GRAND RAPIDS, MI – With more than 200 digital commerce searches each year, is the leading contingency-based executive search firm serving the, Ad:Tech, and IR-500 communities. To opt-in to our popular “Ecommerce Job of the Day” email, click here. To invite Harry Joiner to connect on LinkedIn, use

One of the coolest VP Ecommerce jobs this year!

We are working with Wolverine Worldwide in their search for a VP Global Ecommerce based in Grand Rapids, MI. Few companies can say they have the world at their feet, both literally and figuratively. As a global marketer of branded footwear, as well as apparel and accessories, this saying not only speaks to Wolverine Worldwide’s focus, but also to its bright future. Among the first in its industry to realize the global potential of its brands, Wolverine Worldwide has a diverse business model that spans 200 countries and multiple categories.

HARRY’S COMMENTS: Sometimes, it’s useful to think of my job as like being a Blackjack dealer: Occasionally, a reputable client will come to me and say “We’ve had this search open for a little while, and we’ve vetted some rock stars. If candidates were hands in Blackjack, we think we’ve been dealt a couple of 20s … maybe a 21. But we’re not sure, and our CEO wants to know what else is out there. Hit us!” There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just plain smart. When you’ve got an important role to fill, you want to be absolutely sure that you seen the best and brightest candidates available in the market.

So it is with this search.

If you are reading this and you’ve already applied for this job, fear not: You are still in play until the client tells you otherwise. However, the kitchen just got a whole lot hotter! May the best person win … 😉

Now then: This is a massive role being vacated by Jodi Watson [@jodiw], who was recently promoted to President, Consumer Direct. In her new role, Jodi will be responsible for all direct to consumer operations for the company, including stores and ecommerce. Jodi is a consumer centric executive with a proven track record of success. She’s an excellent leader and a passionate student of the industry. It’s not a stretch to say that Jodi brings that passion to Wolverine Worldwide’s consumers and brands, and she’s the perfect person to help Wolverine Worldwide strengthen the emotional connection its consumers have with its vast array of brands.

It’s not uncommon for candidates to ask me how seriously a client takes ecommerce. Obviously, Wolverine Worldwide takes it seriously enough to promote its digital A-players into officer level roles. I’m not sure it gets any better than that. If you want to ply your trade in a place where your accomplishments will be recognized by the company’s top brass, look no further. Wolverine Worldwide is your kind of place …

Wolverine Worldwide is one of the largest, most successful companies you’ve never heard of. Wolverine Worldwide is a 130+ year-old manufacturer of footwear that is now the 3rd largest footwear company in the world, only behind Adidas and Nike. Certainly, you have heard of Wolverine Worldwide’s brands, including Merrell, Saucony, Sperry Top-Sider, Keds, Hush Puppies, Chaco, Sebago, Wolverine, and more. The firm also manufactures shoes under license from Caterpillar, Patagonia, and Harley-Davidson.

Since 2004, Wolverine Worldwide has grown at 7% annually, year in / year out. That includes the great recession, which proves that the firm’s brand model – while complicated – can deliver in any economic environment. On the road to $4 billion in sales, Wolverine Worldwide has identified a number of “white spaces” where it can grow. For example, only 30% of Wolverine Worldwide’s pairs are sold to women – yet women buy a lot more footwear than men. Given Wolverine Worldwide’s ability to execute bolt-on acquisitions of lifestyle brands, the company seeks to adjust its customer and marketing mix, both at home and abroad.

Wolverine Worldwide has 16 brands operating in three different groups:

  1. Wholesale;
  2. Apparel and Accessories, and
  3. Consumer Direct.

By the end of 2013, Wolverine Worldwide will be leveraging more than 1,000 years of brand equity across 11,000 dedicated points of sale around the world. Digital will play a critical role in the realization of that vision.

About the industry

Companies in the footwear manufacturing industry make athletic, casual, and dress shoes as well as boots, sandals, and slippers. Major companies include NIKE, Skechers USA, and Timberland, Adidas, Asics, and Puma. Wordlwide, the industry generates roughly $85 billion in export revenue, and the US manufacturing industry consists of about 250 manufacturers with sales of about $2 billion.

Demand is driven by fashion and demographics, and the profitability of individual companies depends on their ability to design and market attractive shoe models. Big companies have economies of scale in distribution and marketing. Small companies can compete successfully through superior design or marketing. Wolverine Worldwide has the scale of a giant and the design chops of companies a tenth its size. Innovation is in the firm’s DNA.

About the job

Your success in this role will be critical for Wolverine Worldwide to accomplish its revenue growth objectives. Also, the role has a significant impact on the positioning of the firm’s brands and direct to consumer formats. As VP of Global Ecommerce, you’ll have P&L accountability for 12 brands, with operational oversight for 60 websites and 20 mobile sites. You’ll set the direction for digital commerce for a vast portfolio of global brands, each with a different strategy – and each with different customers having unique needs and values.

