Adidas’ CEO Bjorn Gulden did a surprising thing when he shared his cellphone number with 60,000 employees at a town hall meeting in an effort to boost transparency at the firm, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal. Gulden addressed ‘transparency concerns’ which employees had raised. The CEO of the sports giant mentioned that the for a while he was contacted about 200 times every week by staff asking him to make changes to the company according to Wall Street Journal’s report.
“Some people think I’m crazy,” the Norweigan national told WSJ, before adding that he thought it was important for leaders to be open.
Gulden has an extensive body of work with a near decade long stint at Puma, where he was credited with leading an impressive sales turnaround that he’s now trying to replicate at Adidas.
After a year that saw the company caught up in controversy following Ye’s antisemitic remarks, struggling sales, and worker discontent, Gulden said he was aware that turning the company around would be a challenge.
“There was a culture of finding reasons not to do things,” Gulden said, adding that it was holding the company back.
Some of Gulden’s other changes included reintroducing sports like cricket that have loyal customers in big, albeit specific, markets such as India, streamlining communications at the top of the business so that he had more direct reports from department heads, and binning a laborsome evaluation practice, according to the report.
Gulden added that the company was now on track to return to profitability this year. For decades its main competitor Nike has been the number one player in the industry, but weaker sales caused the company’s stock price to drop over the last year. The company announced in December that it planned to cut hundreds of jobs to try and save $2 billion.
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