Purpose Strategy Expert, Former Head of Global Purpose Strategy at Adidas

Kathy Varol
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Kathy Varol At A Glance:

Kathy is an expert at driving profit with purpose. She created the Global Purpose Strategy for adidas, a $22 billion company, encompassing everything adidas does to positively impact People and Planet. Now Kathy helps her clients use purpose to stand out in a competitive environment, attract the best talent, gain consumer loyalty, and fully harness the innovative brain power of their employees. She shares her deep knowledge and “how to” with clients, so they can skip the hard lessons and go straight to strategies that work.

Kathy built the global purpose strategy for Adidas, a 22-billion dollar company. Now Kathy shares her knowledge with audiences on how to embed a purpose into their company to stand out in a competitive environment, attract the best talent, drive employee engagement, gain enviable consumer loyalty, and fully harness the innovative brainpower of their employees.

Kathy is called a “force for change” and a “transformative storyteller.” The global purpose strategy Kathy built for Adidas encompassed everything Adidas does to positively impact people and the planet, including: 

  • A holistic sustainability strategy that further established adidas as a leader in retail sustainability, and inspired an army of loyal brand advocates to join a movement to end plastic waste.
  • An impactful social equality strategy that provided access to sport for girls around the globe, developed new products, and initiated bold corporate actions to stand against inequality (including equal bonus pay for Women’s World Cup winners, and supporting the fight for racial justice in the USA).
  • A progressive Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) strategy that fostered a culture of inclusion, collaboration, and continuous improvement with internal processes, metrics, and accountability.

This Global Purpose strategy created impact. A thorough assessment by S&P in 2021 awarded adidas an ESG score of 85, placing the company among the top 10% rated by S&P Global Ratings. 

Kathy started her career as a bright-eyed idealist, joining the Peace Corps straight out of college. Along her journey, the idealist combined with her inner strategist, creating a catalyst for good. Now Kathy has 20 years of experience in brand marketing, strategy, and impact, working at established brands like adidas, MillerCoors, and Microsoft.

Kathy is a sought-after speaker, Purpose Strategy Expert, and CSR & ESG consultant who has spoken and led workshops around the globe. She shares her knowledge with audiences on how to embed a purpose into their company in order to transform their culture, their business, and impact the world.

Kathy also hosts the “Purpose and Profit” podcast, where she interviews some of the most innovative business leaders using business as a force for good. The “Purpose and Profit” podcast is rated in the top 2.5% of podcasts globally.

  • Profit With Purpose. Become Remarkable. Accelerate Growth.

    How do you stand out in an increasingly competitive marketplace? How do you attract top talent? How do you increase profitability?

    You do something remarkable. Purpose makes brands remarkable.

    ​As consumers, we're putting our dollars toward companies with aligned values. 85% of millennials in the United States would switch brands for a good cause, and 50% of growth in consumer goods went to sustainability-marketed products between 2013 and 2018.

    As employees, we’re looking for meaning in our careers, and the best talent is choosing to work for organizations that feed their hearts as well as their bank accounts. 92% of millennials believe that working for an environmentally and socially responsible company is important.

    In the modern world, companies without a purpose beyond profit will be left behind. You can either be a pioneering force for good in your industry, or the disrupted.

    Kathy built the global purpose strategy for adidas, a 22 billion dollar company, encompassing everything adidas does to positively impact people and planet. Through trial and error, Kathy has learned what works, and what doesn't.

    Through her work, a model emerged.

    A way to successfully use purpose to drive profit.

    In the Drive Profit with Purpose keynote, Kathy will reveal her 4-step Brand Purpose Model to engage your organization, inspire innovation, and win the hearts of your consumers.


    You Will Learn:
    •7 common mistakes in creating a purpose-led organization
    •Why a corporate social responsibility department won't get you the impact - or the credit - you want
    •How to get the best talent knocking on your door and have the most engaged employees
    •Why doing good is the magic bullet to get the most powerful form of advertising (for free!)

    This Keynote Is Perfect For Leaders And Companies:
    •Competing in a crowded market
    •Creating differentiation through marketing, ingredients, and/or process
    •Struggling with a talent shortage, high turnover, and/or high employee disengagement
    •Looking to accelerate growth and increase ROI (in a sustainable way)​
    •Ready to unlock the innovative brain power of their employees
  • Lead The Future Of Your Industry By Mastering ESG

    At its core, ESG (environmental, social, governance) is about fixing what’s broken in business, fueling efficiency, equality, and integrity. And guess what? It’s a goldmine for resilience and profitability.

