‘A smile and anything Nike’: Downtime with Sean O’Hollaren

Photo by | Jason Kaplan
Sean O'Halloren,, Nike Forest

Nike’s VP for public and government affairs talks about international travel, the swoosh sartorial style and saying goodbye to the Border Adjustment Tax.

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What I’m Reading
Shoe Dog, by Phil Knight — this time, every word; How the Hell Did This Happen, by P.J. O’Rouke; An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, by Chris Hadfield; The Leadership Gap, by Lolly Daskal; and Oregon House Bill 2017.

What I’m watching
Saturday Night Live, anything on Bloomberg, ESPN, the Velocity Channel, C-SPAN and Jay Leno’s Garage.  Movies: any James Bond, Jason Bourne or Will Farrell. Anchorman stands out as a favorite.

skateboardSean O’Hollaren, Skateboard King             Photo By | Jason Kaplan

When I’m not working …
Classic sports cars, fine red wine — not combined. Skiing, snowboarding, skateboarding, sailing, cycling, running, Willamette University and the Oregon Transportation Commission. [O’Hollaren is one of the commissioners.]

Last week, skiing on Mt. Hood, I ruptured a disc in my back and couldn’t feel my leg for a few days — not to mention the literal pain in the ass. 

Oregon lawmakers pulled themselves together to pass a transportation package.  
It is very encouraging that the Oregon legislature worked on a bi-partisan, bi-cameral basis and passed a long-term transportation bill. They took seriously the maintenance needs, seismic concerns, transit, Portland congestion, bike and pedestrian, transparency and accountability, and passed a transportation package with the Governor’s support. 

Now, the hard part. We have to execute and deliver. 

Must have gadget
The Nike Apple iWatch paired to the iPhone. My digital tire pressure. Nike+ Run Club update, America’s Cup, Tour de France, Formula 1, Twitter — to follow Donald Trump.

No place like …
Washington, D.C. gets a bad rap, but it’s a very diverse city with a lot to offer. Annapolis, Maryland is right up there — “a drinking town with a sailing problem.” Vancouver, B.C., Singapore, Buenos Aires, Dublin, London, Istanbul — all so international, great culture and food.   

Family traditions
We eat breakfast.  Beyond that, skiing at Christmas break and Labrador retrievers.

A recent notable vacation
Krabi, Thailand. Amazing people and culture, stunning scenery and great food.


Trump Administration trade and tax objectives aren’t exactly favorable to the Nike business model.
We have always found a path to success. Nike has created thousands of jobs and made massive investment — all operating under the current antiquated tax and trade laws. Regardless of who is in elected office, we will always advocate for free trade and tax laws that promote business growth. The current global geo-political volatility inspires us to keep advocating for modernization of tax, trade and other laws. “Evolve Immediately” is relative in the public policy domain.  

Your top legislative priorities
Saying good bye to the Border Adjustment Tax being proposed by the U.S. House of Representatives. Beyond that: Tax reform that lowers corporate rates, broadens the base and repatriates foreign source income. Free trade agreements. Advocating physical activity. 

How I get around
On foot, bike, skateboard, sailboat, MAX, chairlift. Any number of manual shift cars.    

Business role model
Mark Parker, Phil Knight, Dave Cote, Sen. Mark O. Hatfield, Sec. Norm Mineta.  All have had me under their employ and still continue to educate and inspire.

Best part of the job
Definitely responding to e-mail fundraising requests. Seriously, it’s working with a diverse and talented group of people around the world and a culture of constant innovation.

Tell us about your Nike sartorial style.  What do you wear to the office?
A smile and anything Nike. My fancy suits are 90% retired.  It is assumed that anyone who shows up at the Nike Campus in a suit and tie works for government. My paradigm shift was to wear jeans and Nike Skate Board shoes. Button down shirts are still common attire for me, and that is considered “overdressed” at Nike.          

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