Nike execs explain why VP left over son’s sneaker business

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Nike honchos faulted a former executive whose son runs a sneaker-flipping business for showing “poor judgment” before she resigned even though she didn’t violate any company policies, a new report said.

Nike CEO John Donahoe and president Heidi O’Neill revealed more details about the departure of ex-VP Ann Hebert to employees earlier this week, according to Complex.

Hebert ended her 25-year career with Nike last week after Bloomberg Businessweek found that her son, Joe Hebert, was behind West Coast Streetwear, which buys coveted sneakers from Nike and other brands and then resells them online.

Donahoe addressed the shakeup in a company meeting on Monday, saying the revelation had affected Nike’s reputation with consumers, according to Complex, which reviewed a recording of the meeting.

Ann Hebert's departure as Nike VP after a 25-year career was addressed by Nike CEO John Donahoe (pictured) and president Heidi O'Neill.
Ann Hebert’s departure as Nike VP after a 25-year career was addressed by Nike CEO John Donahoe (pictured) and president Heidi O’Neill.
Mike Blake/Reuters

“The fact of the matter is, this incident has sparked questions in some of our consumers about whether they can trust us, particularly around launch product,” Donahoe reportedly said.

O’Neill, who oversees Nike’s consumer and marketplace division, said the company launched an internal probe of Hebert’s relationship with her son’s business after getting a media inquiry about it, Complex reported.

Ann Hebert's name was reportedly on a credit card account used by her son's business.
Ann Hebert’s name was reportedly on a credit card account used by her son’s sneaker-flipping business.
Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

The review determined Hebert had not “explicitly violated company policies,” O’Neill reportedly said, adding that Hebert first disclosed what her son was up to in 2018.

Hebert also checked in with her previous boss as her son’s business grew, but she did not give O’Neill sufficient updates after she took over as Hebert’s manager, according to Complex.

“To be clear, we believe that Ann demonstrated poor judgment. However, we made the decision to not take corrective action against Ann,” O’Neill reportedly said on the call. “That decision was based on the information that we had at the time of the review.”

“Following media reports, we had a more complete understanding than what we did when the review was conducted a few months ago and, together with Ann, we decided that it was best for her to resign,” she added.

“The fact of the matter is, this incident has sparked questions in some of our consumers about whether they can trust us, particularly around launch product,” John Donahoe reportedly said.
“The fact of the matter is, this incident has sparked questions in some of our consumers about whether they can trust us, particularly around launch product,” John Donahoe reportedly said.
Visual China Group via Getty Images

Hebert — whose name was reportedly on a credit card account used by her son’s business — has been replaced by Sarah Mensah as Nike’s vice president and general manager for North America, the company said Tuesday.

Nike did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday, and Hebert did not immediately reply to a LinkedIn message.

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