Steven Schoenmaekers - JOMO, Magic 8-ball, Driving Innovation at Cartamundi
What do you do in the industry?
I’ve been working for Cartamundi for almost 16 years now and have been part of the group leadership team for about 7 years now. I have always been in a commercial role, starting as Key Account manager for many of our international customers and markets.
Currently as EVP Global Accounts & Innovation, I lead the Global Accounts Commercial team as well as help to drive innovation across different channels at Cartamundi.
What are you working on now?
We are working on and investing in many new exciting innovations in different fields. On the manufacturing side, we have further invested in Digital printing in our Dallas facility, which will open up a lot of new opportunities for our customers to do small runs, personalization, variable printing, on demand printing, etc. We are also focusing heavily on different aspects of Corporate Social responsibility. A good example in this field is our drive to further reduce plastics in our products or packaging by replacing them with ecofriendly alternatives. On the product side, we have been working on many new exciting licensed card games was well as a wide offering for our promotional Industry customers
Besides this, Cartamundi also recently announced that we will soon welcome the United States Playing Cards Company (USPC) and its team of playing cards specialists to the Cartamundi group. I’m really excited about this acquisition and will be supporting a good transition of USPC within the Cartamundi group, together with the leadership team.
What trends do you see in toys or games that excite or worry you?
A huge trend that has been one of the drivers of the growth in tabletop gaming, is the digital detox trend. Whereas 5 to 10 years ago many of us were anxious about the impact of smart devices and mobile gaming on our industry, it is really wonderful to see that millennials as well as families are coming together to have a good time. Sitting around a table and playing games together. More and more people choose to be JOMO (Joy of Missing out) and deliberately opt out of the digital world in favor of more meaningful experiences.
Not really a trend, but something that concerns me are the trade tariffs. Luckily Cartamundi is a little bit outside of this storm. We are not in China and instead we manufacture games in the markets in our US facilities, as well as in the rest of the world. Having said that, tariffs are bad thing for the global economy and for consumers in general. Let’s hope that there is some resolution soon.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
We are in the best industry in the world. The products are just so rewarding – it’s great to create fun and joy products day in, day out.
What motivates me most in my job are 2 things: the international aspect of the job (working closely with international teams) and the wonderful global network of partners, publishers and game inventors. I love to make connections and support to grow the business of all of us and our industry.
How do you recharge or take a break?
I spend a lot of time in airplanes but still, to recharge I often go away on short vacations. This could be as little as just a weekend or a short week. There is nothing as wonderful to reload by exploring a new city or country, visiting new country sides and landmarks or enjoying a new culture or some new local food.
What was your favorite toy or game as a child?
As a child, I was a collector of Playmobil. Really loved to play with the Playmobil trains and build whole villages around it. This is what sparked the little “role-player” in me. I also really liked to play board games, with favorites like Hotel, Upwords, Mystery old Peking, Trivial Pursuit or ‘A game of Knowledge’.
What do you read every day, and why?
Besides reading a local newspaper, I also follow up on what is going on in the Industry mainly through industry websites or using google alerts. Consumer trends, Industry trends, M&A, new product launches, crowdfunding opportunities, developments with our partners and customers, just a few topics I like to read up on.
I’ve always had a curious side, trying to absorb different pieces of information in different domains. At one end I feel it does help me a lot in my professional life and it also come in handy whenever I participate with friends in a local quiz, something I love to do from time to time.
What is your favorite gadget, app or piece of software that helps you every day?
Besides news apps or travel apps like Google Flights, which I find very useful to find the best travel deal, I’m hooked to Candy Crush. Just a few minutes per day, often at night before heading to bed, in a dull moment, in an airport or on another 12h flight, it helps me to take your mind of things for just a while.
How do you jumpstart your creativity when you find yourself stalled on a project?
Whenever I’m working on a project or a business case and I feel I’m stuck, I just leave it for a while, do something completely different, like taking a stroll, talk to colleagues. And if nothing helps, I can always turn to my Magic 8-ball!
When is the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
A week or so ago I played games with bunch of friends. We played Times Up and Pictionary which led to tears of joy with all of us. At the end of the evening we all agreed that we should do that more often. Drinks, friends, games, fun.
What’s your favorite TV show?
Friends – I guess I’m a bit sentimental. Did you know that the character Ross actually invented a board game in season 4?
Favorite movie of all time?
What’s the furthest you’ve ever been from home?
That would probably be Hawaii. As I travel a lot in the USA, I’ve always wanted to make the short jump over Hawaii, which I was able to do in 2017 for a short holiday. I only visited Oahu at that time, but will definitely go back to explore the other islands. I’ve also never made it to Australia or New Zealand yet. This is definitely still high on my to-do-list, spending a few weeks down under.
What’s your beverage of choice?
Gin-Tonic or Beer, in any order.
What are your hobbies?
I don’t like too many silent moments, so I’m really into music. Spotify is my favorite companion app on my solo business travels. I also like movies and lately (whenever I find the time), binge watching some good series on Netflix.
The toy and game industry clearly has a….strong and exciting future ahead. I’m a true believer that Play is important for everybody. You can learn a lot by playing game. Think about working together, strategic thinking or just how to cope with bad luck. All skills you pick up by playing. Play is for all culture and ages and will always be around.
I’m lucky that… I’m part of the toy & game industry and help to share the magic of playing together.
Probably another trip…to another continent… Or another exciting fair.