Vada Manager | Leadership lessons from a career of… | Gagen MacDonald

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Vada Manager | Leadership lessons from a career of service

Oct 02, 2023

About Vada Manager

Vada O. Manager, member of APCO Worldwide’s International Advisory Council, is a premier global business and C-Suite strategist with unique expertise in sport and product brand marketing, mergers & acquisitions, crisis management, litigation communication, corporate governance and issues management. Savoy Magazine named Vada to its “Power 300 Most Influential Black Directors” in all three of its editions (2016, 2017 and 2021).​

Mr. Manager manages the diversified investment arm/corporate advisory firm, Manager Global Holdings LLC (which includes the Manager Global Consulting Group LLC) and modest NBA franchise ownership interest via private equity. Prior to founding Manager Global Holdings, he was senior director of global issues management for Nike, Inc., where his broad portfolio of responsibilities included labor practices/global sourcing procedures; marketing communication support for subsidiaries; and crisis management for athletes, product recalls and corporate issues. During his 12-year tenure, in which the company experienced exponential growth, he served on the launch team of and strategized on new business acquisitions such as the Converse and Starter brands. He was among the early architects of Nike’s renewed corporate responsibility strategy and served as a member of the corporate leadership team, Nike’s most highly valued cohort of global executives. He was Nike’s senior crisis and issues strategist on issues such as the Olympics, the World Cup and company response and business resumption after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.​

Prior to joining Nike, Mr. Manager was senior manager of global communications for Levi Strauss & Co, providing strategic communication counsel to the global leadership team as the company successfully launched and expanded its Dockers and SLATES brands. He was also a vice president at Powell Tate, where he co-managed accounts for key clients such as the PGA Tour, Major League Baseball and Court TV. While there, he also consulted the African National Congress in their transition to power in South Africa under newly elected President Nelson Mandela with sponsorship from the Kaiser Family Foundation.​

Earlier in his career, Mr. Manager served as vice president of public finance for a NYSE investment banking firm (acquired by Wedbush Securities) and as a senior communication professional on the team administering the Democratic National Convention (1992, 1996 and 2004) and the Commission on Presidential Debates (1992-1996). In 2023, he added ‘executive producer’ to his body of work for the documentary film: “Stewart Udall & The Politics of Beauty.”​

A frequent presenter on business strategy and his pioneering concept of “issue marketing,” Mr. Manager has appeared on CNN, CNBC and NBC’s The Today Show, and has been quoted in various thought-leading global print publications. He has affiliations with several national and global organizations, including the American Council on Germany; the U.S. Military Academy (West Point) Civilian Public Affairs Committee (chair); the Issue Management Council (chair, 2007-2009); and the Arizona State University Alumni Council. Mr. Manager also serves on the board of directors (Chair, Governance & Nominating Committee) for lubricants company Valvoline Inc. (NYSE: VVV); a pre-IPO commercial unit of Fortune 500 Ashland, Inc., a specialty chemical company.​

Mr. Manager holds a Bachelor of Science from the Arizona State University and is an inductee in its Hall of Fame (College of Liberal Arts, 2000) and member of its Board of Trustees. He also undertook post-graduate (non-degree) study at the London School of Economics.

About Let Go & Lead

Let Go & Lead is a leadership community created by Maril MacDonald, founder and CEO of Gagen MacDonald. Maril brings together provocateurs, pioneers, thought leaders and those leading the conversation around culture, transformation and change.

Over the course of the past 12 years, Let Go & Lead has existed in many forms, from video interviews to resource guides to its current iteration as a podcast. At its core, it remains a place where people can access a diversity of perspectives on interdisciplinary approaches to leadership. Maril is also working on a book incorporating these insights gathered over the past several years from global leaders and change makers.

Maril has interviewed over 120 leaders — from business to academia and nonprofits to the arts — through the years. In each conversation, from personal anecdotes to ground-breaking scientific analysis, she has probed the lessons learned in leadership. From these conversations, the Let Go & Lead framework has emerged. It is both a personal and organizational resource that aims to serve the individual leader or leadership at scale.

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