Amongst sneakerheads, Nike’s EKIN program (that is, Nike spelt backwards) has a near-mythical reputation. An EKIN’s reach, access and insight into the world of the Swoosh, not to mention its veil of mystery, is enough to get any fan hot under the collar. And that’s even before the EKIN-exclusive shoes!
Though it may not be quite the secret society that conspiracy theorists would have you believe, EKINs do form an exclusive club within the ranks of the sportswear behemoth. At once story tellers, product gurus, and community leaders, an EKIN’s multidisciplinary work crosses departments, mediums and borders, all the while engaging with their communities and spreading Nike’s message.
Here, London-based EKIN Niamh Coghlan lifts the curtain on what it’s like having one of the best jobs in the world.
So Niamh, tell us, what is the role of an EKIN at Nike?
An EKIN, first and foremost, must put sport at the heart of everything they do. An EKIN’s role can never quite be defined as it’s more about the essence and the feeling we leave people with than product training. If I had to put it into words, I would probably say our role is to be the face of the brand and embody Nike’s values. We do this through telling the stories of Nike to the people we meet and, in turn, sharing the stories of the people we meet back to Nike, so we can continue to be authentic in our mission to the consumers we serve.
It’s truly the best job in the world, and it’s not until you have been an EKIN that you can ever truly understand its role.
How do you become an EKIN? Do you have to be an existing Nike employee?
This is one the greatest kept secrets of our time… kidding! Every EKIN will have a different story, but the one key strand you will find in each is that every EKIN is passionate about making a difference and is proactive in their community.
I was not an existing Nike employee, had never worked for them before, and had never met anyone who had worked at Nike. I was a coach and personal trainer, and fortunate enough to meet some EKINs via them coming to my classes. I spent years getting to know some of them just through living out my passion of getting more people active and, particularly, more women moving.
It was my authenticity and true calling of increasing female participation in training and sport that ultimately led to my role here. In an increasingly crowded marketplace of personal trainers and coaches in London, I guess I stood out to the Nike team as someone who truly cared and had a mission, a mission that was aligned with Nike. Day-to-day as a trainer I could coach maybe 100 people, but here at Nike I have a platform and opportunity to have impact on a much larger scale!
So, it’s not the straightforward ‘apply online’ answer you were maybe hoping for, but find your passion and focus on impacting your community and that’s when opportunities like these open up to you.
How does your sporting background influence your role as an EKIN?
For me personally, it was hugely important. It’s how I met the team at Nike and, ultimately, how I got my opportunity to join the company. Beyond my sporting background giving me an entry point to EKIN life, it has been an essential knowledge base to allow me to flourish here. When you have an authentic passion for sport, and you work for a company whose priority is to get more people moving, the synergy is powerful. It allowed me to work on and deliver some of the most impactful and meaningful projects of my life.