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Vibram’s Sneaker Forum Explains Why Diverse Teams and Corporate Culture Are Crucial to the Sneaker Business

Vibram continued its Sneaker Forum series last night for future footwear industry hopefuls at its Boston-based Consumer Experience Center. And the topic the panel of executives discussed was the importance of people and building a team.

The talk was led by Vibram president and global chief brand officer Fabrizio Gamberini and featured panelists Melissa Worth (SVP North America & GM of New Balance), D’Wayne Edwards (Pensole Design Academy founder), Isack Fadlon (CEO of Sportie LA) and Todd Dalhausser (president of Altra Running).

Here are five compelling quotes from the panelists who offered insights on team building and establishing a culture that people feel proud to be part of.

Melissa Worth
SVP North America & GM, New Balance

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“You need to get to know people, you need to get to know their skill set, you need to get to know the business in terms of where you want to go and make sure you have different points of view. If you really want to have that constructive dialogue you have to bring people in with different backgrounds, with different points of view to the table because that’s the only way you’re going to really work out issues and be able to move things forward.”

Fabrizio Gamberini
President and Global Chief Brand Officer, Vibram 

“The reality is when you get a [leadership] position like this one you have pressure every day. You have pressure from the board, you have pressure from your colleagues, you have pressure from the company that you belong to — so there is pressure from the top. In order to do [succeed] in the right way the more you have a diverse team, the more you have different perspectives, [the better they] can help you in weathering [different] situations.”

D’Wayne Edwards
Founder, Pensole Design Academy

“You have to know who you are as a person and then where you best fit in the organization. Don’t wait for the job to tell you where you fit in the organization. You need to decide where you fit in the organization. And just as much as you’re interviewing with the company for employment you need to interview the company as well because you can get into a situation that’s miserable and that’s because you thought that the company would define your success. The company will never define your success. It will always let you down when that happens.”

Isack Fadlon
CEO, Sportie LA

“We are looking, and continue to look since 1985, for people who have the same passion as we have. What does that mean? I, and everybody that’s part of Sportie LA, we live, we breathe, and I’m embarrassed to say it but we smell the shoes every day, all day. Thats our life. If you have that same passion then you belong, you’re part of our group. This is not a job. This is a lifestyle. This is what you choose to do. This is how you choose to live because at the end of the day it’s your choice, it’s nobody else choice. You choose where you want to be, you choose where you want to work.”

Todd Dalhausser
President, Altra Running

“We moved the brand from Logan, Utah, a unique place up in a valley near Salt Lake City. Imagine moving this group of people to Denver and starting all over again. We have to be conscious of what was great about the culture in Utah and how can we bring that culture to Denver. I personally spent a lot of time on the culture, and culture is not easy. It’s not like you wake up one day and you say, ‘OK, we’re going to be a culturally-relevant brand today.’ It takes time, and most importantly, it takes people. The right people.”

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