As part of the HTM collective, Nike CEO and soon-to-be chairman Mark Parker is recognized as one of the brand's most innovative and talented designers. Parker's been honing his design chops ever since joining the company in 1979, but now we're learning that the Fortune 2015 Businessperson of the Year actually got his start a lot sooner than we thought.

In a new interview with Surface magazine that was recapped by Hypebeast, Parker revealed that his earliest work in sneaker design happened while he was a member of Penn State's track and cross-country teams. "I would modify my shoes to try to make them better," Parker said, explaining that he would often adjust the outsoles of sneakers for improved traction, swap out insoles for better cushioning, and alter the uppers for added support.

At the time, these seemed like rather obvious fixes to Parker, but he later realized that not many people were literally taking their sneakers apart to make them better. Just two years after getting his degree at Penn State, Parker came on board at Nike as a footwear designer, and the rest is one for the history books.

For a limited time, you can actually collaborate with Mark Parker on the Air Max 2014 Flyknit iD with colors selected by the HTM designer. Head over to NIKEiD to create a pair now for $265.

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