Good Question: The best questions to ask in a sport job interview

In every interview in the sports industry there is a moment when you have the opportunity to ask questions yourself. Although this may seem like a potential hurdle, another checkpoint, this point in the interview is a good chance for you to clarify any doubts you may have about the job or employer, or to set yourself apart from the competition. So see this question as an opportunity.

In this blog we explain which questions are useful and how to prepare for the most famous question of all interviews: "Do you have any questions?".

Classic questions for the sports job interview: About the job

Questions that work for any job and are actually useful for you to clarify in advance are questions about the role itself. These include:

  • Why is the job vacant?
  • How is the team set up?
  • What criteria do you use to measure the success of an employee in the team?
  • What are the biggest challenges for someone in this position?
  • What do you like most about working at the company?
  • Which people would you work with most and why?

Engaging questions for the job interview: On skills and qualities

There are also questions that show that you are thinking about how you can contribute to the company. These not only clarify for you any details of the job, but also show the recruiter that you are committed:

  • What are the biggest challenges you/your team are currently facing and how could I help overcome them in the next 6 months?
  • What qualities of the previous employee did you particularly value in this role and would you like to retain?
  • What are the key skills and qualities you should have for the job?
  • In your experience, what is the biggest challenge for new employees and what is your advice for handling it?

Evaluative questions: What do you expect from the job?

As already mentioned, the interview questionnaire is not only a tool to assess you, but also to give you an insight into the job and whether it meets your expectations. In the end, every interview is also a test for you to see if the company matches your values and expectations. Here it is important that you make clear to yourself in advance what your employer should bring with them so that you feel comfortable working with them, what motivates you in the job and what kind of culture you would like to work in.

These include questions on

  • Working environment (open-plan office? Individual office? Personal workstations?)
  • Working hours and locations (what is the company's position on remote arrangements, what are the core working hours)
  • Everyday work (what is the division between operational and strategic work content, is there project-related work, what does a classic working day in this position look like)
  • Further development and promotion opportunities (What further training measures does the company offer? What career opportunities are there within the company that could result from this position? )
  • Work culture (What are the values of the team? What has the company done for its employees during COVID-19 to improve their daily work and personal lives? How has this changed the work culture in the company?)

Individual interview questions for your future employer

While the previous questions work for most sports jobs, it's the individual questions that set you apart from other candidates in the job interview. After all, you are certainly not the only candidate who has previously searched for possible questions in a search engine and possibly made a similar selection as you. 

The best thing you can do is research your potential future employer. On the one hand, you have questions that deviate from the standard repertoire, on the other hand, you show your interview partner deeper interest. In the best case, you will also find other points that make the job even more attractive to you, or on the other hand, you will find out things that are perhaps a no-go for you. You can only gain from extensive research.

In addition, HR managers like to ask applicants what they know about the company, so this is in itself part of any preparation for a job interview. 

"When I read about [x], I asked myself the following ..."

Normally, you can find out about the corporate culture, values and current projects on the company website. Alternatively, it is also worth taking a look at the news via Google or concrete platforms such as Sporting Goods Intelligence Europe. Questions that pop into your head while reading the articles can be useful questions in the interview - especially if they are in some way related to the position you are applying for.


Two examples:

  • General: "How do you support the personal development of your employees? "
  • Specifically: "On your website you mention that you provide on-demand training for your employees. In relation to the advertised role, what specific opportunities do you offer in the area? " 
  • General: "How do you advocate for a sustainable business model? "
  • Specifically: "A few weeks ago I came across an article in which you present your project on the topic [x], a topic that moves me personally. What possibilities would I have as an employee to get involved in such projects? "Or "What other projects do you support? "

Better to avoid: Personal questions about the interviewer

Even if you have something in common, you should avoid personal questions about your interview partner. Information that you found on social media profiles, for example, has no place in an interview. This applies in both directions, by the way. If the interviewer asks you questions about your personal life, you can refuse the information in a friendly but firm manner.

Exceptions are topics that are opened up in the interview itself, for example about sporting hobbies. For a running shoe brand, for example, asking whether your interviewee likes jogging or trail running, whether these are activities that you will also do together in the team, is completely legitimate. And it shows that you are interested in being part of a team. 

Conclusion

As much of a headache as the question part of the interview may be, it is quickly solved through good preparation. In the end, there are two things that you can prepare with a little commitment that will give you meaningful questions:

  1. Define what you want from the job and what is important to you.
  2. Research the company, its values and current projects

This way you are ideally prepared for the question "Do you have any other questions? ". 

Further advice to rock your sport job interview

Do you want to prepare even better for your future interview in the sports industry? We've got some more advice to help you prepare for your next interview:

Money vs Purpose: Should you leave a job that you love for a salary increase?

You feel like you've found your dream job: You enjoy the work and it challenges you, you get along well with your team and the company culture is great. Now you get a job offer with new tasks at a company you don't know yet. The biggest temptation: you can expect a salary that is significantly higher than your previous one. 

What do you choose?

We try to get to the bottom of the possible solution to the (lifelong) question of purpose vs money and perhaps help you make a decision if you ever find yourself in such a situation.

If you already have an opinion or view on this, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments - we'd love to know what you think.

What's in it for the money?

Money, money, money. Anyone who says that money doesn't make you happy is lying. Because money can eliminate quite a few worries and also fulfil quite a few things that are otherwise not possible for us. Whether it's a bigger flat, financial security, enough money for your sports equipment or other hobbies. A high salary brings you many advantages. 

Financial security for the future

First and foremost, having a well-paid job means that you can set yourself up financially for bad times, old age or a job change. It means that in the future you can do a job just for the pleasure of it - because you might not have to worry about money any more. Or take a relaxed 1 year off to explore the world. Or even retire early on.

Better negotiating basis for future jobs

Your current earnings are always the basis for new salary negotiations. This gives you the chance to earn even more in the future. Whether that is with your current employer or with another one. If for some reason your job no longer fulfils you, you can change jobs and ask for the same salary with good reason. Or you can argue for better benefits with a lower pay. For example, more home office, more flexible working hours, fewer hours per week, more holiday time. 

More salary is definitely a good thing!

From this point of view, the conclusion is that financial security and the worries it solves transcend any job fulfilment.

But is that really the case? Let's look at the other side of the coin:

What's in favour of taking the job that fulfils you

At the current times, many applicants are looking for an employer with whom they can identify. Sustainable or purposeful jobs are more in demand than ever. In employer marketing, employers formulate their corporate culture around meaning and purpose.

In personal development, a job that satisfies you is part of the "search for happiness". After all, who is not completely exhausted at the end of the day when you spend at least 8 hours a day doing something that seems completely pointless, even if the pay is good?

