Lisa Thompson balances life, work, play

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Articles - April 2012
Thursday, March 22, 2012



Lisa Thompson became president of Icebreaker USA in June 2010.

Lisa Thompson started working for Icebreaker in Wellington, New Zealand, when she was only 21. Today, at age 32, she is president of Icebreaker USA, headquartered in Portland. Before moving to the United States in 2010, Thompson worked as Icebreaker’s Australian market manager, Australian account manager and general manager of the company’s New Zealand market. She spent some of that time working remotely from home in Raglan, a tiny New Zealand coastal town where thousands of cows grazed outside her window. Thompson serves on the Portland Development Commission’s Athletic & Outdoor Advisory Board and lives in the West Haven neighborhood along with her husband, Phil Hamilton, and their three children, Thompson, Frida and Leo.

“Lollies, pineapple lumps. People say they’re like Charleston Chews. And mustard. When we moved here my husband and I tried 15-20 mustards and couldn’t find hot English mustard, so we import it. We import Vegemite and Marmite. Long- term, I miss friends and family. Culturally, I miss the New Zealander’s wonderful way of getting things done. Not as much bureaucracy as there is here.”

“I’m lucky Jeremy Moon, the founder of Icebreaker, is willing to let people learn and make mistakes. I’m the oldest of five kids so maybe I have natural leadership skills. I’m relatively ballsy; I rode BMX and motorbikes as a kid. I attribute my longevity at Icebreaker to great relationships. I love being surrounded by good people. It’s been a wonderful journey and experience. I’ve literally grown up here.”

“The princess. It started with a debate about what my title should be. The previous guy was the president but that seemed so official and grown up. And everyone in New Zealand would take the piss out of me with a title like that. In jest I said it should be princess. It symbolizes that we don’t take ourselves too seriously. I get stuff done; I don’t muck around too much. Too bossy, probably.”

“Hanging out with kids at the park. Cooking and baking. We’ve got a great community here. I’ve never felt as connected as I do in Portland. I only watch movies on the plane. I’m disciplined about going to the gym. I’m trying to learn to run. I don’t love it, but when you travel you can run anywhere. I’m lucky I have a husband who is home fulltime. I know the kids are in his care.”

“I hope Icebreaker is the leader of Merino wool in the United States. I want to triple revenues in three years, and figure out how to communicate our sustainability mission to U.S. consumers. I want us to become the greenest company in the world. I’m focused on recreating the culture in New Zealand here — fluid and fun. We encourage people to think outside the box. You have a say. You can make a difference.”


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