Then read on below to find out how Zebra helped him discover his performance edge off the field:
“I sat in my apartment scrolling through NFLPA Externship opportunities thinking, ’Which company will best equip me for life after football?’ I started to get discouraged as I was nearing the end of the alphabetical list and nothing had jumped out at me. Then, my cursor slammed to a halt. There at the end of the page was the name Zebra Technologies. Intrigued, I investigated further. Two words stuck out to me as I read the company’s boilerplate – “performance edge.” I was sold. As trivial as it seemed, those two words told me all I needed to know. Zebra was on a mission to help workers and companies become the best versions of themselves. As a professional football player, my entire life has been driven by a desire to become the best version of myself. I’ve spent countless hours discerning what my performance edge could be and how I might gain an advantage over the competition. Thrilled, I eagerly applied, and two months later, I was in.
I started crafting a mental list of what I hoped to accomplish and discover during my time with Zebra. The three themes that kept surfacing in my mind were: leadership in a business setting, successful transition from the NFL, and discovering where I could add value. I wasn’t sure if I would actually gain any clarity on these topics, but I figured I had to start somewhere. Hopeful, I hopped onto my first Zoom call and plunged headfirst into the world of Zebra Technologies.
The next three weeks flew by as I slowly, but surely, had all my expectations blown away. As I reflect on the incredible time that I had, I would like to share some of the experiences and knowledge I gained that showed me why Zebra continues to meet and exceed the expectations of its customers.
Zebra is a titan in all of the verticals in which it operates. Its partnerships with companies like Target and Disney are indicative of Zebra’s major presence in the retail industry. When COVID-19 hit and companies struggled to adapt to an online-only retail presence, Zebra went to work creating solutions that helped retail giants stay agile and flexible. Meanwhile, Zebra also continued to help hospitals, doctors, and nurses improve in a setting where human error has grave consequences. In fact, I was shocked to learn that hospital worker error ranked third in causes of death in the United States – only behind heart disease and cancer. Rather than accepting this statistic, Zebra has worked to create solutions that could help change it. From medication barcode labels and scanners, to tracking the location of IV pumps in a hospital, Zebra has created – and continues to create – innovative ways to support those who are focused on the greater good.
In the NFL, Zebra is changing the way football is understood and analyzed. It acquires data using radio frequency identification (RFID) player tracking technology and transforms it into knowledge for coaches and players. The tools Zebra has created have helped propel the NFL into a data-driven future.
Zebra has also maintained its competitive edge by strategically acquiring companies. These companies have added unique tools to Zebra’s impressive portfolio. This was especially evident during its acquisition of Motorola Solutions Enterprise Business in 2014. Very few companies are able to successfully acquire a company that is larger than they are. However, Zebra was able to both accomplish this feat, and thrive because of it. Additionally, in 2019, Zebra acquired Temptime, a time and temperature monitoring solutions extraordinaire. This expert acquisition was incredibly important in the fight against infectious disease, including COVID-19, as many of the vaccines used to control and mitigate the spread are temperature sensitive. Zebra has helped ensure no vaccines are unnecessarily wasted due to presumed temperature excursions during transport, storage or handling by producing smart labels that enable temperatures to be monitored from the time vials come off the production line until doses are administrated at a clinic, pharmacy, grocery store or even stadium parking lot.
The most memorable moment of the entire externship was my meeting with the CEO, Anders Gustafsson. I couldn’t believe that the leader of Zebra would take time out of his busy schedule to meet with an extern! I realized that Zebra has built a company culture that values every single worker. During my meeting with Anders, I really understood why his workers respect him so much and why Zebra has been so successful. As my college coach Nick Saban would say, “What you do speaks so loudly, I can’t hear what you say.” Anders is the embodiment of that quote because he truly leads by example. I want to be in a position where I can lead others, and the advice that I received from Anders is something that will help guide me through the business world.
I’m so thankful that I participated in this externship because it truly helped my professional development. I would like to thank John Bacon, Therese Van Ryne, and Rachel Domingo-Mahnke for guiding me through this entire process. After three weeks, I feel confident and ready to make the leap to the business world after football. The conversations with members of Zebra’s staff were incredibly valuable. I received instruction from leaders in marketing, sales, operations, human resources (HR), public relations (PR), engineering, supply chain, and so much more. To the externs after me, please take advantage of this opportunity! I’m confident that Zebra is the best company to learn from and the best way to spend three weeks of your offseason. Enter every meeting with a curious mind and a desire to learn and you will gain so much from it! Zebra Nation, thank you for helping me find my performance edge, I’m forever grateful!”