My heart soared as I stood at the top of the mightiest mountain in Africa at 5,895 meters above sea level. I was physically exhausted from conquering the highest free-standing mountain in the world, yet I felt a boundless energy from the earth, the sky and my connection with 18 elected women from my Global MBA program at Erasmus University in Rotterdam.

Woman standing on top of Kilimanjaro mountain holding a sign, Samantha Jacobs, adidas, employee, Senior Manager
Making it to the top of Kilimanjaro was an eye opener to the importance of effective teams to achieve something great.

On top of Kilimanjaro, a cruel and majestic mountain, I now understood the African proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together.”

Getting to the top was far from a walk in the park. Both the team and the untamed environment were unfamiliar to me. I was surrounded by glaciers and the juxtaposition of Africa’s beautiful challenges. The superficiality of life slipped away as if in a dream, but the demands of the mountain were great and real.

On summit night I had an excruciating headache, the worst I have ever experienced. On summit day I could not feel my body and it was challenging to stay mentally strong and positive.

Experience and guidance are invaluable in any effective team

That’s when I recognized the value of the team around me. Our summit guide was Rebecca Stephens, the first British woman to climb the seven highest summits in the world. She taught us how mountain conditions can be managed, how it is necessary to be prepared and how to adapt to the conditions of our ever-evolving group and the mountain dynamics.

When I reflect on that climb now and on the lessons I learned playing tennis with my dad and later alongside my long-time childhood friend it’s clear that having a strong support team makes us all winners.

Woman hitting a tennis ball on a tennis court, sport, sports, adidas, employee, Samantha Jacobs
Success requires teamwork and I first learned this at an early age hitting tennis balls with my dad. He had unlimited patience and I had unbounded enthusiasm. We were an unstoppable team.
Woman wearing tennis whites holding a tennis racket during a doubles game, sports, sport, tennis, players
Fast forward to doubles tennis and our game was like a synchronized dance with every point accented by us coming together for a quick reassuring racket bump. Individually we were good but together we were New York State Champions. ©Getty Images
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Make sure your foundations are strong

Today I’m a member of the digital technology team at adidas where the success of one employee is the success of all.

This starts with the stability to be progressive knowing that reaching the highest heights starts with the strongest foundation.

A building constructed on vision alone may rise quickly but can topple easily. A company with a strong platform like a building will be tall, strong and stable, today and always. adidas is a company built for today and ready for tomorrow thanks to its strong foundations and the effective teams that have developed throughout its 70+ year history.

It has deep roots in sports and fashion and thrives by blending a well-established business acumen with the ability to adapt to our ever-changing digital medium.

Man and woman walking on a tenn
Effective teams need to be coordinated and know the others’ play to capitalize on their skills and talents. ©PeopleImages

I see our Digital technology group like a great doubles team, as well as like a collection of expert climbers coordinated, synergistic and ready to summit the challenges ahead with vision, sustainability, and inclusion.

Effective teams are always evolving

Our new 5-year strategy “Own the Game” recognizes our strategic shift in technology, “from being a service provider to being a core competency and value driver.” Our Digital culture is based on business and technology partnership, expertise, and innovation to maximize value for consumers’ experiences that are built sustainably to balance sales and technical objectives. Our product-led framework enables agile software development and flexibility to seamlessly adapt our delivery to unforeseen obstacles.

Alongside our clear business goals our culture is optimistic, and I’m surrounded by peers who believe in themselves and each other. We are encouraged to share our ideas and together our support teams grow stronger.

Men and women working at a table on laptops while discussing ideas, adidas, employees, workplace, culture, headquarters
Having a culture where we feel safe to share our ideas and supported to act on them is essential to build effective teams.

It’s so important to feel valued and respected for who you are and have confidence in your company and team’s values.

So, what’s next as I continue to build my career and help adidas to be the best sports and digitally savvy brand in the world? I feel our team is never complete. There’s always another skill, character, and diversity of thought that can be of benefit to our team as we drive to deliver innovative products and experiences for our athletes and consumers.

If you’re interested in joining us, click on the adidas Careers page below to find out more about the open roles and how you can support us to reach the next summit!


Through sport, we have the power to change lives.



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by Barry Byrne 11.09.2021
Great article Sam! B
by Juliane 14.09.2021
Lots of lessons on people and nature lying around on Mt Kili! Thanks for sharing, Samantha!