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20 Questions with Jenny Hellwig

June 1, 2015

Name: Jenny Hellwig
Position/Institution: Director of Publications and Special Projects, Pittsburg State University
Number of years in your position: 4
Alma Mater(s): Pittsburg State University (Pittsburg, KS)
Hometown: Eudora, KS

1) Why did you become involved in ICLA?
I became involved with ICLA to learn about the licensing field and help grow our licensing program. ICLA has also helped us out with networking with others in our field.

2) What is your favorite part about being a member of ICLA?
I love being able to see what other schools are doing and try to figure out how we can implement some of those things on our campus.

3) What is the biggest challenge to working in a university environment?
The turnover rate with students is a challenge when it comes to branding. There is a constant need for education about our brand guidelines.

4) What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment to date?
Writing and finishing my thesis was a pretty huge deal a few years ago. I went into my master's program (Communication) with a background in graphic design and marketing, so communication theory was foreign to me. My thesis started out as a research project but half way into it, we realized it was much more in-depth and detailed than planned so it turned into the full-blown thesis! If anyone wants to know anything about Attribution Theory, Athletics and Online Message Boards, I am your girl!

5) What is the most important skill you have developed in your career?
The most important skill I've developed is the ability to adapt and change in a moment's notice -- and to have a backup plan.

6) Who has been the most influential person in your career?
My boss and our AD - Shout out to Chris Kelly and Jim Johnson - have been incredibly supportive with my desire to work in licensing and branding. They are always willing to listen to ideas I have and willing to help me implement changes in our program to grow the Gorilla Brand.

7) What is one item you cannot live without?
Diet Pepsi!

8) Who would you chose to switch places with for a day?
An Olympic ski jumper. For years I have been fascinated with the event and would love to spend a day on the slopes or doing tricks into a pool!

9) What is your favorite sporting that event you have ever attended?
The 2011 DII National Football Championship was pretty awesome! Especially when the Gorillas came out on top!

10) Why/when did you decide to pursue a career in collegiate licensing?
After my first trip to the NACDA Convention in 2011, I was ecstatic about the possibilities in the field of collegiate licensing. Licensing had moved into our office a few months prior to the convention, so I have been able to see the program continue to grow.

11) In your mind, who in this industry can serve as a good role model?
I have learned a lot from Samantha Stevens at Michigan State. Attending some of her sessions at ICLA and following the work she and her staff did at Miami and now at Michigan State has given me great ideas for our campus!

12) How has your involvement with ICLA influenced your career?
Being involved in ICLA has given us the opportunity to learn from others in the licensing field as we try to build our program at Pitt State. The more I learn, the more my passion for the industry grows. The licensing and branding side of my job is hands down my favorite.

13) What educational or business experiences best prepared you for a career in licensing?
At my previous job, I was part of a system-wide rebranding initiative. The change in name and brand came down from corporate, and I was part of the internal team that rolled it out locally. Having that experience was a great jumping point into branding and licensing.

14) What challenges do you face when working with students or vendors?
The turnover with students is always a challenge and requires continued education. One challenge we have faced with vendors is getting some to understand the approval process is in place for their protection as well as the universities.

15) Would you please explain a professional success and how you implemented it?
We had been talking about branding/licensing education on campus for a while and I had gotten a few ideas from other schools. I wanted to put on a branding event for employees and students. We hosted our first Pittsburg State University Branding Expo in September 2014. More than 100 key employees and students and 16 vendors attended the event. The event was extremely successful and was our kick off to our campus education push.

16) In your opinion, where is collegiate licensing headed in the future?
Collegiate licensing is a huge industry with a large fan base with extremely loyal fans. I don't see that changing any time soon. In fact, I'm confident the industry will continue to grow as digital marketing and social media expand their reach in the field.

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? Get involved in ICLA! The resources we have through the group are extremely valuable for someone wanting to get into the field.

18) What was your biggest professional failure/mistake and how did you learned from it?
In my first month on the job, I was approving and sending on advertisements for high school newspapers. One ad had a map to show the location of Pitt State compared to the location of the school. We had the name of the town spelled wrong on the map... YIKES! After that mistake we make sure every new ad element hits at least three sets of eyes!

19) What percentage of your work-week is spent in your office?
On a normal `non-event' week I probably spend 80 percent of my time in the office at my desk or in meetings. During event weeks it can be MUCH less!

20) What are you most looking forward to at the next ICLA Convention or Winter Symposium?
I'm most excited about networking with and learning from industry professionals. I love hearing their ideas and trying to implement many of them on our own campus.