The meaning of life is having a good life

And not money. If you have a job that makes you happy and challenges you and that you think will continue to do so for years to come, then by all means stick with it. Because if your only drive is to make money, a day at work can feel very long very quickly. Instead, if you have a fulfilling job, you have a good reason to get up in the morning in a good mood and go home in the evening with enough energy and motivation to occupy yourself with your other interests. 

By the way, if you're already dreading Mondays on Sundays, you don't have that job yet, which means you can follow the money trail with a clear conscience. Or find a job that you love - this is how you do it.

Normally, you will also earn more money in your existing job in time, because there you can develop professionally and negotiate salary increases based on experience, good performance or high motivation.

The team factor as a decision point

Of course, the insight into the new working environment is missing in every job interview, but the interview itself at least shows you whether the chemistry with the supervisor is right - or whether your potential supervisor is absolutely awful. If they are terrible, you can be sure that even if the team is not, they will definitely quit sooner or later. And you'd still be stuck with this person.

This means that if you are already working in a team with absolutely GREAT colleagues, you might want to think about whether you really want to jeopardise that. Because a job with really nice and motivated colleagues and at best managers is so much more valuable than one with manipulative, toxic energy vampires. No salary can compensate for that.

The basic rule for every job: time is added value

Although there is a lot to be said for one thing or the other, there is really only one basic rule to follow when choosing a job. For in any career path, you should either earn well or get something that outweighs the monetary value. In the best case, of course, an employer offers you the all-inclusive package. After all, if you're going to spend a lot of your limited time on one thing, it should be worth it in some way. 

So basically, the rule "time is money" should be "time is added value". Because added value is not always financial, but can be related to other things, such as professional or personal development, learning new (soft and hard) skills, extreme amounts of free time for other things that make your life better, as long as there is money to live on. 

If at the end of the day, month or year you can look at a positive added value, you have a job that enriches your life in the truest sense of the word. And not just for survival. If you don't see this, it's time for a career change. 

And who knows, maybe we'll find IT: the holy grail of all jobs. That incredibly well-paid job, with development opportunities, in an intellectually stimulating work environment with a really nice team and managers in a company that is successful, profitable and sustainable. And, of course, in the sports industry.

8 common questions in sport job interviews and how to answer them

Even though the questions of an interview differ for every sports company, there's a handful which pop up almost every time. Answering them might be easy for some, but hard for others. That's why we're here to help. Whether you just graduated or it has been a while since your last interview - here's advice on how to answer the most common job interview questions.

"Tell me about yourself"

Most of the times, this is one of the first questions the interviewer will ask. Normally, you should recite your resume here , but don't just trot it out completely. The recruiter normally knows your CV and your application and probably even has a duplicate of it in front of him/her. Instead, use this moment as an opportunity to show the milestones that you feel are the most relevant for you and the job. It shows your personal focus and is a great way to highlight your qualities for the position.  

"Where do you see yourself in 5 years?"

Whether you're a person who is planing ahead or prefer being spontaneous and see where life is taking you, your answer should be honest.  You don't need a concrete plan to answer. What they'd like to find out about you is if you're ambitious and possibily a loyal employee, you should also reword the question for yourself to "If you're still in this company, where do you see yourself in 5 years?". It could be something around the lines of: "I like the idea to have proven myself in this company and advanced my career by offering added value through the years."  

"What’s your biggest weakness?"

The most cliché answer we have heard? Probably "I am a perfectionist". It proves that you didn't understand the purpose of this question. It aims to find out the strengths of a person: Whether they're reflective and able to analyze themselves and in conclusion their surroundings. Also, if they're able to solve problems, whether it's their own or work relative. The best way to answer this interview question is to be honest about your weakness. Keep in mind though that it's supposed to be work related - you don't need to share any personal problems. Furthermore, add the way you've been dealing with your weakness in the past, showing that you're able to provide solutions.  

"On a scale from 1 - 10, how would you rate yourself / how proficient are you at xxx?"

Whether it's about yourself or Word, Excel, Photoshop or any software, this tactical interview question comes up in every other interview. We’ll let you in on something of our headhunting experience: The question isn’t really about the skills, but about seeing how well you are able to evaluate yourself. Have you heard about "hiring for attitude"? The response "Clearly a 10!" is probably exaggerated in most cases. There's always room to improve yourself, train and learn new skills, but you can't change a first impression. Be honest about your skill-set, give them a clear insight by going a little into detail of your knowledge (a little is key here). But also admit in which areas you could do better. If you show that you're eager to learn and would be grateful to improve throughout your job, this shows a lot about your work attitude - and recruiters will mark it as a strength.

 

"Why do you want to work for this company?"

This should be a no-brainer - as long as you want to work at the sports company. It might be hard to answer though when you're not really into the job. In any case, informing yourself beforehand about your future employer is the key to formulate your response. Find out what they value, which features they emphasize on their website and integrate them into your answer. Of course, you can always share your personal interest as well - maybe you have a nostalgic story with the sports brand, love their products or their services - it shows passion.  

“Tell me about a time when...”

Probably the most concrete question - which requires a concrete response. The interviewer wants to find out how you'd react in a special situation. A classic way to answer this, is the so called STAR format:
  • What was the Situation
  • What was your Task
  • Which Action did you take
  • What was the Result
Following these simple rules, you'll be able to keep it work-related and rational.  

"When you have been let go and they ask about it" 

This is actually not a common question and only comes up rarely, but as we know it's one of the hardest to answer, we wanted to integrate it in our post anyway. Whatever reason there was, that you have been let go, there's two rules to follow when answering:
  1. Don't badmouth your former employer
  2. Focus on the positive and the opportunities that came out of it
Emphasize that you're excited for the new opportunity to prove yourself, to pursue a new position that fits you better.  

"Do you have any questions?"

Yes! The answer to this one is always yes. It shows you care, that you're interested in your employer and the job. Possible questions could be:
  • What has someone else in this position done to succeed in their role?
  • Which advancement opportunities has this position in the next years?
  • What indicates success for this company?
  • Could you describe a typical day of this position?
  • Can I contact you if I think of anymore question?

Of course, a job interview it not only about the questions, but also about your body language and your appearance. We also prepared advice for this in our blog How to score in a job interview for a follow-up and the best way to win your interviewer over.

8 Tips for an Excellent Sport Job Video Interview

Video interviews are now common practice in the sports industry. Mainly due to the developments of the last few years, video interviews have become established in many companies. While it was an interim solution for some, the advantages have convinced many recruiters to continue offering it at least an an additional option for candidates.

So it's about time for our guide to the video interview, which shows you the right preparation and how you can best present yourself via the digital format. 

Tip No. 1: Always test the technology in advance.

Does the video tool work for you?
Your interviewer will tell you in advance what software they are using for the interview: Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype, Google Hangouts or something else entirely, the list is almost endless. 
It is best to download the software in advance and test how it works so that you can start the call relaxed. You may need to define your output and input devices (i.e. loudspeaker, microphone and camera) beforehand. If you have already installed the programme, make sure you have the latest version installed or that your browser is compatible with the online version of the tool.

