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Volume 20 No. 42
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Adrienne Lofton, Under Armour

hen Adrienne Lofton left her job as a marketing manager with global retailer Target to lead the launch of upstart Under Armour’s first women’s line, she was energized by the approach of UA founder Kevin Plank.

Adrienne Lofton
Under Armour // Senior vice president,
global brand management

“Kevin was humble enough to say, ‘I know we need this space, but I don’t know how to build it, help me,’” said Lofton, who played college volleyball and always had hoped to navigate her way back to sports. “He showed me how he thinks. … And then I added my personal touch.”
That personal touch has been evident in the way UA approaches women, as gender rather than category, a subset of the aspiration-driven activewear market. The most recent campaign for UA’s women’s line, dubbed “Unlike Any,” features an eclectic mix of endorsers — including Olympic sprinter Natasha Hastings and skier Lindsey Vonn, but also ballet dancer Misty Copeland and “American Ninja Warrior” star Jessie Graff — set against the backdrop of their stories of overcoming adversity.
“Who she is, actually, is similar to who he is,” said Lofton, who now heads up marketing for not just the women’s line, but the entire UA brand. “This is a determined, hardworking athlete that wants to be their best self. … As long as we can tap into the idea of greatness and inspire athletes to push beyond their perceived limits, it doesn’t matter what gender or age they are.”

— Bill King

  • Where born: Cleveland; raised in Houston.
  • Education: Howard University, B.B.A., business.
  • Attributes I look for when hiring: The ability to be successful in a team-driven environment. And self-awareness.
  • Networking tip I’ve learned: The minute I feel like I’m “networking” is the moment I stop. I try to build true relationships. I hate the word networking, it feels inauthentic.
  • Best advice I’ve received for career development: Focus on your weakness and really lean into it. Find areas where you need to build your strength and get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
  • If I had it to do over again, I would: Find a better work-life balance earlier on. My ongoing challenge in this life is finding time for family and friends, because sport is 24/7. I continue to push myself to improve, but it’s hard.
  • Woman in sports business I’d most like to meet: Dawn Hudson, NFL chief marketing officer. I’ve met her but would love to spend more time with her.
  • Is discussion about challenges women face working in sports necessary or played out? It’s absolutely necessary. The idea that there are not enough women represented in this industry is a truth. It is also surprising that we sit here in 2017 and this is still a necessary conversation. I look around in a boardroom and I don’t always see myself. And it’s beyond the sport industry. I worked in the auto industry. It absolutely exists there as well. You cannot break through these long-term — I’ll call them opportunities — without discussion. I believe a healthy discussion around diversity in sport and leadership is a must.
  • Causes supported: Boys and Girls Clubs. And I also manage the philanthropy team for our company.