It’s never easy to find a successor to the founder of a business but when it is Nike, the world’s largest athlete shoe company, with 57,000 employees and $12 billion plus in sales, it is almost a Mission Impossible.
But Philip Knight, 66, thought he had found the perfect person when in December 2004,he retired as chief executive and appointed, to everyone’s astonishment, an outsider – William Perez, a 34 year veteran of SC Johnson & Company in many top brand marketing jobs, including president.
Despite a public welcome of high expectation from Knight things haven’t worked out and today Perez announced his resignation saying “Phil and I weren’t entirely aligned on some aspects on how best to lead the company’s long-term growth”.
Maybe the problems stemmed from Knight’s decision to remain as chairman and couldn’t keep away from day to day operations or that Perez simply wasn’t a Nike family man.
A clue might be found in Perez’s successor – long-time Nike president Mark Palmer who Knight passed over in favour of Perez.