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Licensing International UK Rising Stars: Samuel Byard

SEGA’s product development manager tells us the highlights of his licensing career so far.

Samuel Byard

Product Development Manager, SEGA

My route into the licensing industry went something like this…

At the time I had no idea what licensing was – I was given my big break working at a back to school and gifting licensee by Samantha Norman, who now works at Blue Sky Designs. The role of junior graphic designer was a great opportunity and it was soon apparent what an exciting industry licensing was. Over the years I learnt more and moved up to a senior product designer before deciding to take the brave leap into the licensor side.

How long in the industry?

I’ve just reached my five year milestone at SEGA.

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

Growing up I was always creative… when I was very young I actually wanted to be a police dog, however giving up on that dream I turned my creativity to study art and design at college followed by fashion design as I knew I wanted to pursue a career within a creative industry. Fashion, branding and trends within clothing, lifestyle and entertainment inspire me.

Biggest inspiration in the licensing industry?

It’s difficult to choose one person as I’ve been fortunate to meet so many amazing people along the way. One of my biggest inspirations within the licensing industry is my former boss and now mentor Stacey Bates-McCue (formerly of SEGA, now Fluid Designs) who took a chance on my leap of faith into the licensor side of the industry. Stacey’s work ethic and dedication to every project she works on is inspiring and I often find myself saying “What would Stacey do?”

Best thing about your current role?

The best thing about being the PD manager at SEGA is the variety of product submissions and projects I get to work on – one day I’m approving biscuit wrappers for Spain, the next I’m developing designs for a collection for London Fashion Week!

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

There are so many projects I’m proud of. I had the pleasure of working on a collection of SEGA x PUMA sneakers which sold out in three days, or there’s the capsule collection for London Fashion Week, or maybe the 25 unique art pieces for an art gallery exhibition, the list goes on. However I must admit, something which always puts a smile on my face is when you’re walking down the street and see a child wearing a t-shirt you have worked on. That’s when you know the work you’ve done has truly touched the hearts and minds of the people you work hard to please.

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

Everyone wants to be Sonic the Hedgehog, right? He’s so cool and he always puts his friends first. Actually, a few years back there was a collaboration with Mr. Men and Henry Holland. They created Mr. Quiffy, this cool Mr. Men character with a huge smile and great hair! I still want one of those mugs.

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

I couldn’t believe it. I had to ask a colleague to read the email to ensure I was reading it correctly. It’s such an honour to be shortlisted for an award within an industry I feel so passionate about. The variety of candidates this year is fantastic and I look forward to sharing this experience with them.

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

I will keep developing my skills and knowledge within the industry and hope to really make a name for myself as a commercial and considered PD manager. Who knows, perhaps a rising star of the future will be asking “What would Samuel do?”. One thing’s for sure – this is only the beginning…

The Licensing International UK Rising Star award will be presented as part of The Licensing Awards, which take place on Tuesday September 10 at The Grosvenor Hotel, London.

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