Is your internet connection stable

Test your Wi-Fi in advance. In case the internet doesn't work, have your smartphone ready and charged. This way you can activate your hotspot and use it as an alternative connection. Most videocall providers also allow you to dial in via a phone number if your internet is not working. 

Is your camera ready for the interview? 

Whether you use a built-in camera in your notebook or an additional camera, make sure the camera lens is clean (if not, clean it gently with a soft cloth, preferably an eyeglass cleaning cloth).

Does your microphone work?
It is best to use an external microphone, as the quality of the built-in microphone in your notebook or tablet is often not good. A headset or headphones with a microphone work best. Nowadays, in-ear headphones are the common practice as they are almost invisible and usually come with a good microphone for calls. Don't worry if you prefer on-ear headphones instead: the important thing is that the recording quality is good and they are comfortable for you to wear. Besides, the classic line about pilots or Mickey Mouse can also break the ice at the beginning of the conversation.

Additional tip: If you use Bluetooth headphones, make sure all other digital products that could connect are switched off so you don't accidentally connect to your TV or phone instead of answering the call! 

Tip no. 2: Prepare the call location

Choose a room where the internet works well and is quiet to minimise disturbances during the conversation. 

Thanks to the blur filters offered by most video call programmes, your background is no longer as important. If you have the opportunity to sit in front of a wall or a room that provides little distraction, we would still advise you to do so. Because even if your background is blurred, this creates additional calm in the picture.

Another important point is whether you have enough light to see your face well. Avoid sitting in front of a window or a light source (light in the back), otherwise you will appear as a shadow. It is best to have a light source in front of you, preferably behind your notebook, so that your face is well lit.

Tip no. 3: Wear trousers or a skirt, even if they are not visible

We've all seen the meme material circulating on the internet in which well-dressed people stand up and voila - no pants! Even though it is more comfortable to dress only the visible half of the body, it is best to choose a complete outfit. Even if the style of dress depends on the company culture (sporty, casual, business), you should always dress neatly and make sure your clothes are clean and not wrinkled. 

Looking your best also helps to put you in the right frame of mind and gives you the confidence to shine in the interview.

Tip No. 4: Make sure there's no unexpected disturbance during your call

Not that a cat sitting in front of the camera couldn't be entertaining for your interviewer, but it could throw you off your interview game - so you should prepare as much as possible to avoid distractions during your digital interview. This doesn't just apply to pets, but also to children and things like your phone (mute it, put it out of sight or activate 'do not disturb' mode), noise (close windows, don't have the interview in a crowded place), surprise visitors (inform housemates, family members and others who might be visiting).

Tip #5: Make sure your physical needs are met beforehand

What we are saying: Go to the toilet 5 minutes before the conversation so you have to during the conversation, get some tissues in case you have to sneeze, and a glass of water to moisten your mouth and throat during the conversation.

Additional tip: You urgently need to pee during the conversation or your nose is tingling? Don't be afraid to ask for a break and briefly explain why you need to interrupt. Recruiters are (mostly) only human. 

Tip no. 6: Communication: looks, facial expressions and gestures

First of all, even if you feel very tempted to check your own appearance on the screen, do not make a habit of doing so during the conversation. Instead, keep eye contact with the camera instead.

As far as your communication is concerned, talk just like you would in a normal conversation, but without informal slang that you might use with friends. Authenticity usually comes across better in a conversation than artificial formulations - which will fall by the wayside in the day-to-day work anyway. Otherwise, show emotions, smile, look determined, depending on the topic, and use your hands (not excessively, of course). This is how you radiate energy, enthusiasm and self-confidence and create a good rapport with your conversation partner.

Tip no. 7: Think about how you can answer questions about yourself and your expectations of the sports job.

While many questions vary from company to company and recruiter to recruiter, there are a few standard questions that are usually part of every interview. Two of them are usually a variation of "Tell us about yourself" and "What do you expect from this job/employer? ". Think about how you want to answer these questions beforehand - but without memorising the answers. You need a rough direction, not a pre-formulated answer (authenticity).

By the way, you can find a complete list of classic interview questions in sports business and how to answer them on our blog here: 8 common questions in sport job interviews and how to answer them

Tip #8: Prepare a list of questions about the company. 

Take the opportunity to show your interest in the job and your confidence by asking questions yourself! This not only shows that you are curious about the job and the company, but also that you meet the recruiter at eye level.

Conclusion

All in all, online job interviews are usually a bit more informal than official ones, which is mainly due to the comfort of your own 4 walls. Take advantage of this, because nothing is more convincing to an interviewer than calmness in a stressful situation and a healthy self-confidence. Last but not least, keep in mind that in any dialogue, netiquette = etiquette, i.e. always let your counterpart finish. You'll do it! Good luck for your next online job interview!

Is a career in sports marketing a good idea?

A life completely without sport - can you imagine that? No? What is an attitude to life for you personally is also reflected in the professional framework of the sports industry. Sport, as well as its related fields of health & wellness and outdoor, are among the world's continuously growing industries.

(Online) Marketing is now considered an essential part of each company, from small start-ups to large corporations. This is mainly due to the further development of the online infrastructure and a trend towards the use of digital channels. In the post-epidemic era, not only large companies but also many small businesses have shifted their focus to online communication: In addition to sales through stationary shops (retail), more and more companies are offering their products via e-commerce, through their own online shops or other online sales platforms, and are using the reach of the internet for their communication.

To cut a long story short, a career in sports marketing is a good idea, because

  • the sports industry is a continuously growing industry
  • Sport Marketing jobs are among the most frequently offered vacancies on Sportyjob and other career platforms
  • Sport Marketing offers many options for your professional development
  • Sport marketing is an exciting professional field, as it is constantly evolving and poses new challenges to marketing professionals.
  • Sport marketing expertise is also applicable outside the industry and therefore expands your potential employer market to other industries as well. 
  • Sport Marketing offers you the chance of a career change, even without a marketing degree, if you acquire the necessary skills. 

This naturally brings us to the follow-up question: How do I start a career in sports marketing?

Studying Sports Marketing - yes or no?

As a large segment of the marketing industry, sports marketing has now become a popular direct degree programme in Europe. Contrary to this, marketing is one of the areas where a particular degree does not play such a big role for recruiters. In concrete terms, this means that you do not have to study marketing to work in marketing.

On the one hand, this is due to the fact that there are many related degree programmes that partially touch on marketing, such as communication sciences, economics or sports management. On the other hand, many degree programmes cover the necessary skills or practical know-how that you need for a sports job in marketing. These are, for example, writing skills or dealing with (audiovisual) media - things that you learn in many programmes.

So why study (sports) marketing at all? 

