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Building the employer brand of dreams with Nike HR Director

Behind the Swoosh: How Nike's HR Director Builds a Culture of Inclusivity and Belonging"

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Nike is one of the world's leading brands, known for their cutting-edge design and innovation in athletic wear. But the company's focus on design and branding doesn't stop with their products - it extends to their HR practices as well. Ask Grant Baker, HR Director at Nike, what he likes about working in HR and he says “the people.” While he quickly admits this is perhaps not the most illuminating answer, it does reveal his passion for championing the workforce.


“What is really going to make or break an organisation? It's the people and how they perform. HR is such a huge influencer in ensuring that leaders give their people the best opportunity to perform,” says Grant. “You're at the pointy end of influencing the most important part of any organisation, it’s workforce.”


While Grant initially stumbled into HR after working in contact centre and operational roles, he quickly realised he’d found the right path. Over his career, he's explored the full gamut of HR roles and beyond to build the skills necessary to land a role in his “sweet spot” at Nike.


Building your HR brand requires thoughtful planning and self-awareness. Grant credits his successful career path to intentionally stretching himself across different facets of HR and making deliberate moves out of HR as well.


“I've tried to stretch myself across different facets of HR and I've made some deliberate moves out of HR as well,” he says. “I think it’s good to get yourself on the other side of the fence, and I think that's really helped me as an HR practitioner.”


Through taking roles in shared services, change, specialist, operational roles outside of HR and leading larger teams, Grant has built his own understanding of the challenges of leadership, something that HR practitioners often don’t get the chance to do until they’re in much more senior roles. It's important to build specialised knowledge in HR, but it's also critical to have a generalist understanding of the business. Grant believes this is necessary to add value to the team outside of HR and to build the confidence of his peers.


Nike's success is built on innovation and a culture that challenges their employees to be their best. HR plays a critical role in developing that culture and ensuring that Nike can continue to attract and retain the best talent.


“We all know this in HR: no one's going to manage your career for you. It's not my job to manage anyone's career in this business, you manage your own career,” says Grant. “For me, it would have been very easy not to look at LinkedIn that week, and I probably would never have known about this role, but the rest is history.”


The key to building a successful HR career is to be thoughtful, intentional and willing to stretch yourself. Surround yourself with good people, think about your next role, but nail your current role first. Most importantly, stoke the fire in your belly and be willing to take risks and push yourself out of your comfort zone.


With Nike's focus on design, branding and innovation, it's no surprise that they approach their HR practices with the same level of creativity and intentionality. By building an HR brand that is authentic, transparent and people-centric, Nike is creating an employer brand of dreams. And with leaders like Grant at the helm, it's clear that the company's commitment to its workforce is unwavering.


Article Details

  Feature with:           Nike

Grant Baker, HR Director

Written by Team Hyer

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