Jump the Fumble

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“Jump on the fumble” is a mantra that Holly Tyson, Chief Human Resources Officer at Dick’s Sporting Goods, frequently shares with her team and that she has internalized and exercised throughout her career. In her BT seminar on October 4th, Tyson emphasized the importance of taking initiative and creating opportunities for yourself by doing more than what’s expected of you. Throughout her career, which has spanned six industries in her 23 years since grad school at the Teacher’s College of Columbia University, she stated that her current job at Dick’s is the only position that existed before she had it, as she instead advanced in her career by identifying her own opportunities for advancement. Similarly, in recruiting new employees to Dick’s Sporting Goods, the key differentiator she looks for in candidates, more so than past accomplishments, is talent potential. On top of passion, drive, commitment, and skill, Tyson stated that a willingness to take initiative, get out of their comfort zone, and an ability to “know what to do when they don’t know what to do” are essential skills in a potential hire.

Previously serving human resource roles at CIGNA, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and The Brink’s Company, she said that working at Dick’s was a perfect fit for her, as it possessed all four attributes she looks for in a company: one that has a strong brand, is high-growth, is mission-driven, and possesses world-class talent. She then portrayed how Dick’s satisfied her four key criteria for a company she would work for by outlining the who, what, why, how, and where of the company. She answered “who” and “what” Dick’s by identifying Dick’s as a family business, as the CEO position has been held by Dick Stack and his son Edward Stack, so it possesses a strong culture, but is also America’s largest sports goods retailer, with 40,000 associates, 800 stores, and $8 billion in sales. For “why,” Tyson addressed why Dick’s sells the products that it does. In answering this question, she expressed that “sports matter,” and that it is Dick’s mission to inspire, equip, and support athletes so they can obtain the skills and values that sports engender. In recounting her son’s experience joining a cross country team at a new middle school and subsequently making friends through the team, she conveyed how sports can foster a strong sense of community, an ability to work in teams, drive, and perseverance. For “how” the company has tried to provide people with the values sports equip athletes with, she mentioned that in addition to selling products to customers, Dick’s has also responded to the report that 27% of public schools will lack funding for sports in 2020 by donating money to teams in low-income areas such as the Houston Fifth Ward Saints. A high school football team that had their gear stolen, Dick’s provided them with $100,000 worth of gear so their team could be revived and the players could be empowered to obtain the key values accumulated through sports. For “where” Dick’s plans to go in coming years in terms of new initiatives and directions, Tyson stressed the need to compete and differentiate against e-commerce behemoth: Amazon. She stated that the retail industry has transformed from brick and mortar to “click and mortar,” largely due to Amazon’s influence and success. To address this new change, Dick’s has implemented an initiative in which customers can buy products online and pick them up in the store, and has created an app that uses Fitbit or other smart watch data to track and reward exercise with points and eventually gear. In addition, the company has created a program called Team Sports HQ, in which youth teams can buy personalized gear. In this new age, she emphasized that adopting new technology and innovating are essential to remaining a key competitor in retail. Similar to Holly Tyson’s personal philosophy for advancing in a career, retail companies must also “jump on the fumble,” or identify and adapt to changing trends and consumer preferences to stay relevant and competitive.