Just Do It
MBA alumnus relentlessly pursues his dream to work for Nike
by Conor Bentley (MEd. ’08)
photograph by Lucas Lawrence Creighton
Nike is oneof the biggest, most successful companies in the world, and it comes as
no surprise that jobs at Nike are highly sought after. This is especially true for
people wanting to work in product creation. Jimmy Black (MBA ’10) didn’t really know he wanted one of those coveted jobs or how he would even get one
when he began his MBA at Westminster in 2008. Jimmy’s family has Westminster ties.
His grandfather donated to build the Black Bridge in 1973, but despite the connection,
Jimmy was the only one of his siblings to attend the college. Upon enrolling at Westminster,
Jimmy wasn’t quite sure of the direction he wanted to take.
“Master Track was a life-changing experience,” Jimmy says of the mentoring program that he was a part of during his MBA. It was through his work with his mentor and Master Track cohort that he was able to figure out what he really loved and wanted to do with his professional life. He knew that his passions were college football and fashion, specifically at Nike.
Thanks to connections he made through Westminster and Master Track, Jimmy was invited to visit the Nike campus in Oregon by fellow Westminster alumnus Matt McMullen (’04). It became clear after this visit that Jimmy wanted his future to be with Nike. Once he honed in on his dream, he relentlessly pursued it. “My North Star was always college football,” says Jimmy, who emailed and called contacts he had made at Nike constantly so he would stay on their radar. One of his key contacts was another Westminster grad, Adam Welliver (’05), who told Jimmy that he needed direct experience in college football to even have a chance of working in that area.
So Jimmy took an unpaid position with the University of Utah football team in order to gain the valuable experience he needed to make himself an attractive candidate. His work with the Utes paid off, and Jimmy eventually left Salt Lake and moved to Oregon to work for Nike. That first job didn’t pay well, but it was a foot in the door, and from that job Jimmy was able to move into other roles that better suited his talents and goals. Through his dedication and hard work he eventually landed his dream job as a product line manager for college football sideline apparel, one of the toughest jobs to get at Nike.
That position put Jimmy in a very high-profile spot, one that helped him move into his current role on the Express Lane Team, a new group within Nike tasked with launching new apparel on a six-month cycle, as opposed to the usual two-year cycle. It is exciting and innovative work that puts Jimmy on the cutting edge of sportswear creation. Taking on this role meant a move to New York City with the love of his life, whom he also met at Nike.
By being willing to put himself out there, Jimmy inspired people by his passion, and they were eager to help him on his journey. “If you tell enough people what you want, they are willing to help you.” Much like the company he works for, Jimmy Black “Just Did It.”
About the Westminster Review
The Westminster Review is Westminster University’s bi-annual alumni magazine that is distributed to alumni and community members. Each issue aims to keep alumni updated on campus current events and highlights the accomplishments of current students, professors, and Westminster alum.