To succeed in the global luxury sneaker business, it pays to stay one step ahead of the competition.
For Ailed Ruiz, a master’s degree in international business was enough to get a foot in the door five years ago at adidas—but shifting from merchandising and e-commerce to digital for Hype, referring to the company’s exclusive fashion collaborations, was a bigger challenge. That is, until she found Emeritus.
A Pivot Hastened by COVID
Ruiz, who has a background in merchandising and global sales, has spent most of her time managing the e-commerce site of Y-3, a brand partnership between adidas and the Japanese fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto. Being responsible for the brand’s e-commerce platform solidified her interest in the digital space.
However, when Y-3’s online sales were brought under the adidas platform, Ruiz’s role shifted to focus on the in-store experience. And when COVID-19 shuttered stores around the world in early 2020, she found herself with a lot more time on her hands—and a strong desire to make a long-term pivot to digital.
“Aside from having daily conversations with different stakeholders, I suddenly had very little to do because almost all stores were shut down worldwide due to COVID-19. I was worried about my legacy and career,” Ruiz says. “I knew I wanted to stay at adidas, and that I really wanted to get an opportunity in the digital department, which is massively growing.”
Hands-On Campaign Experience
Though Ruiz considered other digital marketing programs, the Emeritus program “seemed the most complete,” she says, thanks to its comprehensive curriculum covering digital marketing pathways ranging from mobile ads to omnichannel campaigns.
During lockdown in Germany, Ruiz threw herself into the three-month online course, learning how to develop customer personas, draw out customer journeys, and use targeted keywords in a marketing strategy, among many other things.
“We had daily or weekly topics, with certain tasks we were asked to do,” she says, “but we also ran simulated campaigns throughout the whole course. I ‘owned’ a fake product—a camera—and learned to make a digital campaign.”
Alongside classmates from around the world, Ruiz learned to set up and measure campaign KPIs and to adjust elements based on the response of “virtual” consumers. Thanks to industry partnerships, program participants also worked closely with agency owners who gave them an inside look at real, ongoing campaigns. At a moment of limited human connection, Ruiz particularly valued the opportunity to build relationships with other professionals, several of whom she remains in touch with today.
Turning New Skills into a New Role
With the digital certificate of completion (and increased confidence) in hand, Ruiz was ready to advocate for herself in a new way.
Just two months after the course ended, Ruiz approached a mentor at adidas about taking on a short-term assignment on the digital team. Digital was exponentially growing while physical stores were closed, and the company needed more resources in that area.
“Having the knowledge from the course helped me to sell myself and turn uncertain times into a great career opportunity,” she explains.
The short-term project was a success, and Ruiz officially accepted a promotion to Global Senior Manager of Digital Operations for Hype this past July. In her new role, Ruiz will serve as a bridge between adidas groups in the U.S., Canada, and Latin America, and will have opportunities to collaborate with different adidas partners for its luxury business.
“It’s a big step up for me in terms of stakeholder management, responsibilities, and trust from the company,” Ruiz says, noting that this opportunity is “a move from a much smaller business to a much larger business.”
A Winning Equation
This career change is a victory for Ruiz—but also for adidas. For companies, the cost-benefit of upskilling and promoting internal talent is clear:
Cost-benefit = (increase in productivity + avoided hiring and severance cost) – (cost of reskilling + lost productivity while reskilling).
And as Ruiz continues to grow her career at adidas, that equation is sure to prove favorable to both parties.
Interested in upskilling and reskilling your employees? Reach out to the Emeritus Enterprise Team to learn more about how we can tailor courses from top universities for your industry, company, and team.
By Rachel Hastings