I’m a Leader, Not a ‘Female Leader’ — Here’s How I Use My Position to Advocate for Women

Sponsored by DICK'S Sporting Goods

Photo Courtesy of DICK's Sporting Goods.

Photo Courtesy of DICK's Sporting Goods.

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June 21, 2024 at 10:10AM UTC

Lauren Hobart, the President of DICK’S Sporting Goods, is a champion of women. When she’s not empowering employees to provide first-class service to their customers, she’s finding ways to design products for female athletes.

“Our executive team (comprised of males and females) has been pushing hard with our partners to make more products designed specifically for female athletes, as we know there is a gap in the marketplace especially in some footwear and apparel,” she recently shared. 

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Hobart displays her advocacy for women through her active participation with The DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation, where she also serves as President, and works to champion youth sports. She also serves as the executive sponsor of an internal group for new mothers who are transitioning into working motherhood called  the “Mom Squad”. 

Hobart’s “very open” with her team about how she balances work and life, and she recently got very open with us about her No. 1 piece of advice for other women in leadership roles. Take a look below.

How long have you been at DICK’S, and what about it first made you want to join? 

I’ve been with DICK’S for nine years. After an initial meeting with Ed Stack, the company CEO, it was clear that DICK’S was a great company in a dynamic industry and I was convinced that it was an organization that aligned with my goals and values. The leadership team at DICK’S is also very strong with a winning mentality and a bias for action.

Tell us a bit about your job. What’s your current role, how long have you been in this role, and what were you doing previously? 

I joined DICK’S in 2011 as Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. In 2015, I was promoted to Executive Vice President and CMO and later to Executive Vice President, Chief Customer & Digital Officer. I was promoted to President in May 2017.  I have been incredibly fortunate to have so many amazing experiences while at DICK’S.

In the role of President, I oversee the Stores, Marketing, eCommerce, Technology, HR, Legal, Strategy & Analytics organizations. I have also served on the DICK’S Board of Directors since January 2018 and as President of The DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation.

Prior to joining DICK’S, I spent 14 years at PepsiCo in various roles, including CMO of Carbonated Sports Drinks in North America. And prior to PepsiCo, I was at Wells Fargo Bank and at JP Morgan Chase. I served as a member of the Board of Directors of Sonic Corp. from 2014 to 2018.

How has your day-to-day work changed since you became the President of DICK’S? What about your overall approach to work?

The biggest change since becoming President is taking on responsibility for our 40,000 teammates who are out in our stores. Empowering our entire team to provide great service and experiences for our customers is one of my top priorities as I believe our stores are an enormous asset to drive long term customer loyalty.  This has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career, to date.

Managing people — especially if you’re new to it — is not easy. How has your company/your own manager helped set you up for success? 

I have found the best way to manage people is to lead the way you would want to be led, and to stay true to who you are. When I became President, I had a moment where I thought I might have to totally change my style and become more “formal” to live up to the role. I was counseled by my boss (Ed Stack) and by other mentors not to change, but to lean into the strengths that got me to this position. I treasure that advice. 

How is this kind of support reflective of the overall culture at your company? 

We are accepting of many different styles of leadership and people bring many different strengths to their positions and their roles. We have fun and laugh a lot, while working very hard. It’s a great environment for passionate people!  Many of our employees are former athletes; and we embrace (and even encourage) the qualities that many top athletes share.  We are extremely competitive – but not with each other. Rather, we are very collaborative, functioning as a team in every sense of the word, and are incredibly focused on our competitors.  This creates a fun, fast-paced working environment that our talented employees really thrive in.

What opportunities did DICK’S provide that ultimately helped you land your role? 

While at DICK’S, I have had many new (and unexpected) opportunities that helped me develop and ultimately prepare for this role. In fact, one of my favorite things about working at a fast-paced company like DICK’S is you never know what type of new and interesting project is in your future! I led marketing for several years before taking on more P&L ownership with eCommerce and running one of our specialty store concepts. In 2015, one of the biggest moments in my career here was helping to lead the development and launch of CALIA by Carrie Underwood, a private athletic apparel brand that specifically serves women.  It was a passion project for many of us, and one we made significant investment in.  We have been thrilled with the success of CALIA and are proud to have recently celebrated our five-year Anniversary!  

How do you use your role to advocate for women at DICK’S, and with your external partners? 

I feel a responsibility to other women, be it our employees or our customers, to champion issues that are important to us. Our executive team has been working with our private brands and merchandising partners to make more products (like footwear) designed specifically for female athletes. 

We recently held a summit called “Here for Her” where we brought together many female leaders across the sports and media industry to discuss the importance of sports, not only from a development standpoint for young girls, but also the skills they teach us that translate to our professional lives as women.  We also took the opportunity to announce some of our newest sponsorships and grants that are focused specifically on girls, including partnerships with USA Softball and the U.S. Soccer Foundation. 

Additionally, this year, a group of amazing young employees created a group called “Mom Squad” for new moms (and dads) to further the support during those very challenging years which I think is incredibly important. Within our company, I am very open with our team about my family life and what it’s like to be a working mom.

What is your no. 1 piece of advice for other women who are moving into leadership roles? 

Be yourself! Don’t think of yourself as a “female leader” — you are a leader, with every opportunity available to you. 


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