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People Profile: Maria Ancieta-Risher, Partner at The Licensing Insiders image

People Profile: Maria Ancieta-Risher, Partner at The Licensing Insiders

The global licensing community is powered by an incredible group of professionals whose diverse backgrounds and creative energy drive innovation and excellence. Each week we’re profiling one of these professionals in this ongoing series.

How did you get into licensing (or how did licensing find you)?
I was a buyer of private label at Babies “R” US when I saw that Disney was looking for people to grow its Latin America business. I have a passion for international business, having grown up in South America, so I applied to the Disney Consumer Products Latin America team based in Miami, FL and was hired. I did a two-year assignment in Puerto Rico and then moved to the U.S. team based in Burbank, CA a few years later and fell in love with the world of entertainment licensing.

What’s a “typical” day in your current position?
No day is alike. As a consultant, my day starts with keeping up with trends and news in the industry, talking to clients, prospecting new clients, speaking with my partners about current projects, and ideating on new approaches. I try to fit in a networking lunch or coffee, as there is always something to learn from others.

What’s your biggest personal or professional accomplishment?
Being a wife and mother to my wonderful family is my biggest joy in life.  When I look at my journey from coming to the U.S. as an exchange student from Bolivia and then dreaming of building a professional career here, I feel proud and thankful for the people along the way that helped as I paved my way to achieve my dream. You must have the vision, the dream, determination, and be lucky to find great leaders, mentors, and friends that will help you, open doors, and support you along the journey. 

What are the most significant trends or changes that you’ve seen in the business in recent years?
Gone are the days of “content is king” as we used to always say. Now, its content, content consumption patterns, distribution across all platforms, speed to market, cultural relevance, and omnichannel marketing to reach the consumer. Just as the consumer has changed, the way they consume content has also shifted. It is exciting to see more integration of cultural diversity and representation, music, art, and food brands in the licensing world.

What keeps you up at night? What’s your biggest challenge these days?
The challenge is to keep a sense of purpose. As a mother of Gen Z twins, I see the effects of social media in young people. There are so many positive stories that can be told to inspire, motivate, give hope, and inspire creativity in young people. I would love to find those underrepresented stories and work with content creators to build purposeful and relevant licensing programs.

In your opinion, what is the top skill every licensing executive should have in order to succeed?
The ability to build relationships cannot be understated. When I look back at my career from Disney to Universal, what I treasure the most is the amazing and talented people I have been honored to work with.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received, or what’s your favorite quote?
Whenever I was doubting myself, my mother—who was my biggest cheerleader and role model—used to tell me to “look at the person in the mirror.” You are the only person that can bring you happiness, it all starts with your attitude and believing in yourself. To this day, I remember her words and seek to always self-reflect, learn, have faith and confidence, and keep going for my dreams and goals.

What is your favorite licensing deal of all time? (It doesn’t have to be one that was signed by you.)
When Andy Mooney ran Disney Consumer Products, I was lucky enough to work at Disney and saw first-hand how his approach changed the industry and the way we think of franchises today. Even though it was not a licensing deal, uniting the Disney Princesses under one brand and creating a one-voice approach to inspire little girls is one of my favorites of all times. Of course, this led to some of the biggest licensing deals and creating one of the most everlasting franchises in history.

If you weren’t in licensing, what would you be doing now?
I have always loved being a citizen of the world. I have a passion for languages—I speak German, Spanish, English, and conversational Portuguese, and I would love to learn French and Japanese. If I weren’t in licensing, I would have loved to teach languages at the college level.

The last licensed product I bought was…
The Lancome x Emily in Paris lipstick. I am a fan of the lipsticks, the show, and the brand!

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