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People Profile: Monika Albers, Founder of Brands Ahead image

People Profile: Monika Albers, Founder of Brands Ahead

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 always loved drawing. As a child I was obsessed with drawing characters like Snoopy and loved to invent new stories for them and then tell (and sell) them to my friends. I am creative and passionate about good design, like to network, and studied business in the U.S., so I found licensing a matching industry to have a career combining my skills and interests.

What’s a “typical” day in your current position?

My days are filled with a lot with networking to close deals, developing new relationships at retail and with licensees, and updating my clients on new trends. In the morning I try to get up early at 7AM to structure the day and have time to read the latest news without any cell phone ringing.  As acquisition of new clients is key for running your own business, I tend to work with my German customers early in the morning followed by the U.K. in the afternoon and late evenings I focus on U.S. clients.

What are the most significant trends or changes that you’ve seen in the business in recent years?

I think the biggest change is the way information is being shared and the slow take-over of artificial intelligence, digitalization, and platform-based business. Now, you need to take a licensed subscription of nearly every service you want to use. Goods and brands are more perceived by the service and experiences they offer than their quality, as quality is just expected and hard to measure online. I personally believe that the Metaverse and NFTs will have a very strong impact on our daily lives in the decade to come. But it will take a while until they will be adopted by the masses and some industries. Fashion, for instance, is already capitalizing on it significantly.

What keeps you up at night? What’s your biggest challenge these days?

The biggest challenge is definitely to convince clients to invest in digital marketing and innovation. The decision makers sometimes are used to an old way and prefer what they know despite missing big opportunities.

In your opinion, what is the top skill every licensing executive should have in order to succeed?

You need to have a curious mind, be resilient, ready to go the extra mile, have great contacts, and understand the challenges of your customers (and offer solutions). For women, I recommend a course for balance sheet analytics so they can be more easily promoted to become the next CEOs.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received or what is your favorite quote?

If you can dream it, you can do it. Thank you, Walt Disney!

What is your favorite licensing deal of all time? (It doesn’t have to be one that was signed by you.)

My favorite licensing deal was a pan-European agreement for Hello Kitty back in the days before it was big. In order to do this deal I had to find a company that we could buy, and finally found one in Italy. Also, I had the luck that an existing licensee of Sanrio and Hello Kitty in Switzerland was about to retire. It was a big effort and a financial risk that we took but, at the end, it paid off well.

If you weren’t in licensing, what would you be doing now?

I would be in Silicon Valley trying to help a company create an improved version of LinkedIn.

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