Alumni and Friends

Global Nike Manager trusted his gut and OHIO experiences to excel as a strategic comms professional

Ohio University has over 550 student organizations, providing ample opportunities for students to get involved in interest, identity, or career focused endeavors on campus. 

Alumnus Jeffrey Billingslea, BA ’17, took advantage of the abundant student leadership opportunities, and he credits his learning experience at OHIO as a contributor to his professional success at global companies, Volkswagen and Nike. 

“I valued my time at OHIO,” Billingslea said. “I was prepared for the corporate world post-graduation thanks to the diverse educational experiences and leadership opportunities I had from getting involved on campus.”

Growing up in the Washington D.C. metro area, Billingslea was surrounded by politics, sports, media, and culture. Inspired by this unique environment, he pursued his interest in strategic communications and social media that ultimately manifested in his education and extracurriculars at OHIO. 

Billingslea earned a bachelor of arts in political science and government from the College of Arts and Sciences, as well as two certificates in social media and political communications from the Scripps College of Communication in 2017.

Jeffrey Billingslea
Jeffrey Billingslea, Global Manager at Nike

During his time in Athens, he served two years as president of the Black Student Cultural Programming Board (BSCPB), and he served in multiple public relations-focused positions within the Student Senate, Black Student Union, Ohio University Recruiting Society, and Singing Men of Ohio, among many others. 

“There’s an organization for everyone, whether you are more sport-focused, politics-focused, or even interested in other social organizations,” Billingslea said. “There’s so much to do with so many people to meet. I enjoyed having the opportunity to network and build relationships with such a diverse group of individuals.” 

Serving as president of the BSCPB proved to be a highlight of Billingslea’s experiences at OHIO, as his organization was pivotal in coordinating cultural and educational experiences on campus.  During his tenure, he and his team orchestrated events that brought speakers and performers such as Judith E. Leavy, Soledad O’Brien, Aidy Bryant, Maurice Clarett, T-Pain, and Waka Flocka Flame to OHIO and the Athens community.

“What is most beautiful about OHIO is how the administrators, faculty leaders, and professionals help guide your development and give you opportunities to shine” Billingslea said. “I tribute a lot of my foundation and early success to Dr. Winsome Chunnu’s leadership and mentorship, which was critical to my professional and personal growth. I sometimes have to pinch myself when I think about the kinds of opportunities she trusted me with.” 

During his time as an undergraduate, Billingslea got involved with INROADS, a non-profit organization that helps underserved youth attain leadership and career development opportunities with corporate partners across industries. Through this program he secured two internships with Volkswagen Group of America (VWGoA), and he eventually landed there after graduation. 

At Volkswagen, Billingslea contributed to dealer relations and owner communications while utilizing various marketing and communication activities to build community connections. He eventually moved into an assistant role, providing strategic business and communications support to the office of the President and CEO before landing a chief of staff role in product marketing and strategy, stewarding a team of over 50 employees and product launches in Canada, United States and Mexico. 

In 2021, Billingslea moved to Portland, Oregon, and began working for Nike as a global specialist in purpose communications, focusing on employee engagement. Near the end of 2022, he moved into a new role as global manager, consumer and product communications, building premium brand experiences and driving communications through the consumer lens. His most recent ventures have included liaising with celebrity spokespersons and developing strategy for product launches. 

“My Nike career has been an incredible adventure,” Billingslea said. “Working at Nike is a dream that I did not know I had until it came true. I’m very much a person who is focused on the now. It’s just incredible how life prepares you in ways you may not see at present, but five years down the line, you may look back and say, ‘that experience prepared me perfectly for this moment.’”

From organizing a concert in Athens for family weekends to planning the 2022 ‘Just Do It’ Day and Nike Global Maxim Awards ceremony, where over 8,000 Nike employees, top athletes and influencers attended, Billingslea was prepared at each moment. 

Jeffrey Billingslea and T-Pain pose for a picture together on Ohio University's campus
As president of the Black Student Cultural Programming Board, Jeffrey Billingslea helped bring many talented individuals and speakers to OHIO's campus, including T-Pain, pictured here with him in 2016. Photo provided by Jeffrey Billingslea

“It really has been a full circle experience, and I consider myself blessed to have the career that I’ve had while still being a young professional,” he said. “Nike is an incredible brand that has challenged me and fueled my growth, not only as a professional, but also as a person. I’m really excited for the future with Nike.”

Billingslea has leveraged his education and experiential learning opportunities in the corporate world, and he encourages recent OHIO graduates to do the same while trusting in themselves. 

“Trust your gut, and always remember who you are and the value that you bring,” he advised. “Use what you learned at OHIO. The first few months after graduation may be challenging, and you may wonder, ‘what’s next?’ Trust your gut. There is no set process. There is no single avenue to success. Take the time to enjoy life, to grow and learn. Enjoy the journey and find something that aligns with your passion and purpose.” 

August 10, 2023
Jalyn Bolyard