How KeJuan Wilkins went from self-doubt in his athletic dream to becoming a boss at Nike  

Stephen Nartey July 17, 2023
KeJuan Wilkins/Photo credit: KeJuan Wilkins via LinkedIn

KeJuan Wilkins was early this year appointed to the position of Nike’s Executive Vice President, Chief Communications Officer. In this role, he oversees the global corporate, consumer, and employee communications for Nike, Inc. Growing up in Flint where there were many sports idols, he looked up to many, from Glen Rice who played Michigan’s basketball to Carl Banks who played in the NFL for the New York Giants. But, he self-doubted whether he possessed the right skill or was cut for the big leagues when he began his journey to become a professional athlete.

When he felt it was a long shot away, he decided to pursue a career in sports management. It was a field that ensured he will get a job and still stay connected to his passion. When he came across an ad in the Michigan Daily, he knew a window of opportunity had beckoned. He gave it a try and ended up becoming a leader among students in the Sports Information Department. He later got an internship with Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and then the Lions, and moved to the Pistons during the lockout season of 1999, according to the University of Michigan.  

When he was about to graduate, Wilkins received a call from the head of PR for the Knicks, enquiring whether he was interested in a job opening there. He worked in the PR department for five years and when he gained experience, he had another opportunity from Reebok where he worked for two years. At Reebok, he had a life-changing experience of working directly with consumers and its products and he began appreciating the full force of communications on business from the national and global perspective. Even though his self-doubt re-emerged again due to the pacey and diverse work culture at Reebok, it prepared him for his role at NIKE, which had become the world’s leading designer, marketer, and distributor of various sports apparel, footwear, equipment, and accessories, according to Footwear News.

Wilkins earlier began his job as lead communications for Nike’s North America and geography and the Jordan brand. His role enabled him to measure the direct impact of communication across Nike, Jordan, and Converse on a daily basis. For him, the value of communication is only evident when one operates in a space where there is dynamism, interactivity, and multi-directional asset that improves performance at all levels, according to Provoke Media. His role at Nike also allowed him to drive change and push for diversity as well as inclusiveness in the corporate setting of the organization.

One of the proud achievements of Wilkins is his work with premier athletes like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Serena Williams on Nike’s partnership with Michigan. He also worked with the athletes on the Jordan brand project, an event he reflects on with enough satisfaction. The use of iconic sports personalities has always been part of Nike’s marketing strategy of building a deeper connection with its audience. In the past, Nike has worked with the likes of Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods and has also been at the forefront of equality in sports; classical examples were their campaigns in the U.S. Women’s National Team taking home gold at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, according to retail dive.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: July 17, 2023


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