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Licensing International UK Rising Star 2021 Nominees: Chelsea Schep

We find out more about IMG’s senior licensing manager.

Chelsea Schep, senior licensing manager, IMG

My route into the licensing industry went something like this…

While I was finishing my undergraduate degree, I worked part time at a company that provided POS and ecommerce solutions to small retailers. While here, I was introduced to a company (Velocity Brand Management) that managed the licensing and retail for a number of different sporting organisations in Australia, New Zealand and the UK. They had a licensing executive role in London which I applied for and the rest is history. I have been lucky enough work across so many different sporting events, leagues and governing bodies. My job has taken me all across the world, including India, Sri Lanka, Dubai, Australia, New Zealand, the US and of course the UK and Europe.

How long in the industry?

Seven years, with a hiatus to focus more on the retail and marketing side of the business.

When I was growing up, I had no idea that ‘licensing’ was an industry, so I wanted to be…

I always wanted to work in sport, but I wasn’t sure what exactly I wanted to do. I wasn’t quite skilled enough to be an athlete, didn’t really enjoy writing enough to be a journalist and didn’t want to study forever to be a sports psychologist.

I was lucky that sports licensing was the first industry I really worked in, and I got to experience so many different aspects of being involved in world class sporting events.

In my eyes, licensing is one of the most important parts of an event. I genuinely enjoy being part of the product development process and seeing this sold at venue or in-store. People have an emotional connection to the merchandise they are purchasing and this lasts far beyond the day itself.

Biggest inspiration in the licensing industry?

Although she is not the biggest name in licensing, I really admire Victoria Beckham (and not just because I am a Spice Girls fan!) She has forged her own identity, separate from her husband and music career, and focused on building her own brand and partnerships.

I am particularly inspired by seeing women do well and provide a platform and path for others. I am all for women supporting women and try to replicate this in my own life.

Best thing about your current role?

I love the diversity, especially at IMG where we have so many incredible clients and licensees we work with. We are encouraged to be involved in the global licensing programme and collaborate with our colleagues. It is great to make connections and link licensees and brands that might not have ordinarily worked together.

However, the most satisfying thing for me is seeing a the full life cycle of a product or license come to fruition. From initial outreach, to finalising a contract, seeing product concepts, working on a marketing plan, selling this in at retail and then finally seeing this out in public, sometimes even years later. This is still one of the best things about my job.

What are you most proud of within your licensing career to date?

I am most proud of the work I did on the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2019. With 10 participating teams, 48 matches, 11 venues around England and Wales, the Cricket World Cup was the most ambitious and commercially successful cricket event at the time. My team not only managed the global licensing programme, but also implemented the full retail programme across each venue including Lord’s, The Oval and Old Trafford.

Responsible not only for the event merchandise, but also delivering an extensive uniforming programme for the event including Volunteers, ICC and LOC staff and the on-field kit for the Match Officials. This was achieved through multiple branded and unbranded partners, sourced and appointed through the licensing programme.

I worked with key ICC commercial partners, such as Nissan, Emirates, OPPO and Pepsi on their marketing and activation campaigns, utilising the licensing program. This included match day activations, licensed promotions and ‘money can’t buy’ experiences.

Looking back at this event (especially post-pandemic), I am incredibly proud of the scale of what was accomplished and feel privileged to have contributed to this piece of history.

Licensed character you can most identify with (and why)?

This is the most difficult question! Is it too cliché to say Belle from Beauty and the Beast? I do love reading and old castles… less fond of yellow ball gowns and dancing with beasts…

What were your first thoughts when you were revealed as a nominee for the Licensing International UK Rising Star Award?

It was lovely to be recognised in this industry, especially considering the strength of the other nominees. It is a huge compliment.

Biggest lesson that you’ve learnt this year?

I am learning to be less reactive and to stop and look at the bigger picture. There are lots of different points of view, and this can be missed if you are obsessing over the little details.

The adage goes, once you enter the licensing industry, you never really leave… what are your short-term goals for your career in licensing?

My immediate focus is to grow the licensing programmes I currently work on. In the next two years, I would love to build my own team and expand the sports side of our business. I am also committed to mentoring my colleagues and supporting them in their licensing careers.

The Licensing International UK Rising Star award will be presented as part of The Licensing Awards 2021, which is taking place on Tuesday 14 September at the Grosvenor House Hotel, London.

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