Gaining professional experience

The main advantage of studying marketing is the practical experience you gain alongside your education. Working student positions or even compulsory internships are mainly filled by students, preferably from a related field. Sports colleges and universities have the advantage that they are closely networking with companies in the industry. This means that students from the respective universities are often given preference when it comes to filling vacancies. 

The work experience that an internship and part-time job in a sports company gives you is also what gives young professionals a huge competitive advantage. Furthermore, the internship offers you the chance to make contacts that can help you get an interview after graduation. 

Prove your perseverance

No matter what you study, any degree shows that you are willing to invest time and effort to achieve a goal. It shows a potential employer that you are disciplined and don't falter in your resolutions. This makes it an important part of your CV to show character strengths, so called soft skills.

Hands-on mentality: Learn practical marketing skills on your own or via (free) online courses to improve career opportunities.

What is the best way to a career in sports marketing without a marketing degree?

Online courses & certificates

An effective way to gain online marketing skills alongside an existing job or degree is through online certificates. Many IT companies and marketing software providers offer courses that familiarise you with the use of their programmes. This way you gain practical experience in the use of e.g. Google Adwords, Hubspot, and co. This will give you tangible knowledge that you will need for a job in sports marketing. 

Start your own project

Learning by doing may sound worn out, but it is still a true component for gaining qualifications. Especially in IT, e-commerce and online marketing, autodidacts, i.e. people who teach themselves, are widespread, as almost everyone in the modern world has the possible means (read: hardware and software) to try things out for themselves.

Build your own website and test how content and technique affect search engine rankings. In SEO, where the slgorithms of search engines are constantly changing, agencies and experienced SEO managers use this way in practice to develop new methods to improve their clients' rankings. 

Create social media channels, develop a strategy and create content. If you create a successful channel or some of your posts go viral, this is a potential reference in your application. 

Content creation, be it textual or audiovisual, is not an innate talent, but something you learn and improve with constant practice. The more you write, photograph, film and design, the better you get at it. 

Online blogs and guides can help you establish the basic rules you need as a foundation for your expertise - the rest will develop with regular practice. 

If the path seems too rocky for you, you can also take (free) lectures and online courses on the topic of online marketing. You can find some platforms that we can recommend here. 

(Part-time) jobs in your desired sports field

We also don't want to ignore the role of the company or industry - after all, we are talking about a career specifically in sports. Even if you have acquired enough knowledge to be qualified for a marketing position, it does not mean that it is in the sports industry. 

Many companies are looking for staff who are already familiar with the industry. So it is worthwhile if you have worked in a sports company already, no matter in which role. On the one hand, this offers opportunities for promotion within the company or a change of department, as positions are often filled internally, and on the other hand, the experience is also credited positively by other employers from the world of sport and opens doors for you in the sports world. 

Conclusion

The great thing about sports marketing is that you can learn a lot of knowledge and experience on your own or take it from other fields. So you don't have to follow one specific path to start your career. Study Sport Marketing and get an insight into all areas. Or if you want to learn your own way, choose a career focus, e.g. event marketing, SEO or social media, and acquire the necessary skills yourself. Many paths lead to the same goal - one of them is sure to suit you!

Other posts you might like

What are the first steps into the sports industry?

Or to put it another way: How do you turn your interest in sport into a career? Whether you are a newcomer or a career changer - to start your career in the sports business, you should meet certain requirements. Here's how to prepare yourself for starting your career in the sport business.

Entry into the sports industry for (prospective) students and graduates

Studying basically gives you the necessary academic qualifications for a future career in sport. But what do you need to study?

These courses are suitable for a career in sport

If you want to work for a sports team or work with athletes, you should definitely study sports science. For all other professions, generic courses are just as ideal for gaining the necessary expertise, as a sports brand is just as entrepreneurial as other companies. For example, journalism for sports journalists, business studies for sports marketing and sales, event management for sports event managers, product design for sports product designers. You get the idea.

Show your interest in sport on your CV

For entry-level positions, specific professional training is not usually necessary. However, for companies, of course, an interest in sports is important, so you should definitely include the sport you do in your CV. Sport shows that you fit into the team, that you have an insight into the sports industry and is often associated with certain soft skills.

Find out how to include sport in your CV and what it says about you to a recruiter in the last blog.

Complement your studies with practical experience in sport

You can also gain an understanding of the industry through part-time jobs, student trainee positions or Sport Internships.

Another option is to help out by volunteering, for example at (youth) sporting events or competitions in your area. This way you not only gain experience, but also make contacts that can help you get started.

Reorientation in your existing job: Reasons for a change to the sports industry

A new orientation in a job is often associated with some obstacles - because those who dare to make a new start in a different profession often find themselves back at the beginning of their own career. But it doesn't always have to be a complete turnaround: Sometimes a change of industry is enough to make your job more interesting again. 

Because what many people lack in their jobs - apart from a good salary and unsuitable working hours - is often quite classic boredom in the job. This can be due to a lack of challenge, a lack of development opportunities, but also because the meaning of the job is missing or the identification with an employer or the industry itself does not exist ("Why am I actually doing this?"). 

Employees in 2021 value their own belief, shared values and a better lifestyle fit over better compensation finds the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer Report, conducted in early August 2021 in 7 countries. Source: 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report: The Belief-Driven Employee

If sport is an important part of your (personal) life, the possibility to combine it with your job can make your daily work much more attractive. Maybe you use the products of your future employer yourself, share the same interests with your colleagues and can bring in your own view on the products as part of the target group. 

In other words, you can stand behind the industry, behind your employer and find a new passion for what you do.

The requirements for a move into the sports industry

For a change of industry to the sports industry, you need above all your previous experience and expertise in the job to re-enter the same profession or develop in a similar field, as well as an interest in sports and an understanding of the industry.

The latter is easy to read: Follow developments in sport through digital magazines like SGI Europe, through podcasts like Office Hours (or on relevant social media channels.

Ready for the change? Browse our current Sport Jobs and find your career with higher job satisfaction.


Other posts you might like:

https://www.sportyjob.com/blog/is-a-career-in-sports-marketing-a-good-idea/
https://www.sportyjob.com/blog/how-to-build-a-network/

What is the value of listing sport in your CV?

What is the value of listing sports in your CV?

Sports in your CV: Yes or no? Listing your personal interests is appreciated by some industries and companies, but ridiculed as unprofessional by others.
In the sports and outdoor industry, on the other hand, your personal interest in sports is not only welcomed, but usually even required. Sport is therefore one of the essential components of a CV in business. 

Because your sporting activity not only provides insights into your personality, but also shows whether you fit the employer and its product portfolio.

How is sport interpreted in the curriculum vitae?

A recruiter sees two things in your stated hobby:
A) An insight into your personality and B) Your understanding of a brand and its products.

What does which sport say about your personality?

