In the three years since he left the Lundquist College of Business, Matthew Van Wyen, MBA ’13, has risen quickly within the ranks of adidas. His time at the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center had a hand in that, he said, because of the experience he gained, the contacts he made, and the encouragement he received from faculty members.
Describe your current position and role.
I am currently a product and merchandising manager for adidas Baseball. For the U.S. market, I lead the product creation and go-to-market teams for baseball footwear. For my product creation duties, it is my job to gain key insights from our target consumer and use those insights to brief seasonal product ranges to our design and development teams. These product ranges must both hit consumer trends and achieve our seasonal financial targets from sales and margin perspectives. In addition to leading the product creation team, I also bring products to market by working with our sales, account marketing, and communications teams to create merchandising plans, sell-in key products, drive sell-through at each account, and generate hype through product storytelling.
Recently, I’ve also taken on product creation responsibilities for our Japanese baseball footwear range. Learning the consumer and market needs for this range has been a huge learning experience for me. I am truly lucky to have the opportunity to gain a new perspective on the footwear industry.
Lastly, I am a member of the adidas U.S. Marketing Talent Carousel program. As a member of this program, I rotate through different marketing functions at the company every 12 to 18 months in order to become a more balanced and experienced leader in the adidas company.
How has your Warsaw Center experience shaped your professional career?
The Warsaw Center was, and continues to be, vital in shaping my professional career. The connections I made during my two years in Eugene, combined with the business acumen I acquired through the MBA program, not only helped me get my foot in the door in my dream industry, but also continue to advance and add value in each role I’ve had at adidas. I’m a small-town guy and have always been a sneaker head with aspirations of working in the footwear industry. The tools and relationships I built at the Warsaw Center made those aspirations a reality. I will always be thankful to my professors, cohort, and center leadership for all they have done to prepare me for success. There are many Warsaw alumni (graduate and undergraduate) at adidas, and it has been rewarding to cross paths with them professionally. I am truly proud and humbled to be a part of the Warsaw Center family.
What key business trends are you following right now?
A lot of the trends I’m following right now revolve around the footwear and product industries. Franchise management is big for me right now. Articles about how companies keep product franchises fresh yet familiar, elongate product lifecycles, and build awareness for new technologies and innovations dominate my internet history right now. Additionally, from a footwear perspective, I’m very interested in the ever-evolving sneaker head culture: basketball footwear trends are slowing; athleisure is rising; Yeezy footwear has had an effect on the resale market; Stephen Curry helped UA diversify their footwear offering. All of these things are interesting for me to follow right now. Lastly, I’m continuing to keep tabs on trends for Generation Z in order to stay fresh and consumer-focused in my current role.
What is your favorite social media platform for personal use and what social media platform do you prefer for business purposes?
My favorite social medial platform for personal use is Instagram. My photos go through about three different apps before they get posted, so you could say I’ve fully bought into the platform (ha, ha). In the words of my classmate and friend Matt Maxson, MBA ’13: “Don’t be shy with the double-tap.” As for what is best for business use, I think that is fluid. Twitter is great as it allows you to build your tribe and interact more conversationally with your audience. Instagram is great for my product creation duties as it allows us to tell our product stories with premium photo and video content. Additionally, our consumers are much more likely to leave comments on our products on this platform. I learn a lot by reading through these comments. But I think figuring out the best ways to bring Snapchat and YouTube to life for our category will be increasingly important to continue communicating with our consumers where they are spending a lot of their time.
What do you miss most about Eugene?
I miss being consistently challenged by my professors to be the best business leader I can be. I miss the exposure and variety of experience the Warsaw Center provided during my two years in Eugene. I miss sharing a GTF office with Kimberly (and the hijinks she brought to that environment every day). And most importantly, I miss heading to Autzen on Saturdays with Matt, Gary, Ameer, Jay, Tyler, and the rest of my cohort to cheer on the best college football program in the land. In short, you could say my time in Eugene made me a better man. I wouldn’t change it for anything, and I hope that every current Warsaw student makes the most out of every experience, class, and friendship they make during their time in the program.