Family, Fortitude and Perseverance: Monica Kondos’ Journey to Nike

by | Jan 19, 2022

This spotlight is part of a series of posts to amplify exceptional Latina talent in the workplace and tech industry, in collaboration with our partners. 

Spotlight Partner: Nike 

Featured Talent: Monica Kondos

1. Tell us about yourself, Monica. How did you get to where you are today?

So much of who I am today was directly influenced by my parents’ work ethic and determined mindset. I am a Mexican American who was born and raised in Oregon. I grew up in Ontario, a small town in Eastern Oregon, where my mom’s family resided. My two siblings and I were not raised to speak Spanish; my mom and her siblings were encouraged to speak English to fit in socially even though my grandmother was a Spanish translator at the local prison. Culturally, I was raised to be proud of my Mexican heritage and practice our families’ traditions. Economically, my family was considered lower-class, and we struggled financially but never realized it until I became an adult and recalled stories from my childhood. Throughout the years, my parents’ professions evolved and so did our financial situation which was solely due to their work ethic and determination to make a better life for our family. 

Part of making a better life for our family meant making a bold decision to move us to a bigger city, Portland, where we would all have more opportunity. As a result, I discovered my passion and love for sports, specifically softball. For the next 10+ years I played competitive softball, traveling and competing nationally. I eventually went on to play at Portland State University where I was also awarded a full academic Diversity Achievement scholarship. Obtaining my business degree while playing softball and earning various academic and athletic achievements was another pivotal contributor helping me get where I am today. I learned about the importance of perseverance, mental toughness, pushing my physical limits and the power of teamwork.  

My professional journey started later than I originally expected after becoming a single mother to my first daughter. I started out in the financial industry as an administrative assistant. My drive to provide for my daughter along with my passion to learn and grow was fostered by leaders in the organization who believed in my potential and supported my professional development. Through hard work and a little help from these leaders, I was able to grow quickly within the company and as I celebrated my fifth year there I was faced with a major decision when they were acquired by another institution. I could either move across the country and continue to further my career, far away from my support system, or stay in Portland and follow my childhood dream of working for the greatest sports company: Nike. I was determined to make my dream a reality and decided I would not settle. After months of applying and relentlessly seeking networking opportunities, I landed a temporary contract position. I approached each day as if it were a job interview and looked for impactful ways to improve my work and build strong trusting relationships. After a few months, I was offered a full-time position and have transformed over the past six years to where I am today: a Director of Program Management within the global technology organization.

Fast forward, I am married with two beautiful daughters and still pursuing my passion and dream of working for Nike where I get to help accelerate the digital transformation of our business to deliver exceptional consumer experiences.

 

2. What inspired you to pursue a career in the tech industry?

I didn’t really choose tech, it chose me! When I joined Nike, my role was a Sr. Project Manager for retail infrastructure store openings in North America. I didn’t have a tech background, but I was an experienced PM who was eager to learn and build new skillsets. I was thrust into a team where I quickly learned about tech capabilities and hardware like network servers, handheld mobile devices, internet connectivity, POS systems—the list goes on. This role helped me understand how technology enables the business and powers our immersive digital consumer services and experiences. 

 

3. As a Director, Program Management at Nike, what have been some of the most memorable and impactful projects you’ve worked on so far?

Being a leader who gets to help others grow is what fuels my soul. I have a great team of gifted individuals who continually push me and help me grow. Aside from that, an impactful transformational project I’m proud to have helped launch was Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) scanning capabilities into our Retail stores to improve inventory accuracy and drive data-driven decisions and insights for our consumers.

 

4. What’s one piece of career advice you’ll NEVER EVER forget? 

The best career advice I’ve received and will never forget is to trust my instincts. As I’ve navigated throughout my career, there are times I’ve second guessed myself, waivered when deciding, solving a problem or giving direction to a team, but when I’ve trusted my instincts it resulted in a positive outcome.

 

5. How do you reset when you’re in a funk? (ex: What song do you play? Do you go for a walk? Do you take a nap? Do you call a friend?)

I go for a walk or run without a phone or music to distract me; I like to be in alone with my thoughts to sort through things that are weighing on me. I also make it a habit not to talk about work at home. I prefer to separate my two worlds and be present with my family.

 

6. Is there anyone you’d like to shout out for their support along your career journey? 

Kimberly Borden, one of my previous managers. She believed in me and gave me her trust from the moment I joined her team; she encouraged me as a female leader to have a voice and always provided words of wisdom. I’m most grateful to her for creating a safe place where I could ask questions, learn and, most importantly, fail without the fear of failure. She offered me the support I needed to believe in myself and grow as a leader—she’s truly the best!

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