As a Footwear Product Line Manager at Nike SB, Nicole redefines a male-dominated industry.
We asked Nicole a few questions...
What energizes me is when I am able to talk to someone who has a completely different perspective on something that you know is true because you’ve lived it, breathed it, and still experience it, and having them meet you half way by the end of the conversation and say “Wow I never thought of it that way.” That creates a less biased future where we can have real conversations about moving things like gender equality forward when we start from the same place.
Choose your hard!
I think my favorite example is from the realities of gender gap from the book 'The Invisible Women’ by Caroline Criado Perez. There are just so many different ways you can see how the baseline of society is systemically biased towards men as the default to how the world operates. How do we even begin to start designing product solutions for women when they are not considered when research is conducted, but they are an end user? It blows my mind how as a result, women are actually at higher risk when using these products because they were not a part of the equation from the beginning.
Every time I get a seat at the table I make sure that I don’t waste that opportunity to champion change by educating, challenging and holding others accountable to their words - especially representing the underrepresented. As a female minority in a male-dominated industry, you don’t have to assimilate to become successful - not to professional male, female, or non-binary stereotypes. It’s so important to stay authentic on your way up so that a younger women can see themselves becoming a leader and staying true to who they are even when they are at the top.
Be unapologetic about how you show up.
"As a female minority in a male-dominated industry, you don’t have to assimilate to become successful - not to professional male, female, or non-binary stereotypes. It’s so important to stay authentic on your way up..."
I draw a lot parallels from other disciplines that share similar wavelengths. To be able to see the world through their eyes and learn about their process is what is the most fulfilling for me. We’re all doing the same thing - turning what was once impossible, possible and setting a new status quo for someone new to challenge in the near future.
What also helps is taking your mind off of something that you are obsessive and passionate about actually resets your mind. It’s hard for me. My brain is wired in a way that it doesn’t stop and those who know me know that I don’t sleep. But I am getting better and being intentional about winding down and taking breaks. The moment you are relaxed, you find your way right back into your flow. And when you get used to resetting your mind, you keep your creative and competitive spark alive.