Andrea Perez is a Nike MVP if you will. This year she will be walking into her 16th year with the company having grown stronger, more dedicated to the brand, and more aware of her own skillsets with every year that passed.
Now, as Nike’s Vice President and General Manager of Global Brand Jordan for women and kids, Perez wants other Latinas to step into their power and into big dreams of their own.
“My advice for Latinas when connecting with others is to be very proud of who you are and what you represent and bring that to the table when establishing relationships,” shares Perez. “Also bring people up with you — for some of us it was a difficult ride to get to where we are at now, so let’s make sure to pave the road and invite others in.”
Perez’s love of sports dates back to her time as a varsity soccer and softball player and only grew into a commitment to a brand that championed all she believed sports and advertising should be.
“As a female athlete growing up in Mexico, I never felt as respected as the male athletes,” shares Perez. “However, in 1998, one company was completely changing the game – Nike. Nike was truly speaking to girls like me, through Mia Hamm and the 99’ers, through Jackie Joyner Kersee and launching numerous campaigns that I really connected with. I was only in high school, but I knew then that I wanted to work for a place like that and began creating Nike ads in my notebooks. It truly was the only place I ever wanted to work.”
Her time at Nike has afforded her the opportunity to mentor others who may want to walk on the same path. Every week Perez sets aside three hours of her time and dedicates it to meeting with those who want her advice on any aspect of their careers.
“I advise my mentees to come to meetings with something to talk about,” states Perez. “A lot of people want to establish relationships and the first thing they ask you is ‘tell me your story.’ I find that that question can be less valuable than coming with a specific question on how to help oneself. I start my meetings asking people a little bit about their background followed by ‘how can I help you?’. The sharper they are in their answer and their ask, the better the answer and insight they can receive from me.”
Below Perez shares more advice she gives to Latinas, what she’s learned through her 3-hours a week mentorship sessions, and why a career at Nike has been as dynamic as it’s been long.
Vivian Nunez: How have you fostered such a long career at the same company?
Andrea Perez: Two reasons: Nike’s brand values and the ability to have a diverse career within one company. Regarding Nike’s values, I truly believe that life is better with sport. Not just the health benefits, but everything it brings to people’s lives, especially young women. To be in a place where I come to work every day and I feel like I’m contributing to that belief, it’s massive for me. Second, the ability to have a very diverse career. Nike is a really big company. There are three different brands within Nike Inc.: Nike, Jordan and Converse. Nike also has a variety of different functional areas from innovation, to marketing, to our Community Impact group, to Air manufacturing, to Valiant Labs. And offices all over the world. You truly can have an amazingly diverse career.
Nunez: You worked your way up at Nike and now serve as the Global GM of Jordan Women and Kid’s — what has been your biggest lesson learned through that journey?
Perez: When I was working in Nike Mexico, our GM – a man named Cristian Corsi, had a sign in his office that said: “the desk is the worst place from where to see the world”. I truly think that’s the best lesson anyone gave me. To be open to what’s happening outside your desk – with your team, with the other teams, with the organization, with the industry, with the consumer, with the world- is what truly makes you expand your mind and see opportunities. Personally, I think it also makes us better humans.
Nunez: What motivated you to set aside three hours of your time every week for mentorship?
Perez: A lot of people have helped me out in journey at Nike. I had people that took their time to teach me, to give me projects, to support me, even to read my business school applications. I truly owe those people and feel I can do that by helping others out and paying it forward. Conducting mentorship meetings at determined hours of the week helps me keep control of my caledar and be centered before meeting people so that I can focus on the person I am speaking with and not veer off from the conversation or think about my to do list.
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