Spielwarenmesse: These are the TrendCommittee members’ dream jobs – back then vs. now

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These are the TrendCommittee members’ dream jobs – back then vs. now

from Spielwarenmesse eG

When I grow up, I want to be an astronaut, a ballet dancer, or the president of the United States. Children dream big when it comes to their future careers. The members of our TrendCommittee also had other ideas about what they would be doing someday. Right now, their task is to scout out the hottest trends of the toy industry around the world for the Spielwarenmesse®. But how did the TrendCommittee members get to where they are now, and what motivates them day after day?


John Baulch: When I was a child, I wanted to be a footballer or a pop star

I dreamed of becoming a footballer or a pop star. But when my coach at Watford (the professional football club where I was training) told me that if my left foot was as good as my right foot, they would sign me. Unfortunately, my left foot is one good for one thing - standing on!

I went for an interview with a publisher and got the job because the person interviewing me played in a band, as I did. We talked for ages about music and he offered me a job there. One of the magazines they published was a toy magazine – the rest is history. What inspires me now? The toy trade never stands still. So every day there are new developments, new ideas, exciting new products and new directions for the toy market. Writing about toys and observing the way the toy market evolves is a pleasure – and the toy community is full of the nicest, friendliest, most creative bunch of people I have ever worked with.


Clara Blasco: When I was a child, I wanted to be an actress

My family told me that I once wanted to be an actress so I could do any profession. I don’t remember that, but I know I wanted to do numerous professions, such as be a firefighter, ballet dancer and a cartoonist at Disney. During my Disney cartoonist phase, I remember drawing scenes from the film The Lion King, frame by frame and thinking: “Do you really have to draw so much to animate a character?” I could find reasons why I didn’t do any one of these professions, but I’m sure that all of them helped me to choose the one I do today.

I’ve always been attracted to in toy design, and my interest only increased after studying a Master’s in Design Engineering, specialising in Product Design. I met AIJU in order to acquire expertise in this field, and when I finished my degree, I started working with them carrying out design management. Now I really love the idea of helping companies to design better toys and products intended for children and their families through research, innovation and design. Without a doubt, toys help children to grow as humans, to create, to discover, to express themselves and to connect with the all the other living beings. I don’t think there is anything more satisfying than contributing.


Jackie Breyer: When I was a child, I wanted to be an electrician

As a child I wanted to be an electrician. I wanted to build circuit boards by hand using wires and solder. I appreciated the precision and skill required to create something so carefully and the end result of giving it power and watching it work. By the time I got to college, I was no longer sure of what I wanted to do for a career so I took every type of class possible but I found my strongest joy in English and literature classes. In my final semester I realized I actually wanted to be a magazine editor.

When I graduated from Hofstra University I applied to every entry-level magazine editor position in New York City. The first company that offered me a job was Adventure Publishing, as assistant editor for the Toy Book. I couldn’t believe my luck; getting paid to play with and write about toys! I am inspired every day by the people I work with, both my own internal team at the Toy Book and the Toy Insider and my colleagues at toy companies who bring joy to kids by creating and innovating new toys and ways to play. There is nothing better than working with people who are passionate about what they do.


Daniele Caroli: When I was a child, I wanted to be a journalist

I remember being on the balcony of my parents' flat playing with my little sister and my girl cousin and in the imitation game I pretended I was a journalist. The concept was I would investigate in some wrong doing by fictitious people, seeking justice. Since I started working as a journalist, I have always liked my job.

My main job is as international managing editor of the Russian nursery B2B magazine at present. The Italian nursery B2B magazine I had run for 24 years had been closed a few months earlier when I talked to a blogger, an authority in the Russian nursery world. She told me she had an international project in mind and a week later I started working on a brand new magazine with all the contents in both Russian and English and with an international approach. I also contribute to two German B2B magazines by the same publisher, one dealing with toys and the other with nursery products. I am still curious and I like to have first-hand information about the developments in the toy and nursery businesses and share it with people who find it interesting or useful. I like interviewing persons in order to understand what's happening with the companies and the consumers. There's always something to learn.


Axel Dammler: When I was a child, I wanted to be a football reporter

I always wanted to be a football reporter: I used to write down when which player would score a goal and would announce it into the plug of our flat iron. I would record my commentary with a cassette recorder and proudly play it for my parents and grandparents. As a teenager, however, I was not interested in football anymore at all, and the case was closed. Today I think it might have actually been a pretty cool job after all.

