Sponsored by Oregon Business

VIP: Conversation with Nike’s head of Global Women’s Fitness, Heidi O’Neill

| Print |  Email
Friday, June 01, 2007


Heidi O’Neill

Head of Nike’s Global Women’s Fitness

Heidi O’Neill built her career by avoiding the shrink-and-pink approach to women’s athletics.

Shrink and pink is industry-speak for taking a men’s product, changing the size and color palette and marketing it to women. O’Neill prefers products designed to meet a woman’s needs, from extra shock absorbers in shoes to sports bras for active moms.

As head of Nike’s Global Women’s Fitness category, O’Neill leads a team focused exclusively on active females. Developing products tailored for the consumer seems deceptively simple; O’Neill and her team talk to women about their workouts and the importance of sports in their life. They take that information back to Nike’s lab, where researchers examine products from every angle.

“The fact that my team and I get to spend all day, every day thinking just about women is empowering,” she says. Nike’s role as an athletic wear juggernaut attracted her to Beaverton in 1998. “It’s an incredibly inspirational environment,” says O’Neill.

After working her way up to vice president of U.S. apparel, O’Neill, who is 42, was promoted to lead Global Women’s Fitness in January. The division conceives, designs and markets everything women need for running, yoga class or the dance studio.

O’Neill plans to use her new position to further connect with Nike’s consumers, even if it means following them into the gym. 

“I’ve been preparing for this job since I was 5,” O’Neill says. Growing up in northern Michigan, she skied, played tennis and swam competitively throughout her childhood. She also learned the retail business while working at Portside Sports, her parents’ sporting goods store.

Of course, walking past a perfectly groomed soccer field on the way to a meeting, planning a trip to Casablanca to oversee a women’s marathon or meeting some of the biggest names in sports — ever heard of Maria Sharapova? — are worlds away from stringing tennis rackets in the back of your parents’ store.

O’Neill sums it up: “I have the best job on the planet.”

— Colleen Moran

Have an opinion? E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


More Articles

Photo Log: Inside Portland Razor Co.

The Latest
Wednesday, October 14, 2015

2-sheets-IMG 4897


Have a baby and keep a job? It won’t be easy in Portland

The Latest
Friday, October 02, 2015
100115kimblogthumbBY KIM MOORE

Our intrepid (and expecting) research editor finds the child care search involves long waiting lists, costly fees and no certainty of securing a place before she goes back to work.


Seven questions about mandatory sick leave

Contributed Blogs
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
102815-contributedthumbBY DIANE BUISMAN

Many employers have questions about what mandatory sick leave means for their company. Take a look at the top 7 questions Oregon employers are asking.


The High Road

November/December 2015
Wednesday, October 28, 2015

As CEO and owner of five different cannabis-related businesses generating a total net revenue of $2 million, Alex Rogers could sit back and ride the lucrative wave of Oregon’s burgeoning pot industry.


Reader Input: In or Out

October 2015
Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The refugee crisis has put immigration and border issues on the front burner, in Europe and at home. In Oregon, attitudes toward illegal immigration haven’t changed dramatically since 2006.


OEN takes Portlandia route in new video

The Latest
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 3.27.58 PMBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Several Portland entrepreneurs make appearance in patently silly "The Dream of the Startup is Alive in Oregon" promo.


Where Do We Go from Here?

Guest Blog
Wednesday, October 21, 2015
102115-thumbBY JASON NORRIS | CFA

Volatility reigned supreme over the summer. The old Wall Street adage of, “Sell in May and go away,” was prophetic in 2015.

Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02