Skip to main content
Partner logo
Mobile Icon Link Mobile Icon Link Mobile Icon Link Gamecocks+
Former Soccer Standout Quickly Navigates Life After Sports
General  . 

Former Soccer Standout Quickly Navigates Life After Sports

by Brad Muller, Director of Content

In celebration of Black History Month, Gamecock Athletes Magnifying Excellence (G.A.M.E.), which is the student-led organization for minority student-athletes, salutes Gamecock alumni who are achieving professionally outside of their sport.

Former South Carolina soccer standout Raina Johnson (2012-2015) could move quickly on the pitch to get to the goal. Johnson is now quickly navigating life after sports in the professional world and is still achieving her goals. After graduating in 2016 with a degree in marketing and management, she landed a job with Techtronic Industries (TTI) and has been working her way up through the ranks with an international opportunity that will move her to Hong Kong.
Raina Johnson 2021
“I’m most excited about the types of relationships I’ll build,” the 27-year-old Johnson said. “I think that’s what I’m most excited for anywhere I move anyway. This move in particular is going to be so far out of my comfort zone. I’m going to be meeting people from Asia, Europe, Africa, and South America. I feel like everyone is going to be there. It’s a giant melting pot. There are so many ex-pats and so many immigrants. I think that’s what I’m most excited for: building relationships and being exposed to so many different cultures.”

As a student-athlete, Johnson didn’t envision herself having a career revolving around power tools, but she saw the importance of opportunities for growth in professional life.

“I never thought I would be working with power tools. In some ways, I still don’t connect myself to power tools,” Johnson said. “What I do think is that when people are looking for jobs or opportunities, focus on companies where you can see the most growth year after year because that’s usually where you’ll get the most opportunities and where you’ll get the most autonomy. I don’t think of myself as a power tools gal. I think there is a lot of value in starting off in a company that has a ton of growth. With that comes more opportunities to move into higher positions faster in the future.”

Johnson spent the last few years in Wisconsin working at Milwaukee Tool as a product manager for power tool technology. She recently changed jobs, but is still working for the same parent company, TTI, working as a battery sourcing manager.

“I’m excited. Since I graduated, I’ve wanted to do an international assignment,” Johnson said. “When I came out of school, the best way for me to do that was to join TTI. I joined TTI right of school and went down to Miami and started doing a sales and management role down in South Florida. I got a little bit of my bearings on working in another language, which was Spanish.

“I did a management role where I managed all the marketing and sales for South Florida. I was with the same company for both of those, and then jumped up to Wisconsin with Milwaukee Tool, which is still in the TTI umbrella. I did a few product management roles on the power tool side. Now I’m transitioning to this new role, focusing more on all of TTI’s brands again.”

“I feel like I was a completely different person in college than I am now. I also think I have a long way to go to get where I want to be.”

While some may find it intimidating to work overseas, Johnson has long planned on branching out for a different challenge.

“I’ve been really interested in international plans forever! I’m just pumped to get out there. I’m lucky because the national languages in Hong Kong are English and Cantonese. All business will be done in English. I do not speak Cantonese! I’ll try and learn. I think it will be a fun challenge.
Raina Johnson vs. Samford on Aug. 24, 201
“I’m going to be working with a lot of battery cell suppliers; your LG, Samsung, and stuff like that. Mostly what I will be doing is negotiating and setting up suppliers in Korea, Japan, China, and Vietnam and making sure that both parties are getting what they want. Then I’ll be communicating back to our different business units in the U.S. for what we need.”

Johnson would eventually like to explore more of southeast Asia and India. She had spent a few weeks in Vietnam one summer while a student-athlete at South Carolina, taking part in the Coach for College program.

“I’m excited about exploring that part of the world at little bit more than I have.

“I think (Coach for College) made me 100 percent certain that I could do it in that part of the world. But before I went to Vietnam, I was still planning on working for TTI so that I could go overseas eventually. So, it was already in my head, and then the Vietnam thing came up, and that was another way to get out there and explore more of Southeast Asia and see if it was something I definitely wanted to do. Having that opportunity on the table (from TTI), led me to wanting to do Coach for College.”

In ascending through different roles with the same company, there has been one important constant in taking pride and pleasure in her work, even if she didn’t initially see herself working in the world of power tools.

“For the upcoming role, I think I will like the most all the opportunities to travel and to interact with different kinds of people and learning the different norms in different places,” Johnson said. “What I liked about my previous job the most was being a product manager because you get to take a project all the way from concept through mass production. I also liked getting to travel a lot. You get to meet a lot of different people. That’s been probably the most rewarding part; taking prototypes out to them, getting their feedback, and making them feel involved.”

As she looks back on fond memories of time with her teammates at South Carolina, Johnson recognizes that the work she put in as a student-athlete can translate to any other profession.

“I think it’s most evident in work ethic. You have a built-in work ethic from being a student-athlete.   

“I feel like I was a completely different person in college than I am now. I also think I have a long way to go to get where I want to be. Right now, I’m kind of in a learning stage. I know what I do and don’t like so far. I still have a lot to learn about myself and being an adult. It’s still a long way to go, but I think I’m on the right track.”