Called “a nine-year sensation” by co-founder Phil Knight, NIKE, Inc.’s CEO, has been selected to top the list of Fortune’s annual ranking of corporate “chieftans.” As a long-time runner, Parker was recruited by NIKE right out of college in 1979 to design running shoes.
Before becoming CEO, Parker headed global footwear, then became co-president of the Nike brand. During his time as CEO, he’s overseen a doubling of sales and “now faces the trickier task of finding growth in a wildly successful mature company,” writes Mark Lashinsky in the Fortune profile titled “Nike’s Master Craftsman.”
Each year Fortune selects 50 CEOs on the basis of “concrete results.”
According to the article, “Nike today is the world leader across multiple athletic-shoe categories, notably running, basketball, and soccer. Its share of the U.S. athletic shoe market is 62%, according to reports earlier this year.”
In the interview, CEO Parker described the business by saying, “We’re in 190-ish countries around the world, 13 sport categories. When you add it all up, we’re really talking billions of product units. It’s a big, fast-paced, complex business to run. So you have to always keep boiling it down to what’s really most important in terms of really moving this business forward, but with the consumer ultimately in mind first and foremost. “
As Nike’s boss, Parker is relentlessly inquisitive. “Mark’s questions are often either leading or directive,” says Andy Campion, Nike’s chief financial officer and a former Disney executive. “What’s fascinating about his use of questions is that it leaves other leaders empowered to find the answers themselves and act on them.”