All sports show that you are physically active. The importance of physical fitness or regular exercise on your physical and mental health is not only important for your well-being, but is also recognised by HR managers. Athletic people are often more stress-resistant and focused, as exercise reduces stress hormones and strengthens the nervous system. You show that you can balance your work, which can also have a long-term effect on job satisfaction.

Certain sports are also often associated with certain soft skills. Basically, if you do your hobby regularly, you show that you are reliable and have self-discipline, no matter what sport it is.

  • Team sports: Team athletes are used to working in a team, they are literally team players. As a footballer, basketball player, handball player etc. you show that you have social skills such as empathy, communication and cooperation.
  • Extreme sports: Surfing, BMX, downhill biking or skating, freeskiing and co. - these not-so-classic sports are becoming more and more popular, which is also slowly but surely transforming their image. 20 years ago, many recruiters considered action sports as a negative point in your application, as the risk of getting injured and thus dropping out is much higher than in conventional hobbies. Nowadays, at least in the sports industry, it's a very different story. Of course, the activities mentioned above show a certain willingness to take risks, but this can also be interpreted positively. Courage to try new things and a healthy self-confidence are relevant for many sports jobs where not only operational day-to-day business is on the agenda. Moreover, extreme athletes often have modern rather than traditional views, are open-minded and curious.
  • Self-organised sports: jogging, walking, gym and co. Sports where you organise yourself are often associated with structure, organisation, conscientiousness, perseverance and reliability. Anyone who goes jogging at 5:30 a.m. before work can certainly confirm this.
  • Outdoor sports: These are especially popular with outdoor brands. Usually, sports that you do in nature or even depend on it show that you have a better understanding of your environment. Outdoor athletes tend to be more environmentally aware. Sustainability is often important to them in products and companies. If you want to apply for a job at a company with a sustainability policy, your love of the outdoors usually fits in well with the company culture.

It's a match: your sport matches the brand's products

You are passionate about a sport, maybe even a certain brand, and suddenly they post a job ad that sounds like your dream job - that's the ideal scenario.
If your hobby, i.e. the sport you do, is relevant to the job, it will always add value to your CV in this situation. This could be trail running, for example, if you are applying for an outdoor brand, or snowboarding for a winter sports brand. Because normally you know what you expect from a product or brand that you would use yourself and can bring your perspective into the company in a positive way. In addition, there are certainly many team members in the company who have similar hobbies to yours, which has a positive effect on the atmosphere and corporate culture. 


This is what recruiters say about the relevance of sports interest in candidates:

"It's about having access to the target group, the market, a perspective on the sports industry. It certainly helps to be active in sports yourself. If someone laces up his running shoes twice a week, that's enough. They don't have to be marathon runners."

Nils Grote, Sales Manager at Altra

"To be honest, I think that if you work for a lifestyle or outdoor brand you should have passion for what the brand does and represents. In my opinion, only then, will you be able to fully contribute. If you’re not passionate about the outdoors, action sports, or whatever each brand embodies or represents, it’s not going to work."

Marco Mombelli, Brand Experience Manager at The North Face

What if you do sports but they don't match the brand's product? Normally, that doesn't detract from your application. Good team leads know that a mixture of different personalities makes a good team, as they complement each other and bring different perspectives and impulses. You still show an interest in sport and the associated values that are so important in the sports industry.

Which sports do not belong on the CV?

In general, if your hobby is not job-relevant, it has no place on your CV. However, as already mentioned, sport in the sports industry - as the name suggests - is actually always job-relevant. So there are few taboos in a CV related to sport. It's just important that you don't overdo it. You don't have to list all the sports you do; instead, choose 1-3 that you practice regularly and that fit the job / company.

However, there are a few exceptions:

If the company has traditional values, it certainly makes more sense to indicate more conventional sports - although an unusual interest can certainly draw attention to your application or even create a personal connection.

If a company focuses on sustainability, motocross may not be the best choice on the CV either. 

Means: Depending on the application, decide individually, adapted to the company, what you state and what you do not state.

How do I include sport in my CV?

And how do I enter my hobbies in the application? It's best to put them as a subheading in your CV. Hobbies also belong at the end of the CV, as your expertise is the main priority for a role.

  • Heading: "Interests and Commitment" or "Personal Interests"
  • Number: Maximum 1-3 sports, best to choose job-relevant sports
  • Instead of a bullet-point list, write a personal description:
    • If you list "running" or "cycling", it seems a bit impersonal and downright boring. Describe your hobby in more detail and in more depth
    • Example: Jogging: Morning 5k-run for the last 5 years 
    • Example: Basketball since I was 15, currently shooting guard for MTV Kornberg in the regional league.

To show or not to show milestones and achievements in your CV?

Milestones and achievements don't really belong in the CV, because you are not applying for a job as an athlete for a team. Furthermore, it can quickly look like you are bragging about them, which does not make you look very team-oriented. So your sporting CV is irrelevant, e.g. runner-up in 2007, cup winner in 2014, etc.

Exception: If your milestone demonstrates certain skills relevant to the job or a link to the brand (e.g. sponsored events by large companies), you should include it.
Example: 5k jogging every morning for 5 years, participation in Run For the Oceans 2022.

If you apply to adidas, who organise the Run For the Oceans, you show that you have engaged with the company and share their mission by participating yourself. 

How mentioning sport in your CV can make your job interview easier

By including your sport in your CV, you can be sure that your interviewer will come back to it during the interview. Since you are in familiar territory, this can only be a plus for you. Talking about the sport allows you to show your product experience, your strengths and part of your personality. 



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How to build a network in the sports business

Whether you are new to the sports business or have been a part of it for years: In general, for every profession, you should build your own professional network of people working in a the industry or in related roles to your own.

Why do you need a network?

Use external knowledge to gain fresh ideas or get advice on projects 

Your network is a deep pool of expertise and knowledge. Whether it's professionals working in the same field as you do or the complete opposite, they can provide you with a fresh perspective on projects, give you advice when you're stuck or even mentor you. While direct discussion of projects is part of smaller groups of peers, for example Mastermind Groups, sharing best practices, challenges they've overcome or tips on software, innovations and trends is a common practice in a regular feed of career-focused Social Media like LinkedIn or Xing. 

Raising your reputation

When you attend events or take part in discussions online, it helps you build your standing in your field of work. Even though getting yourself out in the open might be scary at first, sharing your own experience and expertise, as well as developing opinions on professional topics, is becoming more natural the more you practice it. 
All in all, this won't only build your personal/professional brand, but also make you more self-confident. Speaking out, sharing knowledge and mentoring people with confidence are all needed Soft Skills for team-leading positions - a plus if you want to evolve your career.

More job opportunities
Your network is a great factor in being considered for a new position in a new company.
Sports Jobs are in great demand, so for almost each role, you will have to compete with other candidates with a similar profile to your own. Especially for well-established brands like adidas, Nike, Vans & co, there might be hundred(s) of others who apply for one position.

