The University of Oregon Sports Product Management Program sets up its master’s degree students for long-term success by pairing each with an experienced professional in the sports and outdoor product industry.
One such example is the mentor-mentee relationship between Wilson Smith, a senior designer and Nike DNA design specialist, and SPM student Taylor Johnston, who is currently a product line management intern for lululemon’s innovation team, Whitespace.
Johnston graduated from the University of Oregon School of Architecture in 2016 with a degree in product design. He spent some time in California following his passion for entrepreneurship before returning to Oregon to join the SPM program where he hopes to develop a concrete understanding of the entire product life cycle to eventually create and launch his own business.
During Johnston’s first year in the program, he met Smith almost weekly for a coffee or a meal to catch up and share ideas and concepts. “The relationship leads to insights and benefits that will help me move forward in my career,” he said.
During his 34-year tenure at Nike, Smith has designed and developed product for some of the greatest athletes in Nike’s history including Michael Jordan, Serena Williams, Andre Agassi, and Roger Federer. He is a professor of product design at the University of Oregon and coteaches the SPM program's Intro to Product Design course. His passion around coaching, teaching, and giving back to the next generation is what truly defines Smith.
Smith has found that he benefits from the mentor program as well. “As a design professional, it is essential to stay close to new ways of thinking, which are often explored academically at UO SPM. Taylor is always great at challenging the way I perceive things and the focuses of our industry.”
“Being a mentor is a real pleasure when students have the experience and passion that the SPM students possess. My time with Taylor is a great example of this,” said Smith.
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