Headshot Karen Parkin
On December 3, 2014, the Argyros School of Business and Economics and The W Club hosted a Distinguished Speaker Series featuring keynote speaker Karen Parkin, CHRO of Adidas Global.

Karen Parkin was recently
Chief HR Officer on November 1, 2014. Prior to her new role, she was responsible for the Global Supply Chain function within the adidas Group. Her presentation discussed
how to answer a personal question with a unique proposition: Can You Have It All?


“You can have it all. Just not all at once.”
– Oprah

About adidas Group

Karen Parkin’s presentation began with a brief introduction about the adidas Group history. Adidas AG is a German multinational corporation within the sporting goods industry, currently worth an estimated $15.5 billion euros in sales growth. Headquartered in Herzogenaurach, Germany, the company is in 74 countries and national cities. Adidas provides wholesale and retail goods from its holding companies which consist of Reebok, TaylorMade, Rockport and many other brands. Adidas Group currently employs about 53,000 people. Of those 53,000 employees, half support the retail businesses adidas operates.
Each year, adidas Group receives about 300,000 job applications.

Gender Diversity at adidas Group

Karen Parkin’s presentation focused on how women rise to
C-level positions. Currently, adidas Group has an even ratio of female to male employees. As of today, only about 28% of senior positions at adidas Group are held by women. Karen discussed goals to improve these conditions including the company’s plans to improve this percentage to 34% by 2015.

As the first woman to be appointed to a C-level position within adidas Group, she embraces diversity. While gender differences are less apparent in schools, the gender gap are very different in the workplace and we must learn to challenge leaders to address it.

So… Can You Have It All?

Karen Parkin challenged the audience to think critically about what is our own personal definition of “all.” She stated, “No one can say you have it all or don’t have it all. All is a balance and mix of what you have.” First, we must look for clarity and authenticity in what our own expectations are.

As an example, Karen discussed the dimensions of having a family, handling a career, and maintaining a social life. As professionals, we are faced with dilemmas that may lead to sacrifices and decisions that affect our lives. However, Karen clarified that sometimes the sacrifices we make formulate our leadership capabilities.

In order to grow to the next level of a career, Karen stated that we must manage expectations and be patient on time spent building experiences. We must focus on social good and how companies are making the world a better place. Lastly, she emphasized the importance of continuous learning.

Advice from Karen Parkin to Launch Your Career

  • Believe – Understand and respect the environment you’re in
  • Be You – Spend time getting to know yourself
  • Be Patient – Success takes time and consists of overcoming challenges and new environments
  • Be Realistic – Dreams sometimes exceed reality which will bring bitterness
  • Contribute – Take ownership of your responsibility to a company as a whole
  • Have Fun – Having a positive attitude makes you a better person
  • It’s Ok to Fail – Failure triggers the opportune moment to make things right
  • Learn, learn, learn – Strive to learn something new everyday

Images by adidas Group