Why and how did you get into the Toy and Game industry?
Like a lot of people I ended up here accidentally, I took a job covering a sabbatical cover for someone and ended up being promoted to Head of Product Marketing in under six months on a permanent basis so I stuck around. The chance to play with toys and review children’s TV programming seemed like a perfect job to me and one which many of my friends and husband thought I was made for as I have yet to grow up.
What trends do you see in toys or games that excite or worry you?
The tech toys coming through are exciting and potentially worrying at the same time – exciting for the potential and engagement but worrying on other levels too. Worrying because of a potential hacking issue, but also because some companies seem to add a ‘tech’ element simply as a way of feeling they are being ‘relevant’ to today’s child when too often these elements are not properly thought through and the real play element is lost. I am also concerned the tech toys are taking away the really basic nature of play for kids and becoming a barrier to real human interaction between kids and kids and their parents. Nothing can beat the benefit of eye-to-eye contact with another person especially when you are playing. On that note it’s exciting to see traditional board games are ever popular and becoming more varied as time goes by.
What advice can you give to inventors who are presenting new toy or game ideas to you?
Be prepared – ensure you have thoroughly thought about the end consumer playing the game before you pitch to anyone.
What was your favorite toy or game as a child?
My favorite board game was “Sorry!” which is also called “Trouble” but my older brother and I played cowboys and robbers almost every day in the holidays with our neighbor - but I have to admit I still haven’t quite forgiven him for always making me be the deputy and using the best cap guns…
What does your typical day look like?
Waking up and doing some yoga stretches then getting my six year old son ready for school/holiday club including getting his homework done, then school run and back to my home office to work for my Bee Licensing clients. Each day varies depending on who I am working for at the time. My day always has to start with a very strong coffee post the school run to get me kick started.
What is the worst job you’ve ever had and what did you learn from it?
Not so much the worst but the weirdest job I’ve ever done was while at university – that involved manually recording loads of coal being loaded into a ship in a coal pile on the docks. I had to sit in a caravan for 12hours and watch through the window as loaders drove from one pile of coal to another. What did I learn? Don’t tell your mother you have a holiday job working from a caravan in the docks – they tend to misinterpret what you’ve said…
What inspires you?
Music and people who give things a good crack just to see if something is possible. Good people and laughter also give me inspiration and energy.
Where were you born?
I was born in a farming town called Ashburton in the South Island of New Zealand
Where did you grow up and how did that influence who you are today?
Growing up in NZ we weren’t so exposed to a ‘class system’ like the UK but also we did not have access to the same things as people in the UK or US did so had to learn to make our own way. This influenced me to help me think more broadly for problem solving – always trying to find a way through. But being from NZ also meant having a more level approach when meeting people – Kiwi’s tend to value people by who someone is as a person and by their actions not by what job they do or what school they may have gone to. It helps give a more open approach in business.
What is one mistake you’ve made, and what did you learn from it?
Staying in a job I hated where I was working for a bully for too long – I learned no amount of stress is worth it – it is better to get out and stay sane.
What do you read every day, and why?
For work I read the various licensing and toy trade press to keep up with all the news to ensure I stay relevant. On a personal side, I read Flipboard – the app that pulls in all the news, culture etc from global publications – its brilliant!
What is your favorite gadget, app or piece of software that helps you every day?
I can’t live without my iPhone as it has my contacts etc in it. The “train line” app is incredibly useful when I need to commute.
How do you jumpstart your creativity when you find yourself stalled on a project?