Even though you might be the best candidate, in the couple of minutes that a personnel manager needs to evaluate your CV, your application could be overlooked. 
A well-built network might provide you a  second look and a longer moment of consideration through recommendation - or land your CV directly on the table of the head of department instead of going through HR anonymously.

 

So, let’s build a network, shall we? We know exactly how hard this can be at beginning - where do you start? How do you make connections? 

That’s why we wrote this guide that should ease your first steps in building a successful network.

Where do you find your network?

Apart from finding connections in your personal environment, the internet never ceases to create ways for connecting with people. Especially for the professional network, social platforms like Xing and LinkedIn have the main purpose of connecting professionals. There’s no getting around setting up a profile in the long run. BUT: We know that - without prior expertise and being a rookie in the sports industry - it might feel a little awkward using social media to contact people you’ve never met before.

How do you make the acquaintance of business professionals in the „real world“? You could join an online or local expert group (Mastermind) - or visit one of the events dedicated to networking or recruitment which are more anonymous at first. Normally, cities host regular after-work events where professionals from different companies meet for drinks and personal exchange. 

Industry-specific, the sports & outdoor business hosts plenty of great events to meet the right people in an environment which is made for connecting.
The most common and definitely a must-attend for everyone interested in sport professions, is the ISPO Munich in the winter and OutDoor by ISPO in the summer which are the two most important events for the European sports industry. It’s where the who is who of the sports and outdoor industry come together to network.

Upcoming events to build your network

We’d recommend visiting one of these three events in 2022 to build your network:

OutDoor by ISPO:

  • What: The most important industry meeting of the year. The event is aimed at business professionals to get an insight into innovations and trends and connect with other people.
  • When: Jun. 2022, 12 - 14
  • Where: MOC Messe Munich, Germany

-> More about OutDoor by ISPO 2022

ISPO Munich:

  • What: The world’s leading trade fair for the sports business.
  • When: Nov. 2022, 28 - 30
  • Where: Messe München, Germany

-> More about ISPO Munich 2022

Leaders Week London

  • What: Industry decision makers from across the global sport business ecosystem meet, share knowledge and do business.
  • When: Sep. 2022, 25-29
  • Where: London, UK

-> More About Leaders Week London

How to build my network at an event?

You’ve made it to the event, and you’re now ready to meet as many people as possible! That’s when you should stop in your tracks right away.

1. Find out who to talk to

It’s a general known wisdom that quality is better than quantity. That also applies to networking. Before you just storm off in whichever direction, find out who’s at the event and which connections to make. Companies you favour, important recruiters, professionals with expertise in your own field - focus on meeting those.

To find out more about who is attending beforehand, you can either check the event websites which normally contain an exhibitor database with brands. Another way is checking events and groups in Social Media like LinkedIn and Facebook. Please keep in mind that we do not encourage you to learn about specific people beforehand online, but in general get an idea which role a person works in or whether they are involved in projects that you would like to discuss.

2. Be curious and interested

You might want to network to score a job or gain knowledge. If this is your solemn purpose in networking is "gain", you won’t come far. Just asking for favours or expecting help will push your connections away. A network relationship, like any relationship, is supposed to be mutual. You might think that you’ve nothing to offer, but that’s not true. 

Even if you're new in your field, asking people about their own career path or their company and showing genuine interest is also a giving approach. It shows that you value the work they’re doing.

Also offering your opinion on relevant topics in a dedicated conversation can be helpful as it provides a fresh perspective on a company or a project (they key is to be constructive of course). Feel free to assume that companies would like to improve their services and products - it’s a fact for at least 90% of companies.

3. Provide your contact data

We won’t recommend you printing business cards and handing them out. If it’s not a striking, unique design, it will probably be lost in the bunch of cards people receive at events and it's also not very sustainable.
Instead, have your phone close by and exchange e-mail-adresses and telephone numbers or straight away connect through a social network. When the event has passed, send them a message appreciating the acquaintance. Maybe even follow up with topics to discuss.

The aftermath: Don’t forget to take care of your network

Once you managed to make a few contacts, it's time to do a follow up. If you just let them slip, it’s a lost cause. Like in every relationship, even a professional network needs attention and care.

It’s essential to stay in touch with the connections you made. It might be on a personal level like having a lunch meeting (in case that you get along on a personal level). A more professional approach would be meeting up at events that you both share an interest in. A simple information like „Hey, I will be at the ISPO in January - and it would be great to meet up“.

On the other hand, keep up through Social Networks or E-Mail. Share your own experience in your feed, comment on your network's posts or share interesting content directly in a private message are good ways to keep in touch. Just never forget that the foundation of a business network is professional. Sharing memes might seem like an easy way to connect, but it won't make you a valuable professional contact.

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How to bring a digital team with different perspectives together – an interview with Christine Goode from Eastpak

Interview with Christine Goode, Merchandising Trade Manager at Eastak

Remember the days when E-Commerce and Online Marketing used to be mutually exclusive? Nowadays, both departments are often completely entwined in a full-force digital team. Over the last two years, Eastpak, part of VF Corporation, is one of those brands setting their strategy to focus on digital-first. Their employees in Online Marketing and E-Commerce have since been working together closely in a powerful collaboration to realize the common goal of optimizing the Eastpak online shop while also meeting their individual goals. To name just a few, their teams aim for creating a great user experience (UX Designer), representing the brand and telling its story (Content Manager), positioning and selling products (Merchandising). That’s a lot of to dos that need to be balanced. And with the different targets in mind, seem to be an invitation for conflict. Because even though both E-Commerce and Online Marketing aim to sell more products, the way how to do it might differ and even be at odds with each other.  So how does this work out for Eastpak? 

Christine Goode, E-Commerce Trading Manager, is one of the people juggling the various goals in Eastpak’s digital team. She is responsible for the long term strategy of merchandising on the website and thus, developing the medium by making sure that all products are presented on the website the right way. She plays a key role in connecting the product, market, content and CX in the shop. Making her one of the best people to ask about how to bring a team together, enable good communication, solve conflicts and realizing common and individual goals in a digital team. In this interview, Christine shines some light on how to maintain a good spirit across teams and how to enable each other to produce better work. 

Sportyjob: Lets start by taking a look at the realization of Eastpaks Online Shop. How do the various roles in your digital team come together when launching new products on the website?

Christine: I’ll explain it with the launch of a special collaboration with a designer. Because for important collab-launches and peak commercial moments, we really come together with all colleagues from cross-departments, like the digital content team and the customer experience team. It’s like a task force approach. 

