I want to share the key moments in my career that led me taking on my current position as Vice President of Retail in Latin America. What does it take to go from London and Herzogenaurach to Panama in the space of just a couple of years?

I joined the adidas Group in May 2012, as Head of Retail Operations for CIS, Emerging Markets, Spanish Latin America and Brazil, within the CoE Retail.  This was a great launch pad in understanding how our organisation works, our strategic goals and the small part I played in supporting that vision.

Rob has worked in the UK, Europe, Middle East… and now Latin America

If I were to look back at the positions that laid a foundation for the growth of my career, I would say two in particular stand out. The first was running a flagship retail store in Central London which really opened my eyes to new challenges; and a pace and expectation to deliver flawlessly at all times.  The second was probably my first multi-site role as Retail Operations Manager for the West End and City of London.  To go from directly to remotely managing several stores, including some located along the busiest shopping street in the UK was a massive challenge, requiring a real focus on personal organization, leadership, and communication skills.

Taking ownership

I have been fortunate to work for large retail and franchise companies in a number of different roles and in different countries.  It is essential to first orientate yourself, understand the business and what is important.

“Listen, learn, and ask questions to increasingly develop your own point of view and aligned strategy.” Rob Clements, Vice President of Retail in Latin America

Even with bosses that are supportive and people focused, it is an individual responsibility to seek constant improvement, in yourself and in others around you. Development comes in many different forms, sometimes structured and formal, and others, via quiet reflection. In my case, I try to reflect on things that make me personally strong and happy, and how I can either do them more often or even better next time.

Encourage anyone within the Group to take full advantage of the international career opportunities that exist

Moving to Panama

Agreeing to move from Herzogenaurach to Panama, without talking to my wife first! Joking apart, probably my first international move was the hardest and boldest decision I have ever had to make in my career:  Moving from the familiarity of family, friends and work in the UK to Kuwait.  Looking back, I loved my time in the Middle East, and it taught me a great deal about myself, life and business away from home.  The biggest learning I took though from this was, “why hadn´t I done this sooner!”

I have worked in the UK, Europe, Middle East… and now Latin America: Different regions with different customers, languages, and ways of doing things.  Not better, not worse, just different.

“Living in new countries opens your mind to new ways of living, new people and new things; and helps you question your assumptions of what normal life is.”                    Rob Clements, Vice President of Retail in Latin America

Whilst working in different places, I have been able to leverage past and present relationships and experiences to create new opportunities or ratify ideas that help drive our business.  These external perspectives have been intrinsic to my career success to date.

My inspiration

I personally take a lot of inspiration from my wife and children who support me and my career wherever it takes me.  My children in particular just take life in their stride.  They are not limited by fear or what has happened in the past.  They just go with it.  I would personally encourage anyone within the Group to take full advantage of the opportunities that exist.  Have a plan, know your strengths and be true to them.  If you see an opportunity, then go for it!  You only regret the things in life that you do not do.

So, handing it over to you. What was your boldest career move so far? What made you stronger and helped you to develop?


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by Akram 16.03.2015
Thanks Rob for sharing your experience. It's always a pleasure to hear from people such as you and a great way to learn for students like me. I agree with you that living in a new country opens your mind to new possibilities. It's like life throws a challenge at you everyday to see how you respond and learn from it. I think the boldest career move for me was to leave my job and pursue my MBA oversees. I am still in my first year but the thing the keeps me going the most is the desire to prove that I belong.
by Yahaira Chue 07.05.2015
Robert, welcome to Panama! I really liked your comment about beign thruth to yourself, reflect on what makes you strong and happy. As I am going through a career transition, it makes me feel good about the new opportunities that laid ahead. Sports is one of the things that brings joy to my life so a job opportunity in this area is something that I look forward to.

by Jeremy Crawford 02.04.2017

Thank you for sharing a tremendous story of courage and sacrifice. Moving into an environment that is unfamiliar sounds very hard to do.

With me not having kids or a spouse, I look forward to expanding my mind and growing in a new country.
I am currently a Business student at Oklahoma City Community College in the United States. After I graduate in 2018, I want to intern in another country or possibly find a career in a company like Adidas, before I continue my studies in Marketing at Portland State University.

Thank you for sharing your story with the world and may it be encouraging for people whose considering making a big move in their lives, like it has empowered me.

- Jeremy Crawford
(405) 982 0021
Nina Weihrauch
Nina Weihrauch | Editor Jeremy Crawford 05.04.2017
Hi Jeremy,

thanks for your comment. I really like the way you own your career path.

Keep on rocking and definitely check out careers.adidas-group.com (more info on becoming an intern at adidas here: https://www.gameplan-a.com/2015/10/how-to-become-an-intern-at-the-adidas-group/.