Hire Up: How Shawn Hoy Plans to Keep Saucony Sprinting Ahead

After more than a decade in Oregon, with most of his career spent working for Nike, newly-appointed Saucony exec Shawn Hoy is back home.

In April, the Massachusetts native joined Saucony — which is based in Waltham — as its VP of global product following roughly nine years in a number of roles at Nike. Prior to joining the running standout, Hoy ended his tenure with the Swoosh as its senior director of core performance footwear. In his new role with Saucony, the leader is tasked with guiding its global brand footwear and apparel strategies.

Here, Hoy shares with FN his lofty goals for Saucony and how he will help the brand achieve them.

How I got here:  “How far back do you want to go? Well, I was born in Massachusetts, so being at Saucony brings me back home. In my time away from Massachusetts, I’ve really had two different careers: strategy and product. I learned strategy at McKinsey and Bain and applied strategy a bit at Nike. Then, I made the switch to product in 2012 as the product director for Nike Soccer. That switch only happened because Phil McCartney, now head of footwear at Nike, was willing to take a risk and challenge the traditional resume requirements for a product director. I would not have a career in product without him. Now, I’m at Saucony. There is such a tremendous opportunity and I am truly humbled to be a part of this team.”

Big goals: “Simple: Make all runners better and do so in way that is disruptive and distinctly Saucony. When we do both of those things, we will take No. 1 market share position in run specialty [retail]. Easy, right?”

Key challenges: “Focus and patience. I need to keep my team focused on the steps on the way towards our big goal. It’s easy to get distracted. More broadly, I need to make sure I’m articulating an appropriate timeline that executive leadership can hold me accountable for when they can expect to see the financial results of our efforts.”

Typical day:  “The only thing typical about my day is that my wife, Kelly, the brand director at Keds, ensures that I work out. Beyond that, it’s the wild west every single day. That’s not a bad thing, by the way. I’d go insane if I had a predictable work life. I’d probably also drive everyone around me crazy.”

Best decision: “Great question. Moving into footwear was the best decision I’ve made. I loved the academic and philosophical nature of strategy, but nothing is better than walking down the street and seeing a product that my team worked on come to life on someone’s feet.”

Worst decision: “I’ve yet to make a bad career decision. That’s not to say that I have not failed. I have. To quote ‘Top Gun,’ I crashed and burned. However, I learned more from one failure than all my successes. I learned valuable lessons about relationship building, patience, the value of alignment and communication. I’d encourage everyone to fail at some point in their careers. It doesn’t feel great while it’s happening, but failure is an amazing teaching tool.”

Career mentors: “I’ve been blessed to work with amazing people at every step. Phil McCartney, Vince Coates, Denis Dekovic and Tarek Hasan are four people I refer back to often when confronted with challenges, questions, etc. They may not know that I think of them as career and life mentors, but I do. Thank you to those great leaders. Now, I have an opportunity work with Anne Cavassa. Anne is a true consumerist and has an incredible vision for Saucony. She pushes hard and I’m better every day for it.”

Below, watch the career advice Saucony president Anne Cavassa shared with FN.

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