The aim is to make sure we got the right product at the right time in the right place on the website. And it needs to look great, it needs to be appealing for the user. So, we all play a role in realizing that. It will all begin with a combination of product performance knowledge, being up-to-date with market trends and trying to be in line with the marketing strategy. We will brainstorm where everyone can bring in their ideas. Once we are all aligned, we will proceed in covering all points: What are the key points of that product or collaboration? What sort of content are we going to have? What experience do we want the consumer to have? How do we wanna make it fun? How do we wanna make it look amazing? And you know, all of these things. Once we have our plan of what we want to do, the work begins.

Sportyjob: Working so closely together, where does one role start and the other end? For example, where does Merchandising end and the Content Marketing and Storytelling begin? What would you say?

Christine: Ultimately, they all go hand in hand, right? Because we need to. We never just work on our individual part. The common approach is: „How are WE going to do this?”. We play on our individual strengths on what we know from the data, from our insights, skills and experiences. It’s always good to get an external perspective if it’s not your direct area. You know, I contribute my direct insights, for example which country loves which products or colors. And then we build on it the content and the user experience, you know. That’s ultimately our goal. 

And we always have fun in the process, that’s the other thing. It’s an enjoyable process. It's not a drag. It's together. So, in the end it’s something that we all feel proud of and no one is saying like - and I have experienced it a lot in the past in other jobs - “Oh but why did they do it like that? Maybe it would have been better if they had done it like this.” We don't have that in the digital team because we work together.

Instead of finger pointing or blaming the other person, it’s important to be united. And if we all just support each other a little bit more, there're fewer conflicts and a better work atmosphere for the whole team.

Christine Goode, Eastpak

Sportyjob: So basically, the part about there being a conflict between Online Marketing and Merchandising is something you dont experience at all. From what Ive gathered, youre actually getting along great. Why do you believe that is?

Christine: Of course, Marketing will have their goals and objectives. And so does Merchandising. I’m trying to drive performance, I have financial targets, so I need to hit that sitting on my shoulders. But I can't do it without the support of the Content Marketing. That would be really hard. I can plan all the actions and promotions in one, but if we don't have the communication and the content, it's pointless.

I think it comes down to empathy. It comes down to having a conversation about your to-dos, workload, targets. What you’re under pressure with. And my lovely colleague Bryony, the Digital Content Manager here at Eastpak, fortunately is someone who shares the passion for working collaboratively. So, we both discuss our individual to dos and pressures. But instead of taking it all on individually, we are supporting each other. The conflicts get kind of removed, because we’re both very open and honest with each other. We have lots of conversations, we have lots of meetings, we plan together, so we can see immediately what might be a problem because of whatever reason. So we work around it and come up with a solution.

Instead of finger pointing or blaming the other person, it’s important to be united. And if we all just support each other a little bit more, there're fewer conflicts and a better work atmosphere for the whole team.

Sportyjob: So you are definitely working around this. But more in general, would you say the conflict is an outdated prejudice?

Christine: It definitely still exists. I have experienced it in previous workplaces. It's a very different pressure. It’s having different goals, different targets. For my part of the business, it’s always financially driven and VF is financially driven, aimed at driving profitable growth. I have to push, push, and push. Although marketing don’t have financial targets, digital marketing are always supporting in helping to achieve our targets.

Sportyjob: So you really have a good fusion of the different departments. Apart from Content Marketing, you also work closely with the CX team. How do you encourage a better connection with the other teams?

Christine: So, my professional contact points are the CX manager and the UX analyst as much as Digital Content Manager. Depending on what the initiative is, one of them will set up the task force. A small group of people with relevant knowledge and experience to work on things, for example a product page redesign or a new homepage feature. The UX analyst, she is amazing, she’ll come up with great ideas. We have regular follow-ups. Depending on what the initiative is, for example, one department will lead the project. It can be led either by the digital content manager or the UX specialist, or sometimes myself. 

Sportyjob: Looking at the recent work conditions due to Covid-19: How have you managed to stay connected on a professional and personal level during the last year, especially with remote work going on?

Christine: Well, of course with the zoom calls like everyone else. We have also organized a lot of fun team moments, like quizzes, for example. So especially in the beginning, we would have a Zoom call with the whole team on Friday afternoons. It’s not work talk. Let’s just hang out for a bit on Zoom and chat. 

When we come together for let’s say a Monday afternoon meeting. We call it the “didgeridoo”. I can’t remember where it came from but anyways, that’s the title of our meeting. So it hasn’t got a very corporate name in our agendas. We do cover our points of business like: What do we have coming up? Does everyone have what they need? Are we all OK? Does anyone need support on a project? We get that out of the way and we’ll just hang out a little bit and talk about the weekend or share some funny stories. 

And these moments are everything. 

When you’re having a really busy, focused day, then it’s really nice to take that moment out and just talk about some silly stuff. And we all have a laugh. You know, my last intern, she started during COVID. So she was in the office like once or twice and we were never really together physically but she was very much part of the team anyways. So it didn't feel like strange or weird. She was totally in.

Sportyjob: That sounds like fun! And apart from the more personal meetings, is there any advice you have to maintain or gain a good team spirit?

Christine: I mean empathy. Again. It's a bit repetitive but EMPATHY. You have to be understanding to each other. Someone might be having a really bad day, but maybe there is a really good reason for why they’re having such a bad day. So again, rather than being like: what’s wrong with her? What’s her problem? It’s more like: Hey guys, I think she’s having a bit of a bad day. Let’s do something fun or nice. We always try to support and uplift each other, not back people down. 

Honesty. You can always be honest without being mean. 

And positivity. Like I’m a very positive person and so is Bryony, the Digital Content Manager. We’re very positive people and love to give the team members credit. Push them to share, so that they get good visibility with management. We share the glory, we don't take it for ourselves. Because it's so easy and we've all seen it a hundred million times: Something goes well and you will always have someone leading take the glory. We don’t do that. 

We share the glory, we don't take it for ourselves. Because it's so easy and we've all seen it a hundred million times: Something goes well and you will always have someone leading take the glory. We don’t do that. 

Christine Goode - Eastpak

And it works the other way round. If something goes wrong, we don't just let one person take the hit. We all did it. To keep it moving. If someone is down, we're gonna pick him up. 

Playing on the strengths of the team, of course, and letting everyone have a moment to shine.


The interview caught your interest? 

Read on with Part 1: Digital Transformation at Eastpak: “No small steps, but a big, bold transformation” – Chris Delahunty on the Digital Transformation at Eastpak”

Part 2: The Importance of Purpose-Led Storytelling – An interview with Bryony Collingwood, Digital Content Manager at Eastpak


The Potential of Collaborative Effort in Sustainability – in conversation with Julian Lings, Senior Manager, Brand Sustainability at VF Corporation

Wouldn’t it be nice if outdoor brands shared concrete strategies on doing good for the environment? Sharing insights into new technologies of producing materials more eco-friendly? Together, ensuring that carbon emissions decrease a lot faster, and product development becomes more and more sustainable to combat climate change.

