Like many of Jordan Brand’s most loyal consumers, Craig Williams, who assumed the president role in January 2019, vividly remembers lacing up his first pair of NBA icon Michael Jordan’s signature shoes at the age of 17: a white Air Jordan 1, which he beat up on a basketball court not long after opening the box.
And like his customers, he’s equally passionate about sports, community and culture, as Footwear News reports in an exclusive interview. On the photo shoot with FN last month, he was quick to debate the best NBA players and greatest rappers of all time.
When the opportunity came about to lead the iconic label, he didn’t hesitate. And more than three years later, he has the same level of passion.
“I don’t feel pressure. It’s excitement. I feel a great sense of responsibility. When I eventually pass the company off, I want it to be healthy and vibrant and have so much runway in the future,” said Williams, who previously spent nearly 14 years as a top exec at The Coca-Cola Company.
That commitment is driving results. Jordan Brand reported sales for fiscal 2021 hit a new record of $4.7 billion, up from $3.6 billion in the previous fiscal year.
For those who know Williams best, the president role is a natural fit. Jillian Tirath, the VP of consumer science and insights at Jordan Brand, worked closely with him at Coca-Cola and has seen Williams blossom as a person.
“He has a huge amount of empathy,” Tirath said. “He is focused on the business, but there is a human element to him that during the course of my career, I have found to be super helpful. Craig first sees the person and then he sees the employee.” She continued, “At Jordan Brand, he’s in his element. It’s just great energy to be around. I can’t speak for him, but as an observation, he’s working on a brand that aligns with his interests, and he’s making a real difference.”
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SOURCE: Sportico, Peter Verry