Writer: Sara Giboney
By SARA GIBONEY
KEARNEY – JoAn Scott wakes up each day and asks herself, “How do I be better today?”
The director of governing body relations for NIKE North America says working for a competitive and innovative company motivates her to be at her best.
“No two days are alike. Nike is an innovative company,” she said. “What I did last year is not what I’ll do next year. What I did last week is not what I’ll do next week.
“We’re marketing different products and different athletes, and we’re always challenged to make it better.”
Scott, a 1986 Kearney State College graduate and the 2013-14 Ron Landstrom Executive-in-Residence at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, didn’t always have the drive she has today.
“I was playing volleyball and I had a fiancé, and my goal was that I was going to graduate and I was going to get married,” said Scott, an Ansley native. “It was a different generation 27 years ago.”
But when her engagement ended, Scott was left wondering, “Now what do I do?”
Although she was unsure what her future held, Scott worked hard in and out of the classroom at KSC.
“I got a fantastic education here,” she said. “I learned. It was hard to check out here.”
The lessons Scott learned in the classroom were enhanced by her participation in other campus and community activities. Scott was a member of the volleyball team, worked for men’s basketball coach Jerry Hueser, was on the Student Alumni Board and completed an internship at Eaton Corp.
After struggling to find work after graduating from KSC, Hueser helped Scott land a job at USA Basketball.
“He was a respected coach. I will always be indebted to him for getting me started in the business,” she said.
Scott worked with USA Basketball, including four years as director of basketball operations. She was a member of the project team that coordinated the 1995-96 Women’s National Team and the 1992, 1994 and 1996 Dream Team training camps, exhibition games and international competitions.
She was also involved with the U.S. Olympic Festival, the Goodwill Games and events such as the World Championship of Basketball, Olympic Games, World Soccer Tour, Tiger Woods Japanese Invitational and Melbourne/Sydney Track Tour.
Scott said NIKE challenges her and every employee to make each product or event better.
“When you learn that as a culture, I think you wake up every day thinking, ‘How do I be better,’” she said.
Scott manages NIKE’s negotiations and relationships with the NCAA, National Federation of High Schools and Division I Conferences. She also manages Nike’s relationships with the U.S. Olympic Committee and select U.S. national governing bodies, along with Hockey Canada and Canadian National Hockey League Clubs.
“There’s so much innovation that I don’t feel like I’ve worked for the same company for 16 years,” she said. “NIKE is evolving, constantly evolving.”
The secret to her success, she said, is building relationships. “I treat everybody equally. Maybe that’s a Nebraska thing. I don’t care what your job is at NIKE, if you’re a janitor or whatever. I’ll have a conversation with anybody,” she said.
But Scott’s job at NIKE comes with some struggles.
“Working in a man’s world is the most challenging part of my job,” she said. “Sports is still male-dominated as far as decision making. Women haven’t infiltrated management positions yet.”
During a visit to UNK Sept. 19-20 as part of the Executive-in-Residence Program, Scott spoke to College of Business and Technology students about her career and lessons she’s learned.
“It brings it full circle. Where you go is a lot about where you came from,” she said. “What you believe in in your job has a lot to do with what you were taught.”
About Executive-in-Residence Program
According to Marsha Yeagley, UNK marketing and management information systems senior lecturer, the Ron Landstrom Executive-in-Residence program brings successful business executives to campus to talk with College of Business and Technology students about “best business practices,” as well as their personal career paths and lessons learned.
These executives engage students in several classes, make campus presentations on their area of expertise and participate in a session with the CBT Student Advisory Board and faculty. They also participate in a networking opportunity with members of the Business Advisory Board.