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At home with the licensing industry: Sanrio

How is business continuing for the industry now working from home is the new normal? Source talks to Sabrina Segalov, senior licensing manager, about how Sanrio has adapted.

With the licensing industry now working from home due to COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns, Source talks to key licensors, licensees and agents to find out how they are keeping business going.

Today: Sabrina Segalov, senior licensing manager, Sanrio.

How is the team’s day now structured, with everyone working from home?

Monday mornings we have stuck to our regular team meeting and do this via Microsoft Teams. We are a small office and a close team so it is great to start the week with seeing everyone’s faces and reconnecting. The rest of the week is more or less the same just with a lot more calls and video meetings; we are all still working full days and any colleagues that are juggling children too, we do our best to work meetings around their hours. One new thing we have implemented is team drinks on a Friday afternoon, it is just another way to stay connected and something we all look forward to.

Could you provide a rough timeline of your day?

Depending on whether I have calls with our agent in Australia, I can start anywhere from 8-9.30am. The first hour is catching up on emails from Asia and Australia and then making sure I look presentable for the day of video calls ahead… my poor colleagues tend to not get a made up version of myself! The hours seem to fly with the various Mr Men mugs piling up by the sink, usually finishing the day with catch ups with our US agent. I usually leave the ‘office’ aka my breakfast bar at 6-6.30pm and go for my daily walk and workout… Friday’s workout is replaced by wine!

How is the communication with licensees and retailers continuing? How important is it to continue keeping these lines of communication open during this time?

We have been in touch with most of our partners and tried to understand how this is affecting them, not just on a business level but on an individual one, too. There has also been good communication with retailers we currently work closely with or are planning to for upcoming projects, updating us as much as they can in this very unknown situation. While at the start of lockdown it felt like every day was a moving beast, the last few weeks have felt more settled with a general understanding that we will have to wait and see what happens. With so many unknowns and this affecting everyone, it is hugely important to keep communicating and updating each other so we can work together with our partners and try to find solutions where possible.

Which projects are you able to move forward on right now?

This period has allowed us time to focus on a lot of planning. Mr Men Little Miss celebrate the 50th anniversary next year and while we have been working on the plans for a while, this has allowed us to develop these further on a global level with Asia being our fastest growing market. Meanwhile, the Hello Kitty marketing teams are working on some very exciting digital plans which have been accelerated and will hopefully launch sooner than planned.

What piece of advice would you give about how best to continue to feel like a team while WFH?

We have really been encouraging video calls and these can sometimes take more time than a phone call, but I think it helps people feel connected. The Friday drinks has been a good idea to implement and make things feel as normal as possible, more people turn up than if we were to go to the pub after work!


How are you keeping up morale?

As I live alone, work has personally helped me a lot, not only keeping me busy but I really appreciate being part of a team with colleagues that are more like friends. The same goes for the licensing industry where I work with some great people and I can’t wait to see again soon. I can only imagine what the next The Light Fund or awards event will be like!

Best thing about WFH?

Definitely not having to commute.

What’s the one thing you’ve discovered about each team member since WFH that you didn’t know before?

You definitely get an insight into each other’s lives whether it’s meeting their children you may not have met or their pets. I did discover how much of a Marvel fan our finance manager was who had a replica of Captain America’s shield and Thor’s hammer on his shelving unit, which came tumbling down when he went to show them off!

If you have children, how are you managing keeping them entertained/educated while you work?

I don’t have children but I do love chatting to my colleagues’ when they pop up on our video calls to say hello!

What advice would you give to people in the business who are worried about the future?

We are a close knit industry and I think there is a lot of care on a business and personal level, so I would like to hope we will all work together to come through this on the other side.

If you or your team would like to take part in this feature, simply email Samantha Loveday on saml@max-publishing.co.uk.

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