It’s a mission already realized across nations, with The Paris Agreement bringing them together for a common cause. So why not integrate shared goals into businesses as well?

Of course, the logical (or economical) answer seems to be that companies won’t share their business advantages. In 2021, it’s more important than ever for brands to behave environmentally-friendly to strengthen their customer relationships, with consumers favoring products which meet their own requirements of sustainability. A shared-value approach that is uniting businesses with sustainable and community-building progress.
Having a thorough sustainability strategy set up is creating a competitive advantage - giving that away doesn’t appear to be in line with capitalism. Nevertheless, it might be a great chance to achieve a bigger impact in bettering the world. But is it merely a fantasy?

Who better to ask than the outdoor industry itself - or at least, key players in roles having the power to make change happen. One of these people is Julian Lings, Senior Manager, Brand Sustainability at VF Corporation. He makes it clear that the necessity of partnerships has long since reached the outdoor industry. Be it under one roof at enterprises who are uniting brands for common sustainability goals, or industry wide, with brands coming together for the good cause of bettering the world in the European Outdoor Group. So, what is happening in the world of the outdoor industry? Giving us an insight into the walls of his own work, we asked Julian to shed some light on the change happening in the industry.

Building sustainable businesses across brands in an enterprise

In the last years, we’ve seen companies putting sustainability on the top of their agendas, publishing ambitious goals in reducing their carbon footprints, choosing responsible manufacturers, focusing on recycled and reusable materials, and designing with circularity principles in mind. Of course, so does VF Corporation.

VF is one of the largest apparel retailers in the world, leading the way in cross-brand sustainability strategy in the outdoor industry. In total, they unite 13 brands under one roof, outdoor being one of their main sections with brands like The North Face, Icebreaker, Smartwool and Timberland. Under the motto “We are made for change”, VF is looking for a way to improve people’s lives and make the world better, with the necessary power and influence only a company of this size and (wo)manpower can have. Uniting brands and respectively their consumers for the same goals, creating shared values. Their shared sustainable practice makes it possible that those brands enable each other while staying true to their own identity, reach bigger successes in acting sustainable - or with purpose - together instead of alone - and at the same time, generate a better revenue.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/KgsunZKvLqc

In 2017, they decided to transform from linear to circular production. Realizing this for 13 brands simultaneously, that's a change happening on a grand scale.

To ensure that their goals are met according to their plan, VF is acting on two levels: Brand and Global. Each respective brand sustainability teams take care of improving the environmental impact for its brand, focusing directly on the aspects that concern each specific brand. The global sustainability team supports each brand team and keeps track of the overall process across all brands and corporate-wide. A must if change is supposed to happen: “The goal of shaping a sustainable future for people and the planet is going to require radical changes, from government policy, private and public finance, to the way that we do business every day. For business, those changes won’t happen by individual functions acting in isolation. The systemic changes that are needed will require a business wide response that brings together the skills and expertise of all functions to shape the sustainable future that we must strive to create.” (Julian Lings)

When actual change happens: Reducing the carbon footprint

A concrete example of what they have achieved in the last years is their collaborative effort of reducing the carbon footprint. According to Julian, “60-80% of our carbon emissions are produced in material processing and product manufacturing. How material is made into products. Consequently, one of our main goals is shifting to materials with a low carbon impact. For The North Face, it is polyester and nylon, where we prioritize recycled materials. For Smartwool, it is about transitioning to recycled or regenerative wool. Each brand has its unique targets.“ 

One of the most important materials to focus on for most brands is cotton. Around 50% of all textiles world-wide are made from its fiber. Unfortunately, conventional cotton farming processes are a significant contributor to biodiversity loss, soil erosion, and carbon emissions. With 1.5 million units of apparel and footwear produced by VF’s brands, this is one of the biggest chances to deliver results by collaborating to meet their targets until 2030. That's why they are changing their course from conventional farm methods to innovative ones.

Soil acts as a vital carbon sink by sequestering carbon into the ground. Normally, conventional farming and agriculture is responsible for a significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions. However, regenerative farming solutions allow us to turn it around by enhancing soil carbon sequestration, for example, by no-till farming technique, or enriching the soil with compost.“, says Julian.

A development of new cultivation, especially with exchanging synthetic fertilizers with organic compost, results not only in better soil health and biodiversity, but also offers the tantalizing prospect of having a net carbon positive impact. Obviously, this isn’t done by VF alone, but in cooperation with responsible manufacturers and companies that focus on developing innovative ways to act more sustainably.

When companies come together, change happens

Or how the popular saying goes: "Alone we are a drop, together we are an ocean".

What we can learn from the example above is that the moment that brands are focusing on partnerships outside of their own walls is where the collaborative effect is becoming clearer.

Using our scale for good is intrinsically linked to a recognition that despite our size, only by working in partnership with others can we truly leverage our scale to address the biggest challenges the world faces. Breaking new ground on sustainable innovations such as regenerative agriculture can only be done by cultivating partnerships with NGOs, companies, and external experts.“ (Julian Lings)

A great example would be the development of The North Face Cali Wool Beanie project. This project was the brand’s first foray into regenerative agriculture and was only made possible through their partnership with Fibershed – a non-profit that develops regional and regenerative fiber systems on behalf of independent working producers. The growing and sewing took place regionally in California, bringing it back to their North American home. As a so-called “bioregional garment Project", regional fibers are integrated into the existing global textile supply chains, which are normally dominated by foreign manufacturers.

The partnerships from brands with NGOs allow for embodying an all-encompassing approach of environmental values and social responsibility. Adding an important step to the ladder of product design & manufacturing, which starts way before recycling and reducing, or creating awareness for environmental products. It’s a necessity to truly turn the outdoor industry around, not only on the outside, but inside its core.

From competition to collaboration - for a sustainable future across brands in the outdoor industry

Now that we have seen what is possible for one company and its partners alone, the question is: Will there ever come a day where competitive outdoor brands act together to make a change? A question that we want to direct to Julian: "Definitely. Collaboration between brands has been well-established in the outdoor sector for many years. We’ve been collaborating on a range of subjects, and the output of that work has been very important on specific topics. For example, the outdoor brands in Europe came together on the issue of microfibres, and helped to establish The Microfibre Consortium which has since become one of the leading organizations on textile microfibres. Similarly, these same brands have come together more recently to establish the Single Use Plastics Project to accelerate the work being done to address this critically important challenge."

The collaborative approach cross-industry and on a global level of The Microfibre Consortium and Single Use Plastics Project accelerated the progress of research and development, which couldn’t be done on this scale as stand-alone companies. A positive outlook for a near future where sustainability becomes at least as important as creating revenue. It’s a way of changing the industry as a whole, with VF being a strong pioneer pointing in the right direction.


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