When considering fashion history, the sneaker easily ranks up there with the T-shirt and jeans in the category of stylish, comfortable cool. It only takes a look around any mall or glance around the subway to know that sneakers are big business—and consumers don't appear to be kicking that footwear trend anytime soon.
Similar to Nike’s “Swoosh," Adidas’ three stripes are up there with iconic logos like the Apple logo, McDonald's golden arches, and BMW’s blue and white checkered emblem. Created by Adidas founder, Adi Dassler, the trademark was first used on footwear in 1949.
Initially, these three stripes were meant to convey the diversity and international appeal of the brand by symbolizing the three major continents where Adidas products were sold: North America, Europe, and Asia. Backed by the legacy of sneaker designs like the Superstar, Stan Smith, and Samba, Adidas’ international appeal is more expansive than ever today, impacting not only sports and athletes, but also fashion, music, culture, sustainability, and technology.
A 70-year reign in the sportswear industry has also seen the company’s evolution from a family business into a multinational company with over 57,000 employees—and growing, especially as people are more likely to search for meaningful work with companies they believe in, and where they can do their best work every day.
The company notes on its website that, “the workplace for an employee is what the arena is to an athlete. It creates the perfect conditions for them to perform at their best." Of course, this means sports-obsessed perks like the soccer pitch, beach volleyball and tennis courts, track, and bouldering facility at Adidas’ global headquarters in Herzogenaurach, Germany.
Portland, Oregon is home to the brand’s North American headquarters and roughly 2,000 employees. Adidas’ core culture is noticeable here too, with on-site sports and fitness amenities and other perks like on-site daycare, management training programs, and employee-created mentoring groups encouraging diversity in management. Paid time off to volunteer and generous vacation time are just a few additional benefits.
By now it’s apparent that Adidas is a purpose-driven company that attracts and nurtures people who see business as an agent for positive change—and positive change is everywhere at Adidas, whether you're considering their commitment to removing barriers in sports for women and girls or their partnership with the Better Cotton Initiative, which aims to make global cotton production better for the people who produce it and the environment it grows in.
For anyone with a love for fashion, footwear, sports, or sustainability, working for Adidas would be a dream come true. So, how can you land a job with the company? We’ve got you covered on the degrees you’ll need to get noticed by its corporate hiring managers—and boost your chances of forging a creative and collaborative career.
Legend may have it that the Adidas is an anagram of the phrase "all day I dream about sports," but the athleticwear company gets its name from its Adolph "Adi" Dassler, a cobbler by training and avid sportsman who started the Germany-based Gebrüder Dassler OHG shoe company with his brother Rudolf in 1924. His first pair of athletic shoes would follow a year later.
Adi's unique designs first gained worldwide recognition in 1928 through the "Waitzer," the first “sprint shoe" worn by an Olympic athlete. But it wasn’t until American track and field athlete Jesse Owens won four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics while wearing Adidas footwear that Adi’s creations became inseparably linked to sports culture and history. Two years later, the company was producing 1,000 pairs of athletic shoes a day.
After brothers had a falling out in the wake of World War II, Rudolph founded what would later become Puma. With Adi fully at Adidas’ helm, the brand continued to expand and develop into new markets and sports while keeping a stronghold on his belief in superior products and industrialized craftsmanship.
Adidas grew steadily during the 1950s as professional soccer players around the world switched to the company’s light-weight cleats. From here, the company developed its first line of sporting goods, introducing soccer balls in 1963 and apparel four years later.
By the 1970s, Adidas was one of the top athletic shoe brands in the U.S. The decade saw Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier both wearing Adidas boxing shoes in their "Fight of the Century." A year later, the company was named the official supplier for the 1972 Munich Olympic Games.
Fast forward past an iconic endorsement deal with Run-DMC, new leadership, and partnerships with big-name designers like Yohji Yamamoto, Rick Owens, and Stella McCartney to arrive at the renowned sportswear brand we know today. According to Forbes, its market value is estimated at $52 billion.
