Business As Usual

Play to win

- Ariel Fermin, Country Director, Nike Philippines -

I am Ariel, Nike Philippines’ country director. My view from the top is very much like the view from the sidelines of a basketball court since I’ve always dreamt of becoming a coach anyway. Or it could be a view from the backcourt, since point guards eventually make the best coaches.

The world has become increasingly complex, and sports always gives a refreshing and pure point of view. The values learned from games hold through the changing landscape of our society. The game of basketball has changed a lot with “small forwards” at 6 feet 8 inches, and players’ contracts at around the same size as a small country’s economy. But the values of the game have not lost relevance. I believe it applies to the whole passage through life.

There is a lot of happiness in the court. When practicing alone, kids confess to imagining the wider world of basketball – maybe imitate a spectacular move that Kobe did. The peace of solitary practice is matched by the joy of playing team ball. The perspective of team play is infinitely interesting to me. Imagine being in a team where everyone is passionate about winning. Nothing compares to a championship — when a team’s game comes together, and everyone moves as one.

Not a lot of people are given the opportunity to lead a company and a brand that they really love. I am blessed to be given that part. It is pure joy, and it does come with a lot of hard work. Nike already stands in a virtually unchallenged position; but we continue to play to win, and win big. In Nike, only a decisive, conclusive win matters. It makes us work harder for the next win. Shortly after our latest celebration, we work on bigger things that will propel us on higher ground in brand and business terms. There is no finish line.

The brand is enjoying its highest consumer ratings, as we relentlessly make the brand more relevant to our consumers. As long as we have an opportunity to serve the athlete, and be dominant in a category, we will seize that opportunity.

The values that keep us committed to winning are passion, hardwork, selflessness, competitiveness, and leadership.

Passion for sports starts with a child’s interest. I’m not sure when my interest turned to passion, but I was very young, and it has never diminished. Hardwork requires discipline. If you’re not practicing — somewhere, someone is practicing, and when you two meet, given roughly equal ability, he will win. Selflessness is one of the more difficult values to embrace. You see a lot of kids wanting to shoot; but not many want to pass. In an unselfish team, the passer knows that the ball will come back. Competitiveness brings out an overwhelming emotion far more than pride. It deepens the commitment among team members to give each other the “help defense” when someone needs it. Diving for loose balls is special. It shows tenacity, and it delivers championships. My guys in Nike get it, and my job is to provide the leadership. As a coach, the key leadership function is to get my players to commit to something bigger than themselves. Play to win, and win big.

With God’s blessing, I hope to see my son Inigo play a sport that he will truly love. I am confident that he will carry with him these timeless values in and out of the playing field. Putting kids in sports plays an important role in molding them to be better persons. I encourage other parents to Just Do It.







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