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20 Questions with Dawn Brown

May 4, 2015

Name: Dawn Brown
Position/Institution: Director of University Relations with Promoversity
Number of years in your position: 10 years in licensing, 1 year with Promoversity
Alma Mater(s): UW Green Bay
Hometown: Appleton, WI

1. Why did you become involved in ICLA?
I became involved with ICLA 10 years ago when I managed the Collegiate Licensing program for JanSport. They had a membership with ICLA but limited active participation. Part of my role was to build relationships within the industry and I became active within ICLA as a result.

2. What is your favorite part about being a member of ICLA?
All of the great relationships I have built throughout the years has been invaluable. Personally connecting with colleagues at the Symposium and Convention is a huge advantage when so much daily business is done quickly and impersonally through email.

3. What is the biggest challenge to working in a university environment?
Each University has different guidelines for use of their logos on products and online services. From a licensee perspective, knowing how to navigate through these variations to make sure we do what is best to help each institution with their own specific need.

4. What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment to date?

My kids. I have 2 sons, 11 and 14. They make everything I do worthwhile.

5. What is the most important skill you have developed in your career?

To be flexible and open to change. Licensing is a highly collaborative role and various changes happen both internally and with the Universities I work with. Being able to understand various needs of both internal and external colleagues and shift direction based on the best needs of others is something that develops through time and practice.

6. What is one lesson you have learned in your life?
To shoot for the stars and go for whatever it is that makes you happy and fulfilled. That memories and people, not things are what really matter is the greatest lesson one can learn.

7. What is a unique experience you've had in your life?
I went skydiving a few years ago with my mom who was 60 years old at the time. I had wanted to skydive since I was 16 and finally took the leap. It was the most amazing experience and I will certainly do it again.

8. Who would you choose to switch places with for day?
Melinda Gates. I admire her philanthropic work as she travels the world to try and make it a better place.

9. What is your favorite sporting event that you have ever attended?
A Packers game! Green Bay vs. the Minnesota Vikings. The energy at Lambeau Field was electric! (the Packers won)

10. Why/when did you decide to pursue a career in collegiate licensing?
Back then I had no clue what collegiate licensing was! It wasn't until I delved into my previous role with JanSport that I began to understand what collegiate licensing was.

11. In your mind, who in this industry can serve as a good role model?
I think the good role models are those who volunteer information and ask questions. No matter how long anyone has been in this industry, we think of new ideas and ask questions in different ways. Those who are open and communicate with others about their experiences and how others implement certain business practices at their various levels is extremely important.

12. How has your involvement with ICLA influenced your career in collegiate licensing?
My involvement with ICLA has allowed me to expand my knowledge of branding, and be more open to sharing with others about my own experiences. As my relationships with ICLA members has grown through the years, I have so much of a better understanding of others roles and how my work fits in as an affiliate and partner in this industry.

13. What educational or business experiences best prepared you for a career in licensing?
Educationally, marketing courses help show why having a strong, consistent brand is important. Being organized, knowing how to analyze and interpret information, and the ability to navigate contracts is very important.

14. What challenges do you face when working with students or vendors?
As a vendor, challenges I have faced when working with students is when they don't know about their University brand guidelines and they want to order something off-brand. Also, having worked with a graphic design team who were encouraged to be innovative and unique in their artwork creation and I had to be the "no police" internally. Telling designers their art is not going to work isn't always well-received.

15. Would you please explain a professional success and how you implemented it?
Having worked with hot market events, very large orders would come in, needing to ship the next day because a team won a game or championship. All orders stopped at me for approval by the University. By having the connections I developed through ICLA, I was often able to make that phone call or send that email to get the needed approvals and the orders into production. It was great to hear the orders would arrive on time while the fans and students were waiting in line at the stores for the product.

16. In your opinion, where is collegiate licensing headed in the future?
I think collegiate licensing will have more institutions of smaller sizes becoming licensed as they realize the importance and strength of branding. Also, as more vendors create products specific to the College market, institutions will be more selective of their vendors, opting for quality over quantity of vendors; both in quality of product as well as quality of services and relationships.

17. What advice would you give to someone looking to enter the field of collegiate licensing?
There is not a "one-way" approach to anything. Everyone needs to do what is right for their campus and their program. Be involved in ICLA, as it provides a lot of education and ideas.

18. Where is a place you have always wanted to travel?
I would love to travel to Italy and Greece. I love the culture, history and would love to experience the food and wine of the Mediterranean!

19. What is a typical day like for you?
I work out of my home office, and the majority of my day is spent on the phone or on email. My English Pointer dog, Gus is often at my feet.

20. What are you most looking forward to at the next ICLA Convention or Winter Symposium?
I love reconnecting with colleagues. I always look forward to seeing old friends and learning about current things happening in the industry.