Employees working at the company function within teams across a range of departments, including accounting and finance, customer service, legal, and research and development.
PayScale data indicates that Adidas employees in the U.S. typically make anywhere from $48,532 to $115,827 a year, with an average annual salary of $75,000.
__Some of the highest-paid jobs at Adidas include the following, listed by average base salary:__
Adidas’ careers site features hundreds of open positions in areas such as design, information technology, marketing and communications, and supply chain management.
Job seekers looking to join Adidas’ design ranks have many opportunities to consider, with current openings covering listings for an assistant 3D footwear designer, color and materials designer, surface designer, and a design director for the company’s line of Yeezy footwear.
Adidas’ color and materials designer role is the only position that calls out specific education requirements by noting that candidates with a bachelor’s degree in product, industrial, automotive, or interior design are a must.
In contrast, the department’s design director role notes a preference for a bachelor’s degree in design from a four-year college or an equivalent combination of education and experience.
In the IT realm, Adidas is searching for candidates to fill gaps where a variety of tech-focused experts are lacking. These positions include a senior solutions architect, a mobile development director, an omnichannel technology consultant, and a senior manager of SAP retail business solutions.
Education requirements for job seekers in this department are also pretty general.
Those pursuing work with the brand as a senior solutions architect and mobile development director will need a university degree in computer science or related studies, which likely spells opportunity for candidates who’ve studied at the undergraduate and graduate-level in their field.
Candidates aspiring to fill Adidas’ openings for an omnichannel technology consultant and a senior manager of SAP retail business solutions also face the same type of qualifications: A four-year degree with a focus on business administration, IT, or a related area, or an equivalent combination of education and experience.
Scroll through the current openings in the company’s marketing and communications department and you’ll find opportunities at all levels of professional experience. They include listings for an assistant product manager of originals apparel - graphics, a senior specialist of marketing operations, an account marketing manager, and marketing head.
For the most part, these jobs highlight a desire for candidates with a bachelor’s degree, and sometimes note a preference for study in marketing or business. While not required, a master’s degree in marketing or marketing analytics may be helpful for candidates seeking out management- and leadership-level opportunities in this area.
In the supply chain management domain, Adidas is hiring across a variety of roles in order book management analytics, inventory control analytics, outbound transportation analytics, and account logistics.
Once again, education requirements here typically focus on candidates with a generalized background in business, information systems, logistics, and operations. A master of business administration (MBA) or a master’s degree in supply chain management could also benefit candidates in this department.
Adidas’ internship program offers opportunities for students enrolled in full-time undergraduate and graduate programs to join teams at Adidas’ headquarters in Herzogenaurach and Portland, Reebok’s Boston headquarters, and at other Adidas locations around the world.
During the 12-week paid experience, Adidas’ interns gain insight into the sporting goods industry and valuable experience in teams spanning from design and eCommerce to human resources, product development, and sales.
Like any internship, applicants must certain standards to be considered for a position, including a minimum 3.0 GPA and at least six months of relevant work, extracurricular, or volunteer experience. Beyond that, it helps to have a solid grasp of the company’s history, the ability to work in a fast-paced, ever-changing work environment, and a strong interest in fashion or sports.
In a 2017 interview with ISPO, Steve Fogarty, Adidas’ former Senior Talent Director shares advice for professionals looking to forge a career with the iconic sportswear brand. From the outset, he lists creativity, confidence, and collaboration as key attributes that the next generation of Adidas’ talent will need to “propel our vision forward."
In contrast, ego and arrogance are big deal-breakers, especially as the company believes in service leadership, a concept in which those traditionally at the top of a business hierarchy show humility instead of brandishing authority, and look to enhance the development of their staff in ways that unlock potential, innovation, and sense of purpose.
Fogarty describes the approach as “breaking down barriers" and “supporting our employees’ development." He adds, “People who need hierarchies and always need someone to tell them what to do are not in the right place here."
And in interviews? “Tell us what you stand for," he says. “Be yourself, be honest, and see if it’s a match. That’s the best way to ensure you are headed in a direction where you will feel you made the best choice."
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