Head of Global Licensing at Abysse Corp
Class of 2004
Tell us a bit about your career after leaving Sheffield Girls’?
After graduating from university I started my career as a 3rd assistant director at Emmerdale. However, I quickly realised that it wasn’t the role for me.
As I was contemplating my options, I was called by an employment agency I’d done summer work for and they said that they had a role at a company they thought I’d be a perfect fit for, so I moved back to Sheffield and took the job.
I ended up at GB eye in Sheffield, for 13 years, progressing from “Sales administrator” to “Head of Licensing”. During this time I met my (now ex) husband and had two children, a girl and a boy. During the pandemic I was approached by one of our French competitors and asked if I’d like to take on the role of “Global Head of Licensing'' for them – it was too good an opportunity to turn down as the new company, Abysse Corp is currently on a huge upward trajectory with an estimated turnover of €70million for 2021. Then, in early 2021, Abysse actually bought GB eye so I am now running the combined portfolio of over 180 licences.
What is licensing?
Licensing is a little known industry but once you know about it you’ll see the results everywhere – licensing is the use of other people’s intellectual property on items, marketing, clothes, films etc. My role involves negotiating contracts with the likes of Warner Brothers, Disney, Toei Animation, Viacom, Activision etc to get the rights to produce products featuring their brands. I then manage the relationships through the duration of the contract and (if it’s a successful deal) I’ll then manage the negotiations for the renewals. The role involves international travel with annual trade shows in Las Vegas, New York, Hong Kong and London as well as visits to our ten offices around the world.
What have been the biggest challenges in your career? And the most rewarding parts of your job?
I believe that women still have to work harder in business to achieve than men do and this has been an obstacle at varying points in my career – especially once I’d had children as you are then assumed to be unavailable or less invested in the business.
There have been a number of legal situations that have arisen that I’ve had to deal with which were really tough at the time but were such great learning opportunities that I’m grateful for them.
The most rewarding part of my job is fighting hard to win a contract and then, once it’s secured, watching our team pull together such amazing, innovative products and bringing fantastic ranges to market. I then enjoy presenting back to licensors at business reviews and showing them how well we are doing, proving that they made the right decision in choosing to partner with us.
I also love the social side of licensing, as it’s an industry based on relationships, there are lots of networking events and opportunities and as such you get to meet loads of really interesting people.
What was your most memorable moment as a pupil at Sheffield Girls’?
My most memorable moment was playing Toad in Wind in the Willows in the annual school play. It was an amazing experience and so much fun!
Did your education at Sheffield Girls’ influence your career?
My education at Sheffield Girls’ definitely influenced my career – it gave me the confidence to present to rooms full of people, to explain myself eloquently and to be able to hold my own in meetings that are still often predominately run by men. The all rounded education we received meant that skills I had taken for granted were deemed very valuable once I started working and therefore made me worth more to the business.
What advice would you give your younger self (when you were at school)?
The biggest piece of advice I’d give my younger self is to stop worrying so much about other people's opinions and work out what I want. I’d also tell myself to start exercising for fun! I didn’t realise it could be fun until I hit my 30s and now it is the best form of stress relief imaginable not to mention a huge part of my social life but back then I was too embarrassed so didn’t invest in myself.
What advice would you give sixth form pupils at Sheffield Girls’ today?
My biggest piece of advice would be to not rush into anything – if you need longer to decide what to do, take some time, try different things. University doesn’t have to happen straight away. The same goes for relationships – someone gave me some great advice the other day, you shouldn’t go into a relationship so that someone else can make you happy – you are in charge of making you happy and that’s where you need to be before involving anyone else.
Emily is happy to speak to any students or alumnae wanting to know more about her career. Get in touch with Mrs Gardner a.gardner@She.gdst.nt for more information.
A-levels: French, Geography, Theatre Studies and AS Level English Language
University: Broadcasting at the University of Leeds