Meet the women of the
Innovation Footwear Team

"Our aim is to inspire through ‘north star’ projects and provocative concepts."

August 7, 2023

"Our aim is to inspire through ‘north star’ projects and provocative concepts."

August 7, 2023

In the sneaker industry, there are many differing types of silhouettes, including sportstyle, lifestyle, and the constantly evolving performance footwear. The latter category is where innovation takes centre stage, and at PUMA, a team of experts are dedicated to pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the realm of innovative footwear.

This group of individuals, known as the Innovation Footwear Team, is a group of designers and specialists who collaborate to develop cutting-edge, performance-oriented footwear, constantly striving to push the limits of footwear design. Today, we have the privilege of speaking with three senior female leaders from PUMA’s Innovation Footwear Team, Carly McKenzie, Tu Nguyen and Lynsey Park who are spearheading the development of some of PUMA’s most innovative footwear.

Carly Mckenzie – Head of Design – Footwear Innovation

The leader of the pack is Carly McKenzie, who is currently the head of the footwear design team within the PUMA Innovation department. Mckenzie leads innovation and visionary design projects across all categories of the business including football, running, track & field, basketball, motorsport and Golf. Her team is also responsible for PUMA’s pinnacle sustainability projects and statement products for PUMA Black Station and NYFW shows. 

What do you enjoy most about your role, and being part of the PUMA innovation team?

Carly: Definitely the variety! No project is ever the same. Not only do we work across all the different categories of the business, we also have very different timeframes to work within. Sometimes super tight deadlines to get a product ready for an Athlete, for a competition, other times creating concepts for 2028 and beyond!

I love the collaborative nature of the work we do in innovation. Our role is to facilitate visionary design-led projects, as well as technically challenging ones. We also work closely with designers across the brand and host projects that incubate experimental ideas.

Our aim is to inspire through ‘north star’ projects and provocative concepts.

What was one of your favourite PUMA projects to have worked on?

Carly: I’ve been with the brand for 13 years so there’s too many to choose from!

But when I first joined Innovation, the team was finalising a sprint spike for Karsten Warholm. It was so inspirational to work directly with an athlete and be able to see the improvements on the track, as we fine-tuned the design. It’s such a buzz to see him win races in a shoe that my team worked so hard on. Some of the most exciting stuff I’ve worked on in Innovation is still top secret, so you’ll have to wait!

Tu Nguyen – Senior Product Development Manager – Footwear Innovation 

Along with design, development plays an important role in the creation of innovative footwear, as Senior Product Development Manager Tu Nguyen knows all too well. Nguyen’s role is to spearhead the development of  PUMA’s innovative footwear products. On a day-to-day basis, her responsibilities include executing innovation performance footwear projects for teamsport, running, and basketball products. This involves coordinating the product management phase and utilising various resources such as research and insights, design, material development. Additionally, she continuously creates and regularly develops concept prototypes to push forward Puma’s innovative efforts.

What do you enjoy most about your role, and being part of the PUMA innovation team?

Tu: I truly enjoy using my creative freedom to drive footwear innovation into the future in collaboration with a team of dedicated designers, engineers, and creatives. I strive to make an impact on the creation and success of new footwear products, continuing to learn and stay up to date with the latest technologies and industry trends.

What was one of your favourite PUMA projects to have worked on?

Tu: I have several favourite projects, when it comes to football, my top choices are ULTRA FOOTBALL, FUTURE FOOTBALL, and Inferno, which is my favourite sneaker project.


Lynsey Park – Senior Manager for Material Design – Footwear Innovation 

Lastly, we spoke with materials expert Lynsey Park, the Senior Manager for Material Design & Innovation for Footwear at PUMA. Park’s work revolves around leaing the innovative materials and design processes across PUMA’s FOREVER.BETTER. category (sustainable materials) and their FOREVER.FASTER. category (performance material technologies).



What do you enjoy most about your role, and being part of the PUMA innovation team?

Lynsey: I love the problem-solving aspect of my job. I’ve worked in commercial design for most of my career, so now it’s great to work on tailored projects that work on solving problems through design thinking or strategy to improve current design practices. I also enjoy discovering new design talent to join the team, hiring new designers brings a lot of energy to our team!

What was one of your favourite PUMA projects to have worked on?

Lynsey: One of my favourite PUMA projects I’ve been part of is the Re:Suede experiment (our biodegradable sneaker). 

This shoe was designed in partnership with the Innovation Team, Sportstyle BU, and our sustainability and strategy Teams. A lot of teamwork was required to bring this relatively simple looking shoe to life.

A pressing question in design right now is “how do we prevent products from reaching landfill at the end of its lifecycle?”. Shoes are particularly difficult to recycle because of the many materials being used and their complex construction. This project continues to teach us more about circular design, and many material learnings from Re:Suede have trickled down into inline. Plus recycling and composting facilities are really interesting places to visit, a lot of learning here!

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