Nike VP Sarah Mensah Is Empowering The Next Generation Of Female Leaders
Courtesy of Nike

In March 2021, Sarah Mensah, a former Portland Trail Blazers executive and the former VP for Jordan Brand’s North America region, was tapped to take on her next role – VP/GM for Nike’s North America region. As the lead of Nike’s largest market, Mensah was bound to inspire women around the world, but the talented executive also had the power to make a life-changing impact in her hands as she made history by becoming the first Black woman to lead Nike’s North America business.

After working in the role for a full year, Mensah reflected on her journey thus far in a Footwear News interview. In her interview, Mensah said, “I feel a tremendous amount of responsibility because Nike means so much to the Black community. To be the first Black woman leading this geography is an incredible mandate.”

It’s no secret that there is a lack of representation of women executives and women in leadership roles in the corporate world, but there’s an even lesser presence of Black women in leadership positions. However, thanks to the strides of Black entrepreneurs and Mensah’s accomplishments, we are witnessing progress and making room for more Black leaders to be in leadership roles.

While Mensah is doing a stellar job leading Nike’s North America region, she’s also doing the work to empower her team – especially the women. “I have an open-door policy,” Mensah told Footwear News. “As a leader, it’s so important to create those spaces. I’m comfortable listening and allowing my team — many of whom are senior female leaders — to help with the solution. These are the future leaders at Nike and they’re coming up with a lot of the strategies that will define the future.” 

Thankfully, today’s generations and the generations to come will have a diverse group of leaders to show them that all dreams are possible for all people – no matter the race or gender. However, it hasn’t always been that way. “So many of us, especially in my generation, spent a good portion of our time in business trying to emulate what the guys were doing, thinking there would be some reward at the end,” Mensah said in the interview. “The best way to unlock success is to trust that gut and know that your voice matters.”

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