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20 Questions with Nita Nickell

March 18, 2014

Name:  Nita Nickell

Position/Institution:  Assistant Director/University of Oregon

Number of years in your position:  almost 19

Hometown:  Eugene, OR

1) Why did you become involved in ICLA?
It's a tremendous resource for learning about licensing and what's important to the industry.

2) What is your favorite part about being in ICLA?
Networking and meeting people face/face, but also the valuable information that is shared on listserv.

3) What is the biggest challenge to working in a university environment?
Keeping those who need to be informed of what is legal use of marks and how we can assist them.

4) What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment to date? 
Building a merchandising program and staff apparel program for our school; having a Spirit Tee program become an "annual event", going into the 11th year.

5) What is the most important skill you have developed in your career?
Learning how to promote my school; talking to people, helping entrepreneurs start a collegiate business.

6) Who has been the most influential person in your career?
Matt Dyste and many at ICLA.

7) What is one item you cannot live without?
My horse (but if it needs to be licensing related, probably my ICLA listserv).

8) Who would you chose to switch places with for a day? 
Someone who owns a fabulous horse stable and lots of staff to do the work so I could ride horses all day.

9) What is your favorite sporting event you have ever attended?
Oregon versus Auburn in the 2011 BCS National Championship Game.



10) Why/when did you decide to pursue a career in collegiate licensing?
I knew nothing about licensing when I started, but it sounded interesting. So glad I got the job.   It's been one of the most enjoyable jobs I've ever had. I've learned so much and met so many great people. It's been amazing to see how everyone is so willing to help you with any question, idea or topic of interest.

11) In your mind, who in this industry can serve as a good role model? 
Linda Gilbert and Jason Galaska

12) How has your involvement with ICLA influenced your career? 
I could honestly say that without ICLA, it would have been much more difficult to do some of the things I've been able to do. I've gleaned ideas from ICLA meetings that have created a spark in me to not give up. ICLA and those involved are crucial to licensing, every aspect of it. 

13) What educational or business experiences best prepared you for a career in licensing?
I worked in the private sector, public school environment and medical profession prior to working in licensing. I think that enabled me to see that different people, coming from all sorts of backgrounds, can work together to accomplish a shared goal. I have attended many ICLA meetings (ACLA before ICLA) which were essential to coming into this business as a novice.  The new resource licensing book is great as a tool for newbies.

14) What challenges do you face when working with students or vendors? 
I don't really think of it as a challenge as much as doing my job. Deadlines can be a big challenge and helping campus understand branding, logo exclusives, and that I am here to help not to hinder. Working with vendors has been interesting since we've started our Merchandising program at UO. I am much more aware of what vendors go through with licensing and how important it is to be clear in discussions regarding product/marks/deadlines and pricing.

15) Would you please explain a professional success and how you implemented it?
Two things come to mind: 11 years ago I had an idea of getting everyone to wear a consistent color for our games. Long story short, this program was implemented and through cooperation with our Duck Store, Athletics, UOAA and our Marching Band, we have been able to see great results. When we have a televised game, you see where the Oregon fans are in the stands.  Secondly, the Staff Apparel program, we just implemented last year. We wanted our staff to use marks correctly, use colors effectively and be proud to represent their campus to visitors and the community at large. It's been going very well, and we have found the campus is so pleased to wear the Oregon brand even when they are out doing their personal shopping. What better way to say "we love the ducks".

16) In your opinion, where is collegiate licensing headed in the future? 
Likely less independent programs and more category management and a lot more online enforcement needed.

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?
Advice: Continue to learn and listen to new ideas.
Advice I would give: Enjoy the day, it's a new opportunity.

18) What was your biggest professional failure/mistake and how did you learn from it?
I focused on becoming a Respiratory Therapist when I should have headed toward a career in business. I'm better at business. I learned that I'm not a quitter and I don't really consider it a "failure", just misguided.

19) What percentage of your work-week is spent in your office? How do you maintain balance between your professional and personal life?
I spend almost 90% of my time in my office these days. It's been difficult to balance my personal life with my work because my work evolved into a huge job, and, as we all know, there are not enough hours in the day to do what needs to be done in this career. I have to remind myself that it's not up to me to make sure everyone is taken care of.

20) What are you most looking forward to at the next ICLA Convention or Winter Symposium?
I wasn't able to attend the most recent Winter Symposium, but I would love to have been able to.  I have never been to an ICLA conference/meeting that I didn't come away with a new idea or some new information, met a new person. This has been and will continue to be a great resource and I know will provide a tremendous benefit to anyone coming into college licensing, whether it be a licensor, licensee or a manufacturer.

Thanks for all you do!