Spotlight on Women: Melissa Claassen
Chief Financial Officer TaylorMade Golf Company
Chief Financial Officer
TaylorMade Golf Company
Where are you from? I was born in Australia, but I have lived in several countries. I started my adidas career in Australia and moved up through the ranks working in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and, most recently, Germany. My parents were first-generation immigrants from Holland. I grew up speaking Dutch, but now my German is better than my Dutch after spending three years working at adidas headquarters in Germany. English is my third language.
How long have you been in San Diego? I moved here 10 months ago when I was promoted to my current position. Fortunately, my husband, Edo Fuijkschot, is an illustration artist, so he can live and work anywhere. We have a five-year-old daughter, Lana.
How did you advance your career? It was not a planned path for me. It was really being flexible and recognizing opportunities. When I was in Australia, I realized the CFO was going to be there for a while so I decided to look beyond adidas. He suggested that I stay with adidas and look beyond Australia to explore other opportunities. My next move was with adidas global.
Who was your role model? The managing director of adidas group greater China. He encouraged me to learn the marketing side of the business, and then I began to think about how to activate the brand to get some commercial sensibilities. I believe that the “new CFO” is a business partner and copilot, rather than the “numbers cruncher” of the past. As a financial professional I interact with the marketing, product, sales, and retail teams. I see every facet of the business through the numbers.
What obstacles have you had to overcome as a woman? Sports is a male-dominated industry, but I never defined myself as a woman. I am, however, the first woman board member in TaylorMade Golf Company. I think they were more afraid than I was.
What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment? In 2011 I was named one of the Top 50 Australian women leaders at the 50 For The Future, Advance Women’s Leadership Summit. The Honorable Julia Gillard, Australian Prime Minister, addressed the summit. Then in 2012 I was honored with the “Best People Leader,” voted by financial people from around the adidas group.
What else should we know about you? I believe in the financial world it’s all about transparencies. We should present the best information possible. I have been with the company for 18 years. I have to feel the company that I am working for is doing a good thing in supporting their community. Since I moved to San Diego I have joined the EDC board and the YMCA board, plus participating in team-sponsored events.
At the young age of 40, you were promoted to worldwide CFO. Where to from here? My career was built around innovation and challenging the status quo. I am all about moving out of your comfort zone. I have no future plan, just open to all opportunities.