Andrea Fairchild remembers the moment in Brazil as though it was yesterday. “It was early in my career and I was traveling with Nike as the company was preparing for the World Cup,” she recalled. “It was scary and daunting — the kind of situation I’d never been in. I’ll never forget stepping into a room with very senior marketers and explaining my point of view, even though I absolutely felt out of my depth.”
The feeling of acute discomfort and uneasiness she felt might have kept another junior marketer silent or have been suppressed and forgotten with the passage of time, but Fairchild keeps a special space in her mind she can “call up” when she needs to because, as she explains in the podcast, it reminds her of a very important leadership lesson.
“Sometimes you have to break yourself to make yourself,” Fairchild said. “When you put yourself in an uncomfortable place and view it from a place of humbleness, it almost always leads to a sense of confidence and pride in the end. I’ve always taken that experience with me to remind me when I need to step up.”
The meeting in Brazil wasn’t the first time Fairchild had learned a great lesson from stepping out of her comfort zone. A former equestrian, softball player, and track athlete, Fairchild stepped in to throw the shot put when no one else in her high school was willing to do so. “We needed to fill that spot,” Fairchild remembered. “And I was the captain and the one my teammates counted on to do what nobody else wanted to do.”
She has stepped up by leaps and bounds and is now one of those senior marketing types that once challenged her to adjust in real time to difficult situations. The senior vice president of global sponsorship strategy at financial services giant Visa, Fairchild spearheads the company’s partnerships with prestigious events like the Olympics, Paralympics, FIFA and the NFL. She currently is playing a leading role in Visa’s sponsorship of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
In the months leading up to the Cup, Fairchild and Visa will launch a marketing campaign based on the premise that “behind every number, there is a story,” bringing the achievements of these world-class athletes to life, while inspiring the next generation of athletes to pursue their dreams.
In the podcast, Fairchild draws on two decades of leadership experience at Gatorade and Nike as well as Visa to show how other leaders can help their teams “break and make” themselves, including:
- Understanding what motivates each individual on your team.
- Encouraging your team to work their way through challenges rather than around them.
- What serving as the president of Kobe Inc. taught her about NBA legend Kobe Bryant’s “mamba mentality.”