Black Diamond Inc. has appointed former Sony executive Zeena Freeman as president, effective Aug. 11 and anointed her as successor to the company's co-founder and CEO Peter Metcalf.
Freeman succeeds Metcalf as president, a position which gives her operating responsibility for Black Diamond Equipment, POC and PIEPS brands. Her hiring will afford Metcalf, who remains in the CEO position and on the board of directors, the opportunity to focus more of his time on other brand-defining activities, including championing the issues of great importance to the company's fellow community of users.
Freeman's appointment is the result of a search announced last fall for new senior leadership that would augment the Company's strategic capabilities in brand management, specifically in the areas of apparel, retail and e-commerce. Freeman has also been appointed to Black Diamond's board of directors and, ultimately, the company expects her to succeed Metcalf as CEO no later than June 30, 2015.
“Zeena brings Black Diamond a wonderful combination of leadership, strategic thinking, brand management, and consumer product and omni-channel expertise,” noted Metcalf. “She is precisely the kind of strategic merchant and dynamic brand leader that we have been seeking, and we see her perfectly positioned to lead Black Diamond's fastest growing brands through an omni-channel environment over the next decade.
“While we expect Zeena to succeed me as the next CEO of Black Diamond, I intend to remain involved with the business for the long term, both as a director and as a senior executive responsible for public policy and advocacy, as well as playing an integral role with our culture, products and marketing.”
Freeman has focused on business transformation, including launching, developing and growing consumer businesses globally in emerging categories, channels and markets throughout her career as an executive and consultant. Most recently, she has been advising companies on strategic opportunities, particularly in areas such as omni-channel retail and digital innovation.
She previously worked at Sony Corporation, where Freeman was the general manager of global retail, responsible for Sony's worldwide store and e-commerce businesses, and she also served as the senior VP of consumer business development for Sony Corporation of America. Freeman was also a member of the global sales & marketing team in Tokyo and reported directly to the company's chairman and CEO.
Prior to Sony, Freeman served as CEO of PEOPLE, an Indian fashion and lifestyle brand that is part of the multi-national Aditya Birla Group, a $40 billion dollar corporation. As CEO of PEOPLE, she was responsible for creating a new specialty retail apparel business with global standards in design, merchandising and retail management, and oversaw its growth from inception to the roll out of stores in key cities in India.
For the better part of a decade, Freeman also distinguished herself in a series of roles with increasing responsibility at Gap, Inc., including senior merchandising and management positions in Banana Republic Factory Stores, babyGap and Old Navy Canada. During her time at Gap, she also worked in multiple corporate functions, including corporate strategy and sourcing & supply chain, in addition to serving as the special business assistant to Gap's CEO in 1999 & 2000.
Freeman commented: “I'm thrilled to be joining the Black Diamond team. The Black Diamond Equipment, POC and PIEPS brands have been built over more than half a century by serving its passionate customers through innovative and beautifully designed products that also deliver exceptional quality and brilliant functionality. These brands offer a unique opportunity, anchored in the authenticity with which they have served the professional and core communities, and in existing and emerging areas such as apparel and personal accessories, to meet the growing, global consumer demand for an athletic, outdoor approach to living one's life.
“I'm looking forward to working with Peter and Black Diamond's talented leaders, as well as the Company's many global business partners, to continue to evolve our product offering and implement multi-channel strategies that will inspire customers and create value for shareholders of Black Diamond.”
Freeman received her B.A. degree from Hamilton College and her MBA from New York University, where she was awarded the President's Service Award for Leadership. Her passion for global exploration and outdoor activities has taken her around the world and included spending the better part of a year living, studying and trekking in the Himalayas.
Black Diamond was assisted in this search by Herbert Mines Associates.