I n the fast-paced business world, corporations value “self starters” — highly motivated people who recognize opportunities and pursue them with a passion. These individuals and teammembers thrive in dynamic work environments, especially those that encourage their creativity and zeal. Jordan Rice, a 2002 graduate of Bucknell University and Director of Sensing Innovation at Nike, is not just a self-starter — he’s a dynamo. Since graduating with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering, Rice has combined a strong technical knowledge with a variety of personal skills. He has built a burgeoning career in the development of cutting-edge technology products. With a genuine enthusiasm for tackling new challenges and getting things done, he is an exemplary role model for aspiring engineers. “I chose Bucknell because of its liberal arts emphasis,” Rice says. “I wanted to be a well-rounded engineer and not see things as just engineering problems. I loved my engineering education, but it was good to have that holistic approach. Some of my favorite classes weren’t even in the engineering school.” Learning to work effectively in teams is another aspect of the college experience that Rice finds to be extremely valuable. “During my time at Bucknell, there was a shift toward more group, team, and project-based learning,” he says. “Effectively applying engineering design to real-world problems was a huge takeaway for me. One of the reasons I think team and project- based learning is so important is because as soon as you leave college, that’s what you do — you work in teams to solve consumer problems.” Team functionality is critical to success at Nike, where Rice found the corporation’s non- traditional structure and intrapreneurial spirit especially appealing. “I was hoping to move to a company that was truly innovative and clearly committed to bold thinking,” he says. “I chose Nike because they have innovation in their DNA and a matrix structure that is not linear top to bottom. This means we have a strong focus on working cross- functionally on projects with hugely experienced and diverse teams. I can’t say every time, but more often than not, the best idea takes prominence and the best solution wins for the athlete.” At Nike, Rice uses the matrix structure to create teams of talented individuals who work well in concert. It’s one reason why Rice excels in project management. “When putting a team together, I ask for systems level people who view problems broadly and have complementary areas of expertise,” he says. “I look for people who think about solutions holistically and understand how what they are doing impacts other people’s jobs. They need to be good communicators, because working on a team requires the ability to express ideas. It’s perennially important to find people who play well together in the sandbox and who are also super creative and technically skilled.” Successful teams continually evaluate their progress and their focus, Rice notes. “Whether a team is within a big company or a small one, staying focused is by far the key to success. Often, teams have unlimited opportunities but limited resources. As team leader, you have to consider that for every resource and every hour you expend, you’re making a bet. And if you’re wrong, the odds of success decrease. Therefore you have to constantly ask, ‘Is this the right decision I ammaking? Am I moving forward? Am I staying focused? Am I applying my resources toward the goal at hand in the most efficient way?’” New engineers will often ask Rice for advice. He challenges them to seek opportunities that lead to personal growth. “Don’t be afraid to get in a little over your head, to find a role where you’re given more responsibility than anybody should logically give you at your age or experience level. It tends to be the fastest path to growth — not necessarily up the corporate ladder or in your paycheck, but growth in your experience and capabilities. Finding those opportunities is what will get you out of bed in the morning because you’ll be challenged. It will be a great learning experience and you’ll be surprised how fast it goes by.” Jordan’s Advice for Students “Take risks and embrace failure. Both are learning mechanisms and should be embedded into the process of forming and building cross-functional teams — these teams tend to win.” “Don’t be afraid to get in a little over your head, to find a role where you’re givenmore responsibility than anybody should logically give you at your age or experience level. It tends to be the fastest path to growth — not necessarily up the corporate ladder or in your paycheck, but growth in your experience and capabilities.” “Any good first job can be a combination of playing to your strengths, but also pushing you outside of those boundaries to an extent that makes you a little uncomfortable. That’s where you make and learn frommistakes.” “The best way to find the right company is to look at the company’s track record as well as by using the interview process as an opportunity to have a two way conversation. You should come out of interviews understanding what is envisioned for your role, how other people within the organization receive their directions, and howmuch of your time can spend on creative exploratory work and trying to uncover new things.” “Reach out to alumni and connections on LinkedIn. You will be surprised how much of their time they will be willing to give you.” The Engineered Sole How education shaped an intrapreneur 1998 Graduated from Red Bank Regional High School in Little Silver, N.J. 1999 Sold music at a record store (ever see the movie Hi Fidelity? Pretty much exactly like that) 1998 Best friend from Bucknell was an Asian Studies/Japanese dual major 2002 Senior team design project was an Autonomous Lawn Mower 2005 After multiple all-nighters, successfully supported an airline industry electronics tradeshow in Germany — even deliberated soldering using the hotel room’s water heater 2015 Returned to Nike as the Director of Sensing Innovation 2013 Started working at Quanttus at VP of Product Development 2010 Started working as a Product Architect for Nike+ 2015 Named on over 15 patents across his career CAREER TIMELINE 1998 Started education at Bucknell — valued liberal arts education and project-based learning Japanese characters for “connections” PATENT NO. US 8,231,506 B2 21 20