There’s so much going on in this position!

The firm needs a strong ecommerce leader capable of coaching, developing, managing, and motivating a team and a dynamic, fast-paced environment. You’ll need to possess a great deal of strategic agility, which will allow you to identify new growth opportunities, develop hard-hitting business cases, and cultivate executive buy-in. Just as important, you must possess the ability to lead teams through organizational change with grace and professionalism.

As part of our intel packet for this search, we’ve collected a long laundry list of ecommerce “functional areas” (like email and mobile) where you will need to make an impact. For competitive reasons, I can’t share those here, but I can say that Wolverine Worldwide’s digital commerce goals for 2014/2015 are aggressive. Very quickly, you’ll need to get to know the team and its key business partners, understand the team’s critical projects, and determine what’s needed to bring these projects in on time, on target, and under budget.

Are you the right person for the role?

During these interviews, I’ll be probing for your ability to operate under pressure, prioritize work, and meet multiple deadlines. Additionally, you’ll need excellent interpersonal and relationship building skills along with a proven track record of leadership across functional lines. This is a really big job, and it calls for a strong negotiator and influencer to lead a very diverse group of stakeholders across multiple regions, countries, and lines of business.

We will expect you to be a data-driven, “test-and-learn” innovator who can push the organization to adopt programs that exceed consumer expectations. And you’ll need to be laser focused on Wolverine Worldwide’s customers to gather and translate consumer insights into successful marketing programs.

An established track record of managing complexity is essential.

This position oversees a team that resides in London, Michigan, and Boston. Such a far-flung team requires a leader who can lead in a variety of cultures. Not only will you be required to visit these places and work with these teams, but also you’ll need to influence business partners who reside in these areas. You may find these cultural differences to be very pronounced: Wolverine Worldwide’s Consumer Direct business extends to more than 13 countries with 8 separate languages.

We need a leader who is smart, sophisticated and urbane.

Beyond having the “right” personality, it is essential that Wolverine Worldwide’s new VP of Global Ecommerce have grown up with ecommerce and potentially come from a strong merchandising background. At some point in their career, perhaps they actually did this work, and their upbringing is one of the primary reasons they have become such an expert. Another critical success factor will be that the new VP will have run an ecommerce P&L and knows the ins/outs of gross margin, how to build a business, and fully factor risks and opportunities as would any financial leader.

As usual, we have compiled dozens of pages of industry, company, and job-related intelligence on this search. Candidates, I would strongly encourage you to ask us for this when you apply through us. If you want to know how to drive real value in this role, we’ve got you covered. Managing a candidacy for this role without this intelligence would be like bringing a knife to a gunfight.

Please call me at (404) 281-2025 if you’d like to discuss.


View Harry Joiner's profile on LinkedIn


  • Directly supervises 5-7 and interacts with all Brands in Boston, Michigan, London
  • Oversees and leads diverse, matrixed team of 70+, including MI Consumer Relations
  • Provides leadership and guidance in the development of concepts, strategies, planning, implementation, and coordination of eCommerce activities
  • Leads, writes, and oversees execution of long range planning process and annual budgeting
  • Frequent presenter and influencer of new ideas, budgets, org structure, programs
  • Plans and directs activities resulting in a favorable positioning of the company’s products and/or services to target audience
  • Monitors eCommerce budget and oversees gross margin, SG&A, and operating profit with full P&L accountability
  • Ensures team is functioning efficiently and deliverables are met as appropriate regarding development, maintenance, marketing, merchandising of sites for branded divisions
  • Develops new, and maintains current, effective business relationships with all partners, vendors, stakeholders
  • Oversees and drives innovations within the organization that can be scaled across 16 brand omni-channel portfolio
  • Complete integration efforts of recent acquisition through organizational design implementation and bringing new teams together across geographies/regions
  • Performs duties consistent with the company’s AAP/EEO goals and policies
  • Performs other duties as required/assigned by manager


  • 10-15 years experience in Retail & DTC environment with a proven history in omni-channel leadership (e.g. stores, online, catalog, mobile)
  • 7-10 years in eCommerce environment with strong analytical and data-driven track record, with merchandising experience a plus
  • Global experience a plus – ability to effectively work and communicate with multiple regions across time zones, with strong understanding of the trends in the global marketplace
  • Ability to understand back-end technical and database work that supports web site infrastructure
  • Strong analytical background with high intellectual curiosity and openness
  • Ability to build strong working relationships across business lines
  • Demonstrated computer skills; strong knowledge of internet marketing programs, including but not limited to SEO, SEM, Affiliates, Remarketing
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills
  • Good organization skills and a strong sense of detail
  • BA/BS required. MBA preferred.
  • Frequent travel between Boston/Grand Rapids/Europe required.


PS – If you’re thinking about changing jobs this year (though us or anyone else), you might want to check out this post on why even TOP candidates get rejected.

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