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Internship Spotlight: Hilary Gridley '17

What are you doing this summer? We asked rising second-year MBA students to check in from their summer internships, where they are applying the lessons of their first year at Yale SOM.

Hilary Gridley SOM '17

Internship: Innovation Scale and Partnerships at Nike in Portland, Oregon
Home Country/State: Washington, D.C.
Favorite SOM class: Innovator, Customer, Competitor

The Innovation Scale and Partnerships team at Nike works externally and internally to create demand for and commercialize technical and business model innovation, pushing the company to double its business with half the impact. I came to SOM because I wanted to combine my background in environmental behavior change with the business skills necessary to help companies effect positive change in the world on a massive scale, so it's truly a perfect fit.

I wanted to work at a company where sustainability is baked into its growth strategy rather than considered an afterthought; where constrained resources are seen as an opportunity rather than a risk. At Nike, we're not just asking how sustainable innovation can reduce costs and impact, but how it can go further to directly improve athletic performance and further the company's mission.

One crucial piece of our work is understanding that to create a future driven by sustainable innovation, we need to tell the right story to a variety of stakeholders. We think critically about how to get different teams on board, from finance to brand to product, as well as how to condition the marketplace to set ourselves up for success. SOM's integrated perspective core helped train me to approach every problem from multiple viewpoints, which has proven crucial.

For example, I'm working on a project to expand Nike Grind, a program that turns worn-out shoes and pre-consumer waste into sports courts, running tracks, and other products. I'm working across Direct-to-Consumer, Brand, Operations, and Finance teams to determine the value of customer participation in the shoe takeback program (both in direct revenue and brand affinity) and to develop a strategy to engage more consumers around the program going forward. Having never worked at a company with more than 100 people, navigating a 55,000-person company to find the right decision-makers has proven no easy task. Still, the opportunity to dive right into the matrix and learn more about so many teams and departments is invaluable.