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20 Questions with Robin Cooper

Nov. 3, 2014

Name: Robin Cooper
Position/Institution: Asst. Director of Licensing & Trademarks at Indiana University
Number of years in your position: 16
Alma Mater(s): Indiana Wesleyan University
Hometown: Spencer, Indiana

1) Why did you become involved in ICLA?
I was hired into the Licensing Department when I was looking for an office job. After learning more about the field, I fell in love with the collegiate licensing world.

2) What is your favorite part about being a member of ICLA?
The friendships I have developed over the years, the never ending support you have, and the continued education and resources that is offered to you as a member.

3) What is the biggest challenge to working in a university environment?
The continued education within the university about what our office is responsible for and why we do what we do.

4) What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment to date?
Serving as an ICLA Board member and mentor. It has given me the ability to share my personal experiences and help others as they look for advice, support or encouragement.

5) What is the most important skill you have developed in your career?
Learning how to deal with people in a professional and diplomatic manner; also realizing that what works well in one school's environment doesn't necessarily work for everyone.

6) Who has been the most influential person in your career?
My parents before they passed, they both supported and encouraged me to always strive to do my best and work hard to achieve my goals.

7) What is one item you cannot live without?
My phone! 

8) Who would you chose to switch places with for a day?
An airline pilot...I want to fly a plane. LOL

9) What is your favorite sporting that event you have ever attended?
National Finals Rodeo

10) Why/when did you decide to pursue a career in collegiate licensing?
It found me, but once I learned about the collegiate licensing world and intellectual property rights it all fell into an area of study that I always wanted to pursue, which was law.

11) In your mind, who in this industry can serve as a good role model?
Dale Arens has to be the one person that I have consistently leaned on for advice or support. He not only is a great leader in the industry but also a genuine friend and good person.

12) How has your involvement with ICLA influenced your career?
I have met so many great people that have encouraged me along the way, always helping to build my self-esteem as a leader and as an individual. Without the support of my ICLA family, I don't believe I would be where I am today.

13) What educational or business experiences best prepared you for a career in licensing?
I think being an entrepreneur of a school bus fleet and owning and operating a beauty shop helped me understand the importance of maintaining a high level of integrity. Being honest and respectful has opened more doors for me than anything else in my life.

14) What challenges do you face when working with students or vendors?
More than anything, it's educating them on how licensing works and why we do what we do to protect the school's image and intellectual rights. Once you explain the process and how the revenue is used, they are normally very supportive of the process.

15) Would you please explain a professional success and how you implemented it?
My biggest success was helping to implement the candy striped shirts. For years we have been known for our candy striped pants. We decided to take it to another level and worked with a vendor to create a candy striped shirt which was debuted at Midnight Madness by one of Indiana's biggest icons from Survivor, Rupert.

16) In your opinion, where is collegiate licensing headed in the future?
I think our industry is looking at change from the student athletic perspective. We will need to change our direction and discover new techniques to stimulate the market interests beyond the universities sports stars and sports success.

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? To know your market and your consumers. Become an ICLA member, it will give you the support and education that you need to learn from some of the best in the industry. Also, stay involved with the students on campus, be alert and watch endlessly for trend changes. Make sure you know which companies can help you with hot market items and continue to develop relationships within your community to help support those initiatives.

18) What was your biggest professional failure/mistake and how did you learned from it?
For me, it was not following my dream to be an attorney. I felt like I was too old to continue my education when I divorced. Now I realize that I would have made a great Intellectual Property Attorney with hands on experience and knowledge of the issues that we deal with daily.

19) What percentage of your work-week is spent in your office? How do you maintain balance between your professional and personal life?
80% of my time is spent in my office; the other 20% is out in the market place working on business development. I am not the best at balancing, often finding myself on email until late at night. However, when we have special family celebrations such as birthdays and holidays, I do remove my work hat for the day.

20) What are you most looking forward to at the next ICLA Convention or Winter Symposium?
Seeing all of my friends and sharing new ideas. When I attend, I always bring something valuable back to Indiana. It is also a great opportunity to develop new relationships and find new resources.