Sports Managers: Interview with former CEO of Salomon

sports managers

Interview taken from Dauphiné Libéré, March 2015 edition, written by Isabelle DAVIER.

Among leading sports managers in the industry of sport and outdoor is Jean-Luc Diard, former CEO of Salomon, current CEO of Hoka One One and President of the Outdoor Sports Valley. To unite, represent and contribute to the development of companies in the outdoor sports industry is the ‘raison d’être’ of the Outdoor Sports Valley (OSV). Meet the Company Director who successfully united those around him to make the Outdoor Sports Valley a unique and successful model…

Profile of Jean Luc Diard

sports managers

Jean-Luc Diard. Image by Nicolas Cosica, Filière Sport

1957: Born in Albertville. Graduate of École Supérieure de Commerce, Paris in 1981.

1981-2008: During this time, Jean-Luc joined Salomon as an intern, becoming the CEO in 1998, remaining at the head of the organisation for 10 years.

2008-2009: Jean-Luc became Vice President of Technica Europe, whilst creating Hoka One One, a brand of running shoes, which very quickly attracted beginners to start running. He employs 13 people, with a turnover of $48 million in 2014.

2009: He participated in the creation of the Outdoor Sports Valley in 2009, which formally became an Association in 2010, then labelled as an ‘Industry Cluster’ in 2011. He has chaired the Association ever since.

Jean-Luc, did your passion for the mountains and the snow steer you towards working for Salomon?

I joined Salomon in 1981 as an intern in the marketing department as part of my degree at École Supérieure de Commerce in Paris. Then I did my military service at Salomon, seconded to Austria for two years. When I returned to Annecy, I worked as Marketing Assistant before Georges Salomon entrusted me with a skiing project.

You then climbed to the top of the ladder?

In 1989, I was managing the marketing of winter sports. Then I worked on a development project outside of winter sports. Georges Salomon and Jean-François Gauthier then entrusted me with managing the development of the Salomon brand in 1997, before the takeover by adidas and the restructuring. In 1998, Jean-François Gauthier, who was leaving, put me forward for the role of CEO.

Why was 2008 a year of change for you?

I left Salomon in 2008 because my position had been eliminated by Amer Sports. I was tempted by an entrepreneurial adventure, which materialised in the creation of Hoka One One (innovative running shoes, 500,000 pairs sold in 2014!) At the same time, I took the role of Vice President of Tecnica. The following year, the Outdoor Sports Valley adventure started. The entrepreneurial process and associative approach have different economic aspects: one is about building revenue and the other is about giving my time. Both are exciting.

Is independence the strength of Outdoor Sports Valley?

Outdoor Sports Valley is a combination of a good understanding of the strengths of the region and a vision that surpasses winter sports. It’s about building the economies and the leaders of tomorrow, whilst avoiding mistakes with corporate governance, with sizes varying from 1 to 1 thousand employees. The Board of Directors, there are credible people, who aren’t doing this for a salary.

How is the Outdoor Sports Valley Association doing with its projects?

Training is on track. We set the bar high, starting from Bac +5. After creating the educational content, we created a recognised degree, which EMLYON Business School validated – (discover the MSc in Sports Industry Management, a programme focusing on sports and outdoor industry management in France and China, in partnership with the Outdoor Sports Valley.) And the people of Portland (USA), a city considered among the giants of the sports industry, were interested in a partnership. What made the training very engaging was that companies were willing to hire interns. The Human Resources platform also works very well. 600 job offers have already been posted online, which is about 5 per day. It has become the HR portal of the sports industry… And we strengthened our presence at two major events; Outdoor Friedrichshafen and ISPO in Munich, where OSV accompanies businesses. The next step is the US, and then Asia.

Jean-Luc Diard’s interview featured in the March 2015 edition of Dauphiné Libéré, a daily newspaper distributed in the Rhone-Alpes region. 

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