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20 Questions with Matthew Chambers

Jan. 9, 2017

Name: Matthew Chambers
Position/Institution: Licensing Manager at Utah Valley University
Number of years in your position: Less than a year
Alma Mater(s): Utah Valley University
Hometown: Orem, UT

1. Why did you become involved in ICLA?
I wanted to become involved in ICLA to increase my understanding of collegiate licensing industry and to network with professionals who can provide support and knowledgeable insights concerning licensing. The supportive network is definitely what drew me into becoming a involved.

2. What is your favorite part about being a member of ICLA?
I would have to say it’s like being in a family. It’s all about the comradery and the spirit of licensing. The people are upbeat, fun, and love sharing new insights about the industry.

3. What is the biggest challenge to working in a university environment?
There’s always politics swirling around and the occasional employee going rogue with logos.

4. What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment to date?
The 2016 summer/fall we established a branding refresh to: streamlined our marks for vendors, corrected our colors for consumers, added some athletic wordmarks and built campus hype to establish logo buy in. It’s working well and our constituents love the changes!

5. What is the most important skill you have developed in your career?
Understanding that there is always someone who will always work to tell you no. However, in licensing, you have to cut around the walls of “No” and move forward. You have to believe in your goals and understand that you are building something meaningful. The goal is there and you have to keep moving forward.

6. Who has been the most influential person in your career?
My wife, Rachel, is my branding accomplice! We seem to start branding discussions everywhere. She pushes me to go for what I want and expects me to do amazing at licensing every day.

7. What is one item you cannot live without?
My wedding ring. That’s daily branding I love to live by!

8. Who would you choose to switch places with for a day?
Ken Block (professional rally driver). I love speed and love racing! Check out “Ken Block Gymkhana 1” on YouTube. There’s nothing quite like adrenaline.

9. What is your favorite sporting event/best sporting event you have ever attended?
The Ski/Snowboard RAIL JAM on campus! Talk about a college experience!

10. Why/when did you decide to pursue a career in collegiate licensing?
Oddly, I was over Student Housing prior to licensing. While in that position, I found that many off-campus housing complexes where showcasing themselves as university apartments, almost dormitory like. I had to go after them with “cease and desist” letters and actually confiscate and remove property from their facilities. I loved defending the brand of the university and didn’t know licensing existed. Our university began to create a new licensing position and the entire working description was like music to my ears. I did research for about a year and a half before the position was available. I wanted this position so badly and thankfully I was selected. Now that I’m here, talk about a dream job!

11. In your mind, who in this industry can serve as a good role model?
Brett Eden and Richard Fairchild (University of Utah)

12. How has your involvement with ICLA influenced your career?
ICLA has provided an amazing online network that has delivered amazing communication that has streamlined our campus processes and expanded our licensing options/possibilities. This has influenced me greatly because I can better understand that collaboration and sharing provide strength by adding viewpoints sometimes never considered. I have chosen to always be transparent and to focus on best practices before tweaking the systems to meet our needs.

13. What educational or business experiences best prepared you for a career in licensing?
I probably came through the most uncommon route, but I graduated in Art and Visual Communication with emphases in graphic design and photography. During my studies, I focused on the social connections surrounding branding.

14. What challenges do you face when working with students or vendors?
a. Students can be seen as a challenge, but the reality is, they just want to love and showcase the brand. Knowing their purpose or goal for the brand really helps correctly guide the conversation. They on board quickly and we are also soliciting help from our student leaders to establish the rules needed to streamline student branding interaction.
b. Vendors make everything possible. I think the main challenge is helping vendors understand that you are here for them and that they need to work within the systems of licensing. We also utilize our vendors to give us timely feedback so we can find the difficulties for the vendors and smooth our processes. Vendors can really help you eliminate the very challenges they face.

15. Would you please explain a professional success and how you implemented it?
Make your passion and work fun! Fun is exciting, happy and energizing to be around. I found that I was trying to be serious all the time while holding the line, but my supervisor Curtis Puzey taught me to always make it fun. It’s unbelievable what you can accomplish when the attitude you bring feels fun. Sometimes we simply need to chill out, relax and realize that we’re in licensing and we’re in the industry of fun!

16. In your opinion, where is collegiate licensing headed in the future?
I believe we are seeing a new horizon concerning two large transitions: 1) A broadening of consumer interests in various sports, which will divide licensing’s marketing abilities and 2) Bookstores and licensing being challenged to provide specialized customization for collegiate consumers. I think this will add a similar challenge seen by big-box retail competing with online customization. Consumers are currently more selective with fabrics than they were in the past, but I believe the change will soon come when fabric styles (cut, shape, and fit) will also be a consumer demand in the collegiate industry. Consumers want everything to flatter them and a one style fits all just won’t work. Trying to accommodate all these specialized selective requests is a complicated future challenge.

17. What is the best piece of advice you have ever received? What advice would you give to someone looking to enter the field of collegiate licensing?
a. “Go for it!” If you want it, then get out of your own way and “Go for it!”
b. My advice: Always be willing to learn. You can never know it all. If you are at the bottom and know nothing, learn from the best. When you feel like you’re the best, learn from the little guys on the ground. We only get one perspective, which is limited. Once we move one direction, we may lose sight of something else. Learning from others is key in this industry because we sit from one position while the industry is global.

18. What was your biggest professional failure/mistake and how did you learn from it?
Getting frustrated and quitting. Frustration is vain because it’s all about yourself. You can quit too early, never realizing the whole story. It’s ok to feel disappointment, but live in it briefly. I learned that each of us needs a consistent new perspective. Failure and mistakes are merely perspectives that can help us grow and find success.

19. What percentage of your work-week is spent in your office?
60/40 right now as we are building the beginnings of our licensing program. You need to spend time in the office establishing the right framework to move. However, never stay disconnected with the outside, your various constituents and vendors need you to constantly communicate. But more importantly, you need their feedback to make the needed changes to succeed.

20. What are you most looking forward to at the next ICLA Convention or Winter Symposium?
a. Learning from other through networking
b. Understanding collegiate shoppers
c. Consumer data and trends