Speaker Snapshot: Lillian Bautista, Director Strategy At Adidas

Moving a strategy from PowerPoint slides to real-world actions


Ahead of her presentation at the Strategic Planning Innovation Summit in London this October 19th & 20th, we spoke to Lillian Bautista, Director, Strategy at Adidas.

Lillian is a Director with the Strategy team at Adidas, leading a variety of strategic projects and contributing to strategic planning for the Adidas brand and Group. Her prior role with Adidas was the Head of HR Strategy, designing and implementing people strategies across 55,000 employees globally. Prior to joining Adidas, she spent several years as a consultant for Fortune 500 companies and US Government agencies, with specializations in consumer research, program design, and change management. Lillian received an MBA from ESADE Business School in Barcelona, Spain, and completed undergraduate study in Socio-Cultural Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley.

How did you get started in your career?

I started as a kindergarten teacher! (Those skills still help me in the business world) I moved to consulting, firstly with government agencies and then with corporations, and eventually landed in the industry, working for a great company and great brand: Adidas.

How do you think the role of a strategist is changing?

It’s more important than ever for strategists to make a strategy understandable, accessible, and actionable for all employees of a company, at all levels. It’s no longer an elite few who need to know the strategy of a company – business moves at such a fast and changing pace that employees need to be empowered to make decisions for the company based on a solid understanding of strategy. Strategists must be able to move a strategy off a PowerPoint presentation into real-world actions.

What are the most common mistakes planners make when creating a strategy?

'Blind spots' can be critical threats to strategy – these can take many forms, for example, being blind to market realities or not seeing their consequences all the way through, new entrants to your industry, and underestimating competitive situations. It’s important that when creating a strategy, you kick the tires and road-test assumptions with critically constructive colleagues across functions. Only then you can truly see the broad landscape of the future from different perspectives, and craft a strategy with those considerations in mind.

How important is strategic collaboration nowadays?

It depends on how far you are setting your sights. If your defined strategy is fully executable within your portfolio of competencies, then perhaps, collaboration isn’t as important as those companies whose strategies aim bigger or broader, and who need to look outside their company’s assets and competencies, find collaborators who share the same vision.

How do you ensure your long term plans are reactive to disruption?

I would go a step further to say that one shouldn’t only be reactive to disruption, but you should do all you can to anticipate the disruption – be constantly scanning for disruptive threats in your competitive environment and have a strategic process that can take in new bits of market developments and adjust course if necessary.

You can hear more from Lillian and other industry leaders at the Strategic Planning Innovation Summit, taking place in London this October 19th & 20th.

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