Converse CEO Offers Advice to Sports MBA Students
Current Sports MBA student Helen He (SMBA '22) recently arranged a virtual visit from G. Scott Uzzell, CEO of Converse.
Before deciding to apply to graduate school, He built a relationship with Uzzell on LinkedIn, reaching out to him for an informational interview when she worked at a Converse retail location in Southern California. “I was working as a Brand Supervisor at a Converse retail store in San Clemente and trying to figure out a path into the corporate side of the apparel industry,” He said. “I decided to take a chance and reach out to the CEO because it’s important to take chances in life. You never know until you try.”
Scott Uzzell, Converse CEO, with Sports MBA students on Zoom.
Uzzell was instrumental in encouraging He to apply to graduate school at SDSU, citing the value of an MBA degree in career development in the competitive sports business industry. Uzzell, who holds an MBA degree from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, related to He’s career crossroads and encouraged her to pursue her education further.
In the recent conversation with the SDSU Sports MBA Class of 2022 on Zoom, Uzzell answered a number of questions about the future of Converse from the company’s headquarters in Boston.
Discussing his path to the CEO position, Uzzell told the students, “When I got out of school, I was focused on getting a job with a great career path, adequate pay, and interesting work. Everyone told me that I was good at math, so I should be an accountant or finance manager, but I liked finance but did not love it. I quickly learned you want a profession you love versus like. I began to seek opportunities that intersect my passion with my profession. It took me years to fully understand this, but it is critically important for your generation to find a healthy balance between passions and profession.”
This advice landed well with the Sports MBA students, who are all looking to establish careers pursuing their passion for sports with their post-graduate careers.
Uzzell also discussed how he is leading Converse into the future while navigating the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. “At Converse, we continue to put our employees first, then manage our marketplace, then figure out what parts of the business we pause and what parts we continue to invest in,” Uzzell said.
He asked Uzzell about Converse’s responsibility to emphasize diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) within the company. Uzzell responded that Converse has taken many steps to address social issues and does so on an ongoing basis. “Driving DE&I isn’t something that’s done by HR 4x per year. It is the everyday job of the CEO to set the example and lead the organization on this important subject. I always ask myself, is this an inclusive workforce? My thoughts and actions are both internal and external; how Converse can advance this critical strategy and important value. It is about representation and inclusion.”
Sports MBA’s Helen He noted, “I was inspired by the story of how Scott Uzzell rose to his position as CEO, but what impressed me most was the story of how he uses his position of authority to drive real, systematic change in the world. For me, this particularly includes marginalized people such as immigrants and women; we participate in institutions that were not made for us. Nevertheless, we belong, and we will thrive. I appreciate that Converse is helping contribute to that.”
Uzzell offered the cohort some final tips and advice that they’ll carry with them the rest of their time at SDSU. “Be curious as you enter your career journey but figure out your ‘why,’” Uzzell said, “because it helps your curiosity be more strategic. Some MBA students get in the ‘prevent defense’ mode, and they just want to make sure they don't fail. But you need to challenge yourself to grow. Fail a few times, be curious, and try new things.”
The Sports MBA Class of 2022, particularly Helen He (SMBA ’22), wishes to thank Scott Uzzell for taking the time to connect with the students and offer his insight to the class.