    An effective ESG strategy future-proofs the business strategy.

    From 2011 to 2018, the proportion of S&P 500 companies reporting on their sustainability efforts, corporate social responsibility activities, and ESG performance increased from just under 20% to 86%.

    ESG has become an expected way of operating, and you don't want to get left behind.

    Kathy helps businesses create an effective ESG strategy that moves beyond a feel-good exercise and drives real change across the metrics that matter to their business. In this keynote, through captivating stories and real-world business examples, Kathy will reveal a step-by-step process that will help your company set the ESG gold standard for your industry.

    You Will learn:
    •Kathy’s 4-step process that will take your company from zero to an ESG strategy that leads the future of your industry
    •Why an effective ESG strategy can help your company become a trusted leader in your industry
    •How to determine which ESG topics (and metrics) are the right ones for your business
    •How to establish a symbiotic relationship between your ESG strategy and a business-integrated purpose
    •The secret to achieving seemingly impossible ESG moonshots

    This Keynote Is Perfect For Leaders And Companies:
    •Just starting their ESG journey
    •Who feel overwhelmed by the vast catch-all ESG can stand for
    •Need help identifying and focusing on the ESG topics that matter to their company
    •Who want to be a leader and set the gold-standard in their industry
  • Unlock Exponential Results by Nurturing Purpose, People and Culture

    Data clearly shows that businesses that nurture their purpose, people, and culture unlock exponential results: engaged employees, loyal consumers, increased innovation, and accelerated growth.

    In this keynote, through captivating business stories, Kathy will share why shifting the focus from your output (revenue) to your inputs (purpose, people, and culture) will drive better results. Kathy will also share concrete strategies you use right away to nurture each of these business inputs.

    You Will learn:
    •The toxic beliefs that have infected workplace cultures (and how to shift them)
    •How the world’s most loved companies use purpose to cultivate enviable consumer loyalty (and how you can too)
    •The secret sauce to creating a world-class culture
    •How to enable your employees to truly shine (and innovate!)
    •The one force more powerful to your profitability than any business model

    This Keynote Is Perfect For Leaders And Companies:
    •Competing in an increasingly crowded market and struggling to stand out
    •Experiencing high turnover, and/or high employee disengagement
    •Struggling to foster collaboration across company silos and departments
    •Running into groupthink and “yes men” cultural conformity
  • Skyrocket Innovation By Harnessing The Superpower Of Diversity

    Diversity is one of the most vital qualities for organizations that want to lead their industries.

    Research shows that diversity can promote problem-solving and innovation. Culturally and ethnically diverse companies are more likely to outperform their competitors by 33%; highly diverse teams are 13 times more likely to have engaged employees; and companies with above-average diversity have 19% higher innovation revenues.

    Unfortunately, most businesses unintentionally create barriers to collaboration and stifle the innovation potential they have waiting to be unleashed across their workforce. They incentivize groupthink, and constrain the power of diversity - the superpower of their workforce.

    In this keynote, Kathy will reveal how business leaders can harness the superpower of their diverse workforce to skyrocket innovation.

    You Will Learn:
    •How adidas leveraged the entire North American team to innovate a turnaround for their running business
    •The most common unintentional barriers to collaboration and creativity (and how you can remove them)
    •Unconventional and innovative ways to get diversity in the room
    •How to promote sharing of unique viewpoints and avoid groupthink
    •Why the trickiest problems are often solved by outsiders to the field

    This Keynote Is Perfect For Leaders And Companies:
    •Struggling to foster collaboration across company silos and departments
    •Running into groupthink and “yes men” cultural conformity
    •Using the old playbook year after year, and no longer getting the same ROI
    •Know they could do more to cultivate a culture where their talented and diverse employees can shine
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Kathy is a force for change. An inspiring speaker that energized us to aim higher, while sharing the tools to implement change. Kathy is a natural connector of people, and infectiously optimistic in the power of innovation to create the future.

— Alexa Andersen, Senior Director, Lululemon

I've been to a lot of these conferences over the years and Kathy Varol was by far my favorite speaker.

— Jeremy Cullifer, CGA Strategic Conference

Kathy has the extraordinary ability to translate complex data points into accessible, transformative storytelling. She has a passion, presence and the ability to bring the audience along on the journey. Kathy is a motivator, thought leader and impactful strategist.

— Ayesha Martin - Sr. Director adidas

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