next step for me: a mix of what I had learned at my father’s company, engineering, and the experience I had gathered in the adidas Originals store. So I thought ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’ and approached the recruiter, asking whether I could do another internship in that respective area. Two weeks later, the last day of my Supply Chain Performance Management internship, I didn´t get another internship but my dream job! Today, I have been working for almost two years as a technician footwear manager in the adidas Brand Operations Product Creation Technologies department. It is a great experience to work cross-functionally, together with Marketing, Design, Sourcing, IT and the adidas innovation team.

Through the process chain from the end to the beginning

Me in one of my favourite places: sourrounded by adidas products.

Probably this has occurred to you already? From my first day as an adidas employee, I went the process chain backwards. I started four years ago as a sales adviser in the adidas Originals store and learned a lot about the products, processes and customer service. Afterwards, I gained brief insight into the supply chain world, and today I am working on the efficiency of production and shoe fitting studies. Due to the experience I gained in retail, I have been able to contribute valuable input to some of my projects. Knowing consumer preferences and having a sales background are extremely helpful. Personally, I believe that everyone working within the adidas Group should have once worked in a store, especially people involved in Product Management, retail and the store environment. I would even extend the one week in a store, where employees could benefit from the experience. Every time I pass an adidas store I like to enter, check the number of customers, the products and chat with the sales team. It is amazing to get some feedback and to talk with the people who have daily contact with the consumer. I even have the feeling that the store employees like to chat with me – because they notice that people from headquarters are interested and care about them. I fully agree with our founder Adi Dassler that “All employees should feel they are members of the adidas family”. I still have my old employee number from my early days in the store and I am proud of it! Are you also passionate about sport and lifestyle? Then check out our retail career site or our global career site for job opportunities.

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by David Coelman 21.02.2014
Great story

I to grew up working with my father and having a love and passion for fashion. Striking out on my own at a young age to start my own fashion merchandising company. 20 years later I am still in the game and love it even more then the day I decided to do it.

I am an Adidas head till the day I die................
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by Trieu 22.02.2014
Very interesting and inspiring blog!
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by Arvid 25.02.2014
Great post. I also have my own "mission adidas" as part of my ongoing explorations of passion and excellence. This blog is a great resource for digging into the guts of adidas. I hope to make it happen and share my own story of success with adidas. Cheers!
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