My first 30 days at adidas – a cultural shock
Why working at adidas differs from other companies.
At the entrance of the adidas World of Sports in Herzogenaurach, 30 days ago. Time to become a member of the adidas tribe. Even though I’ve worked for a couple of companies before, these are my first ‘real’ steps in corporate life. I’m confident I prepared as best as possible for today. I soaked up the stories on GamePlan-A.com and the corporate website and I studied the annual report. Still, I’m curious to find out what working here will be like. What’s the peoples’ spirit? Are there any unwritten rules to follow? This is an attempt to summarize the many impressions I’ve had during my first 30 days. “No suit and tie on the first day”. This is what everybody I’ve met and who I happened to deal with at adidas told me. But do they really know? I chose a sporty sweater and a pair of new adidas Boost running shoes in black but I have to admit I was a bit worried I might be underdressed on my first day at work. After all, adidas is a huge public company with over 50,000 employees all over the world. In some ways it must be a bit ‘corporate’, formal and conservative. Luckily, I was wrong on this one and on my first day did not see even a single suit.
The adidas workplace culture
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Forget about suit and tie
Looking back, I can tell you that I really had no clue. What I experienced during the first few days was nothing less than a cultural shock.
During my previous work assignments I experienced that you address people by their last name when you meet them for the first time – especially in Germany. “Hey Flo, how are you?” These were the first words at adidas if I remember correctly. I have to admit it took me several days to get used to the casual tone of voice at adidas but now it already feels normal and I meanwhile wonder why somebody should ever call me Mr. Zimmermann. I realize it’s perfectly possible to have a respectful relationship without formalities. At adidas I have the impression so far that this might be related to everybody’s passion for sport, which keeps the mentality more matey and less formal.
Team up for top results
In my perception there are lots of similarities between a sports team and the way how people at adidas work together. When lots of strong minds team up you can achieve some really great results. Collaboration is key. People openly share their knowledge. Cross-functional networking is just a genuine part of the culture. Inspirational lunches, speaker series, all-employee meetings, there are so many opportunities to learn and grow and meet leaders and employees from all levels.
The work style is fast, open and performance-driven. Everything is moving. People play to win. It feels very good to be a part of it.Florian Zimmermann, Social Media Manager, adidas
When new to a company, it’s important to meet the right people to learn more about the organization and to understand the overall picture. I totally got the opportunities to do so. Everybody was very open, catching up and giving me his/her perspective on things. Another good example is ‘lunch roulette’. Employees can sign up via the social intranet and the system schedules you a lunch date with colleagues from totally different departments and functions. People you have probably never met before. It is not only a lot of fun but also helps to build your own network.
Running 10 kilometers during lunch break on the tartan track
That said, you might find it confusing when I tell you that my first attempt to schedule a lunch date with a colleague failed. When I asked him if we could catch up over lunch at noon for the upcoming day, he just declined and answered: “No, sorry, I don’t have time.” When he added the reason right after though, it totally changed the situation: “I always run my 10k on the tartan track during that time. Would an hour later be fine? Or do you want to join me?”
That’s something I had not experienced before. Colleagues integrate sports in their everyday routine – whenever it works out best for them. A brand-new GYM, showers, locker rooms, everything is there. To find time for sports in-between emails, meetings and calls really helps to recharge and to re-focus on things.
In general, sport seems to unite the teams here and bring colleagues closer together in competition or workout sessions. Everything here is influenced by sports. The campus offers facilities for basketball, football, tennis and beach volleyball. There is even a climbing tower. Still a bit cold in winter though. I can’t wait for summertime to come and everybody will be doing sports together outside.
Play to win … the game goes on
Is adidas a top-down or bottom-up company? What makes it strong and motivates the people to work for and live the brand? I hesitate to provide an answer to all this because, don’t forget, I’ve been working here for just 30 days. There is so much to learn and so much to discover. I will certainly keep you updated.
Best of luck!
I am really interested in receiving my training in Adidas, because I find their work environment very encouraging. When looking for interns, what does Adidas truly look for?
Thank you very much for your help :)
As i found out from the next season Adidas will be Official Technical Supplier for premier league team FC Southampton.
Good news, but this club has similar red and white stripped kit as other Adidas sponsored teams:(Sunderland, Brentford, Sheff Unt.) and you have create something special for the club who fight for UEFA champions league place. Therefor i suggest for
the clubs second kit take from the clubs crest 3 blue wavy strips and let them run down the shoulders.Sometimes replacement of 3 iconic straight strips will give to company more and necessary diversity. Color for second kit may be white or yellow it
up to you. Finlay i have other original ideas too.
With regards. Zurab Chkhaidze (Adidas fun)
very nice to hear from you. The adidas Group in particular looks for people who are sports enthusiasts. In addition international experience and good English skills are a big plus. Good luck for you!
Great read, thoroughly enjoyed getting an insight into the company. Graduated this month with a BSc in Fashion Management with an added Diploma in Sport Science therefore planning to heavily focus on applying to Adidas. I'm also a fluent German speaker with 6+ years working in fashion retail. Is there anything you can think of that may give me the edge? Feeling deflated after several rejections :-(
thank you for reaching out to us. From my personal point of view and can only tell you that is is worth to keep fighting for your goals. International experience, language skills and a passion for sport are very important. Fingers are crossed that you find your dream job and that your next message ends with this smiley :) Check out our job offers at http://careers.adidas-group.com/. All the best, Florian
Perfect read for someone like me who will join the group 1 month from now on! Great insights those will help to hit-the-ground-running.
I am really excited and can't wait to join you on board. May be we could have a lunch or coffee, I will ping you if you are still there.
I am in the midst of adjusting to adidas, this helps alot.
Previously from IBM to adidas, its a huge culture shock, very very much.
Hope to see more articles by you with other topics as well - external from adidas too,