Desk Details: Jody Dankberg, Senior Director of Licensing and New Business Development at Stern Pinball
The global licensing community is guided by an incredible group of senior executives whose diverse backgrounds and creative energy drive innovation and excellence. Each month, we’re profiling one of these professionals in this ongoing series.
How do you start your day?
My days start pretty early by catching up on email. With licensing partners all over the globe, there is always something happening. I pride myself on getting back to people as quickly as possible, resulting in solid relationships within the industry. Playing pinball is the other thing I do to start the day. I’m lucky to have The Walking Dead and Metallica Stern Pinball machines in my home arcade.
What’s one item you always need on your desk?
I always have a guitar with me at my desk. I make sure to have an instrument nearby when working. Music is a big part of pinball and my life in general. You will also find toys—lots of toys—including action figures and sculpts in my workspace and home. I love to be surrounded by pop culture.
What unique skill or characteristic do you bring to your team?
I bring a results-driven way of thinking and passion for pop culture and music that has allowed me to oversee the licensing process for many of Stern’s most-loved pinball machines. I pride myself on my strong project management abilities, exemplary relationship-building skills, thorough understanding of licensing processes and procedures, and out-of-the-box marketing techniques.
What is something you learned at a previous job that prepared you for your current role?
My former position as Director of Marketing and Artist Relations for a major musical instrument manufacturer was very similar to what I do today. Establishing Stern Pinball as both a commercial and a consumer brand with cutting-edge licenses was my main goal. I was able to bring on many of the artists I had previously worked with, including KISS and Metallica, to help the Stern brand gain traction. I continue to leverage my music industry relationships in many ways, including licensed IP and music, partnerships, pinball soundtracks, and more.
What is your favorite aspect of your current role?
My role as Senior Director of Licensing and New Business Development at Stern Pinball allows me to work closely with a variety of innovative, technologically advanced pinball games that feature some of the world’s most beloved licenses. I’ve been honored to work on iconic IPs including Star Wars, Stranger Things, Iron Maiden, Godzilla, Jurassic Park, iconic Marvel IPs, and many more. I’ve worked on more than 30 licensing collaborations so far with Stern Pinball.
What is one thing you would change about the licensing industry?
I wish everyone would use the same approval system. If you know what I’m saying, then you know what I’m saying.
If you had an extra hour in your workday, how would you use it?
With our team working on four to five upcoming games at a time, an extra hour would be priceless.
What is one thing you need to do every day to feel accomplished?
Helping my team get one step closer to product approval always feels great all around. Nothing better than an email that says “APPROVED.”
Are you a carry-on or checked bag traveler?
What do you always have in your suitcase on a work trip?
I always have my iPad and keyboard with me on my work trips.
If you weren’t in licensing, what would you be doing?
I think I would work in the music instrument or toy industry developing new products.
What advice would you give to yourself 10 years ago?
What are you most excited about moving forward?
We’ve got several exciting upcoming projects in the works at Stern Pinball still to be announced. So far this year, our Foo Fighters, Venom, and Jurassic Park (30th Anniversary) games have been a great success. All of these licensing partners have been stellar to work with.