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Published March 8, 2010
When Bastien Renard joined Nike in 1997, he never imagined the company would become a final destination. He saw it as a layover on his path to a job in action sports.
That all changed when Nike added a new action sports line in 2005. Now, the 35-year-old Renard, who is the global manager of Nike SB, Nike 6.0 and Nike Snowboarding, can’t imagine working anywhere else.
“I always wanted to be in those sports,” Renard said. “I wasn’t planning to stay long, but then came this really incredible opportunity. I love it.”
Renard has had a lifelong passion for action sports. He grew up in Paris and spent his summers surfing along the coast of Spain and Portugal and his winters snowboarding in the French mountains.
After studying business in England and France, he joined Nike as an intern. He spent a few years in the company’s Amsterdam office before moving to Portland in 2002 to work on a lifestyle line. His move coincided with the company’s push into action sports, and he wound up getting pulled into the launch of a new apparel line that drew its influence from action sports but targeted a broader consumer base.
The line became known as Nike 6.0 for the six major action sports — surf, skate, snow, moto, BMX and wake. The company, whose past efforts to enter action sports had failed, decided to build the brand from the ground up by signing young unknown athletes rather than stars like Shaun White and Kelly Slater. Its gamble paid off when 15-year-olds like BMX rider Dennis Enarson, now 18, became stars.
Those decisions turned Nike’s action sports lines into some of the fastest-growing divisions at the company. With Renard at the helm, the company’s visibility in action sports continues to grow and its future is promising.
“He’s masterfully crafted their strategy and been patient, smart and aggressive all at the right time,” said Wade Martin, the president of Alli and the Dew Tour. “He doesn’t look at sports through the lens of what’s good for Nike. He looks at it through the lens of, ‘What’s good for action sports will be good for Nike.’”