In our next installment of Core Careers, we feature industry veteran Philippe Gouzes of Nixon.
Starting as a product manager, Philippe has built a career in the action sports industry over the past two decades and today is GM and VP of Sales for Nixon, EMEA.
Philippe shares his advice, what motivates him, and key lessons he has learned throughout his career.
How did you get started in the industry/what has been your career path?
Philippe Gouzes: Skateboarding, surfing, and snowboarding have always been a part of my life, ever since I was a child. After spending 10 years snowboarding and working at the resorts in the winter and surfing in the summers, I was at a crossroads in my life and ready to make a change.
A friend asked if I had any interest in a product manager position and, without any prior experience, I took the job.
I have since spent the last 23 years working my way through the ranks from product manager and brand manager to business unit manager. My early years were at Rossignol Snowboards running marketing and the product department.
From there I joined Burton as the European Sales Director, eventually moving on to the VP of Sales for the portfolio of brands and finally moving into the role of SVP of International Business overseeing the Asia Pacific zone. Today I am General Manager and VP of Sales for Nixon EMEA.
Why do you think you have succeeded in building a successful career?
Philippe Gouzes: I am very passionate about the culture of the sports that we are selling and with that passion comes commitment and resilience. I believe my passion has given me an edge.
What are three key lessons you have learned during your career?
Philippe Gouzes: 1) Be honest; stay true to who are you and what you are doing. You have to firmly believe that what you are doing is right.
2) Don’t shoot from the hip, be articulate, and stay firm in your decisions.
Don’t do things that are against your beliefs and know when to say no.
3) Stay flexible; embrace change. In action sports, like within many other environments, change is the only thing that is for certain.
Who influenced you early in your career and why?
Philippe Gouzes: Laurent Potdevin and Hermann Kapferer have both played influential roles in my career. As bosses they gave me space to breathe and the support that was needed to do what I thought was best for the brand. They let me do things that I thought were right and they trusted me.
What’s the best advice you have ever received?
Philippe Gouzes: Don’t take it for granted.
Can you name a mistake you’ve made in the past and what you have learned from it?
Philippe Gouzes: I should have put more time into snowboarding and surfing. We have to make mistakes in order to grow, but it is better not to repeat mistakes. So, now I try to surf more.
Is there an accomplishment in your career of which you are most proud?
Philippe Gouzes: I am very proud of building a strong team and accomplishing great things, together as a team. Seeing something great in the individuals on my team or around me, and working with them, helping them grow to become a great professional. Knowing we made great things happen as a team for ourselves and our brand.
What are your thoughts on how the industry has evolved throughout the years?
Philippe Gouzes: The industry has lost a bit of the original irreverence. We are bigger now and with that comes the attraction to people outside of the industry. We went from an underground culture to mainstream and I often wonder, did we handle the transition correctly?
Where can we find you when you are not working?
Philippe Gouzes: Enjoying time with my family and friends. Making turns on snow, water and concrete.