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20 Questions with Mekale Jackson

Feb. 20, 2018

Name: Mekale Jackson
Position/Institution: Assistant AD - Creative Services & Digital Media / St. John's University (NY)
Number of years in your position: 10 years at school (3rd year managing Licensing)
Alma Mater(s): University of Michigan
Hometown: Detroit, MI - West 7 Mile

Why did you become involved in ICLA? 
My position has evolved in my 10 years at St. John's. I started out as a Publications Coordinator to now managing the overall brand of the department. With my increased role in managing the licensing program for the university, it was a no brainer to become involved in ICLA and have the opportunity to learn from other licensing leaders in our industry.

How has your involvement with ICLA influenced your career?
My position went from being a revenue driver to now (in part) a revenue generator. ICLA has helped me realize the potential that we have at St. John's to sharpen our process. We have a huge opportunity to increase revenue, partner with vendors to give alumni, students, fans, donors and supporters a wide variety of products and gear that wasn't available before. Having the opportunity to talk with ICLA colleagues, especially being in the Mentorship Program, has made my new role easier.

If you could choose one (1) amenity to add to the workplace, what would it be?
An in-arena coffee and espresso bar.

What is the biggest challenge to working in a university environment?
Available resources. Every school has a budget, some larger than others. There are needs across all of the university departments and buildings. Often times, you just have to wait your turn.

What is the most important skill you have developed in your career?
How to be a Leader - Leaders are made, not born. It takes work, reading, mentorship and having the chance to mentor others. It's a skill that one needs to develop over time. If you can be a strong leader, other staff, administrators, Graduate Assistants and Interns will be more inspired and reinvigorated to the job that needs to be done.

What hobby would you get into if time and money weren't an issue?

It's ironic, the one hobby that I had, I turned into my career (Graphic Design and Watching Sports) … Honestly, my life is my hobby.

When people come to you for help, what do they usually want help with?
We have a lot of Graduate Assistants, student workers and interns within the office. More often than not, I find myself giving lots of career advice, life after being a student-athlete and tips on adulting.

Why/when did you decide to pursue a career in collegiate licensing?
I was already heavy on the creative and digital side of athletics. I saw a wrong logo on a shirt that was for sale one day and I started asking questions. One of those answers eventually lead me to Licensing. At that moment, I wanted to be involved and make sure we were putting out the correct logos.

Who has been the most influential person in your career?
It's two people. Mark Fratto, he believed in my potential early on and hired me when I didn't have much experience. Stephen Dombroski, he opened my eyes to an opportunity that ultimately helped my career grow.

If you didn't have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
Sharpen my NBA 2K skills and become a ESports Pro. They are PAYING people to play these games now.

Who's your role model? Why?
My Dad. He has a way of never answering a question when you go to him for advice, but yet you leave with all the right answers. It amazes me.

What's your favorite quote?
"The game is the game." ~ The Wire

What is your biggest pet peeve?
Not saying Thank You. If someone, anyone, regardless of if it's their job or not, you should always say Thank You.

If you could turn any activity into an Olympic sport, what would you have a good chance at winning medal a for?
Playing Spades.

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?
"The man who says he can and he can't are both right." …. My advice to someone else: Find your niche, start asking questions. Collegiate licensing is ran different from institution to institution. Find out where it is and get involved any way you can.

In your opinion, where is collegiate licensing headed in the future? Reinvigorated

What is your favorite family tradition?
Every time our daughter comes home from school with any time of certificate or award, we make sure we do a big announcement within our house telling her congratulations. It's fun and it shows that we are proud of her, regardless of the award she gets.

What percentage of your work-week is spent in your office?

What are you most looking forward to at the next ICLA Convention or Winter Symposium? Presenations on what other schools are doing to make licensing better. The Help Me, Help You sessions are always informative as well.

About ICLA: ICLA provides educational and networking opportunities, enhancement of acceptable operating standards and ethics, and establishment of the overall prestige and understanding of the profession of collegiate licensing. For more information on ICLA, please visit www.iclanet.com. ICLA is administered by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA), which is in its 53rd year. For more information on NACDA and the 17 professional associations that fall under its umbrella, please visit www.nacda.com