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Nike CIO, Jim Scholefield
Nike CIO, Jim Scholefield

Scheller Graduate and Nike CIO Jim Scholefield Credits Degree with Career Success and Offers Advice for Current Students

Scheller College of Business alumni and Nike, Inc. Global Chief Information Officer Jim Scholefield has a unique view of how technology is at the core of today’s modern business world. He credits his Georgia Tech MS in Management degree (precursor to the Scheller MBA) with giving him the background he needed to succeed as an IT professional in the business world. We had a chance to interview him for a deeper dive into exactly how the intersection of business and technology is changing the career landscape for both students and current managers.

How did your experience during the MSM program at Georgia Tech impact your career afterwards?

Making a strong first impression is crucial for long-term professional growth. While a lot of college students want to start at the top, jumping into a job to which you’re not qualified can actually have a negative impact on your career; it might take you too long to get up to speed on a project, or you simply might not have the knowledge you need to execute effectively.

The Georgia Tech MSM program gave me the background I needed to understand the business side of what was going on quickly, while also preparing me to be the person who translated that information into technology solutions.

This really helped me out early on in my career at P&G where I worked in business intelligence and developed forecast models. It also equipped me for long-term success because I understood the importance of entering the workforce with the right level of preparation. My managers immediately knew what I was capable of and could add the right responsibilities to grow my career accordingly.

Technology is pervasive in all industries, but business disruption over the last 15 years in particular has really taken a toll on the brands that weren’t ready for it. Who would have thought that the taxi industry could be disrupted by a phone app? Who would have thought that the company who invented the digital camera would be an afterthought in 2015?

Who would have thought that the movie rental business would get turned on its head because of streaming technology?

Savvy people who dominated their industries totally missed technology inflection points that ultimately put them out of business. And every one of those brands probably had a technology organization that saw it coming to some degree, but the information didn’t make it to the top. That’s why managers at every level, but especially the senior level, need to have a better understanding of emerging technologies and how it will impact them in the future.

You want to find a company that helps you build on what you already know – a company that provides the opportunity to learn and develop your craft.

You have to remember that internships aren’t about money. They are about getting a deeper understanding of your professional field, so you can identify what elements of the job you like and what elements you aren’t as fond of. This will help you narrow down the type of role you want to pursue once you graduate and hopefully give you the right skills to pursue it.

I feel similar to an athlete at the peak of his career. I have a lot of experience but still have the drive to do more. When the brand at the top came calling, I wanted to be part of the team and see how far we could really go.

I’ve also been heavy into sports all of my life, and Portland is a great place to live an athletic lifestyle. Nike is a company where everyone is in love with sports, and a lot of the things that I love to do are right in the area. It’s a great place to be active and experience the outdoors.


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