APU Study Away Prepared Alumna for Global Career at Nike

by Caitlin Gipson

Spotty phone reception, a nine-hour time difference, 10,000 miles, and two distinct cultures can thwart conversations between even the most seasoned international business professionals. Yet, when Lindsay (Frey ’10) Martinez, a Nike global portfolio manager coordinating the company’s charitable contributions around the world, speaks to international partners from her office in Beaverton, Oregon, she often makes instant, meaningful connections thanks to a slew of undergraduate study-away experiences through APU. “I was able to say to a South African colleague, ‘I’ve been to the Drakensberg mountains. I’ve walked among the lush, rolling hills, hiked to the remote waterfalls, and seen the ancient drawings on the cave walls. But more important, I’ve spent time with the people there,’” said Martinez. “This surprised and pleased him. These firsthand experiences added to my credibility in the discussion and allowed me to understand some of the issues he faced more deeply.”

Martinez’s role requires an international outlook. The Nike Global Community Impact Team focuses on helping kids around the world realize their full potential through the power of sport, beginning with Made to Play, Nike’s commitment to getting kids active through play and sport. “Today’s kids are moving less than past generations,” Martinez explained. “Our Community Impact Team partners with others to help change that by addressing barriers to participation, like underserved communities or locations where there isn’t a lot of sports programming.” While the local Nike representatives run the day-to-day management of community programs in their countries, Martinez’s team at Nike’s global headquarters in Oregon seeks to bring a global perspective to share best practices and assist local partners in designing effective programs. “We bring the best of both worlds—the global perspective and local experience—to create more positive and fun experiences for kids,” she said. “I help oversee Nike’s portfolio of grants, while working with my counterparts on the ground in Europe, South Africa, Japan, and China to ensure that our efforts add up to greater impact, and that we’re sharing best practices and learnings with each other.”

Martinez has found that each of her APU study-away experiences has contributed to her role at Nike. “My experiences visiting an English class at 10 on a Sunday night with APU business professors Barbara and Stuart Strother have helped me understand how much time is dedicated to education in China and how to think about the experiences of kids in the Active Schools program,” she said. “My visit to Nelson Mandela’s house in Soweto with the South Africa Semester gave context to a conversation with a South African colleague when describing the density that exists in the area. And my experience commuting and exploring during a summer internship in Tokyo helps me understand the realities that my coworkers sitting in our Tokyo office face.”

“I’m grateful that such enriching immersion experiences uniquely equipped me for this role,” Martinez said. “Everywhere I went during my travels, I saw a handful of internationally loved brands, including Nike.” As a result, Martinez is aware of the power of a global brand to have a positive impact. “A global organization can bring a unique perspective to big challenges and can work together with partners, local organizations, and communities to make a difference,” she said. “It’s great to have an opportunity to use our experience and resources to be a force for good in the world, and I feel privileged to be a part of doing this good work.”

Caitlin Gipson ’01 is a freelance writer and marketing consultant in California’ s central valley.

Originally published in the Summer '18 issue of APU Life. Download the PDF or view all issues.