View From the Top With OIA Executive Director Amy Roberts

July 7, 2015

Last week, OIA announced its appointment of Amy Roberts as the association’s new executive director, and the news spread throughout the office and the industry with great enthusiasm. As we prepare to welcome Amy (back) to the OIA offices, we wanted to know what drew her to this role, what she hopes to accomplish in her first few months and into the future and what she sees as our industry’s greatest opportunities. She took some time over the 4th of July weekend to answer our rapid-fire questions.

OIA: This is, in a sense, a homecoming for you because you worked at OIA previously. What drove your interest in the ED position? 

Amy Roberts: I saw the opportunity to bring together my previous experience in communications, government affairs and sustainability and my current experiences working for a changing retailer with a private-label brand to help the industry adapt and thrive in a complex competitive environment. There are levers to push in all these areas.

OIA: What will be your first task on your first day back in the office? What are your 30, 60, 90 day plans? 

AR: My first task is to pick up on the good work OIA staff has been doing under the interim leadership of Steve Barker; to get reacquainted with members I already know,  meet new members and listen to the concerns and ideas of the board of directors and the diverse membership about where they want the association to drive value for them and their businesses.  OIA has a strong strategic plan in place, so I’ll support OIA staff in gauging where we are in the execution of that plan and continue to refine, evolve and develop new programs to ensure we are helping the industry grow and be successful.   

OIA: During the interview process, were any specific goals presented to you by the board? If so, what were they and how do you plan to attack those? If not, what are your specific goals?

AR: The board is focused on delivering value to our members that reflects the changing consumer and retail environment. You can see that showing up already in OIA’s consumer segmentation offering, the focus on close-to-home recreation—especially as it reflects urbanization—and the broadening of the association’s communications and education offerings. The board is very focused on ensuring that OIA programs and services support the continued growth and vibrancy of specialty outdoor retailers as the backbone of our industry.

OIA: What do you see as OIA’s biggest opportunities in the next five years? Biggest challenges?

AR: Our biggest opportunity is embedded in who we are as an industry already. We offer compelling, innovative products that inspire people to get healthy, get fit, have fun and get outside with family and friends.  We are thoughtful about our impact on the environment, and we want to share our stoke for the outdoors with everyone. Our industry is about having fun. The challenge is ensuring we have the opportunity to grow our marketplace and inspire more and new people to want to interact with us, buy our products and experiences and participate in outdoor activities and lifestyles. The items I just mentioned are part of what makes our industry’s speciality outdoor retailer experience compelling to consumers. OIA needs to support the success of specialty retail. We also have to focus on growing the market, and that means ensuring national and local policymakers understand, support and fund recreation infrastructure. This includes supporting policies that enable more people to get outside and recreate, whether on their own or through guided trips.

OIA: How did your past experiences including  MEC and OIA prep you for the role as ED of OIA?

AR: I would say first and foremost is my ability to navigate diverse viewpoints and ideas, facilitate collaboration and deliver an outcome that people can get behind.

OIA: What do you see as the role of a trade association?

AR: Individual companies have the power of commerce and direct relationship with the consumer.  A trade association can harness the collective voice, intellect and advocacy of those companies and amplify it to achieve goals that might be beyond the reach of a single brand or retailer but are attainable when the industry pulls together.