During university I tried out many different things, e.g. working as a writer for the German TV show Der Preis ist heiß and an advertising agency. But – believe it or not – market research was the most interesting for me. So, after finishing my studies in 1992, I applied for various jobs and, as luck would have it, got a job at a children and youth research institute. Kid’s products are fun – plain and simple. But most of all, it is exciting to see how childhood has changed over the years. I got to experience first-hand how digitalisation made its way into children’s rooms or how East German and West German childhoods became intertwined. Because society never stops moving, the process of change will keep going. That is what makes my job thrilling every day.


Steven Ekstract: When I was a child, I wanted to be a documentary film producer

I wanted to be a documentary film producer, because I recognized from an early age that film elicited strong emotions in me and I believed that telling stories through a visual medium was a way to influence change. I majored in Visual media at University and did my Internship in Documentary production. What changed my mind was seeing the bureaucracy of a Government Institution and how difficult it was to get projects approved. I decided I wanted to work in the Private Sector where decisions can be made quickly.

Then I was working in journalism for the entertainment trades and in 1998 I was recruited to launch a magazine for the business of Licensing. Over the years, I helped develop our Licensing Events business from one local Event for the US into five Global Events. In 2018 I was asked to create a new role as Brand Director for the Global Licensing Group. In this role I act as the Group’s Brand Ambassador to our customers and I am charged with figuring out where and what are the next trends for consumers. The business of licensing touches every conceivable area of consumer products and experiences. Every day is exciting because there is always something different to focus on and learn about. 


Philippe Guinaudeau: When I was a child, I wanted to be a pilot

My dream was to be a pilot, flying any type of aircraft. In my youth, I read these stories about heroic adventurers, discovering the world and fixing things while having this high sense of freedom when flying. Unfortunately, I was convinced by my family not to pursue this dream. I have always regretted it because I learned that you have to follow your dreams no matter what happens, if you feel that you can reach it.

How I got my current job? The easy way: I created it. There are three different things that I love about my job and inspire me every day: First of all, from an issue a client has, imagining a system that answers their needs: to design a methodology, to build the right data collection tool and to get to the bottom of it. Secondly, to give sense to the numbers. It always amazes me that behind the numbers are stories about human lives. Exploring, discovering and linking all the numbers into facts and life’s pieces is a permanent stunt. But more than anything else, trying to convey my findings to my clients, in a way they do not feel influenced by me but convinced, is really my inspiration every day.


Lena Hedö: When I was a child, I wanted to be a physical education teacher

When I was a little child I wanted to become a physical education teacher, but when I was going to seek the education, you needed a top grade to get the education and I was training gymnastics every day and had no time to study that much to get top grades.

I got my current job because the board of the Swedish association asked me to take the job. Now I have the chance to meet people, stay in touch with international colleagues and learn new things about the industry.


Gabriela Kaiser: When I was a child, I wanted to be a veterinarian

I always wanted to be a veterinarian because I loved animals when I was a kid but was never allowed to have one at home. The problem is that I do not like all animals, for example I am terrified of snakes. I became aware of the fact that I would not only be treating the cute and cuddly animals I loved.

Now, I am a designer. As a designer, I have always spent a lot of time with trends, so it was only a question of shifting my focus to trends completely. In my work, I let myself be inspired by anything and am open to everything.


Urszula Kaszubowska: When I was a child, I wanted to be a shop assistant

When I was 6-7, I wanted to work in a shop. Then, in the early 80’, in Poland we had big crisis, many basic goods were unavailable. Only people, who work in a shop, could easily get some goods. I thought if I worked there I would have power like anyone else. My dreams about being a shop assistant passed away when I realized that you have to be good at math and I wasn’t and I think I have just grew out of it, when the crisis was over  and the shop assistants became normal people just like anyone else.

I can say that my current job was happy coincidence. After 18 years of working for the big publishing house I decided to resign because I felt that my work no longer gives me joy and satisfaction. On the same day my colleague told me that she knows someone who is looking for editor in chief in his own publishing house. We made an appointment and I got a new job! Now, other people inspire me the most. People I talk to every day about their business ideas, their successes and failures, about different problems and obstacles at work.


Sujin Lee: When I was a child, I wanted to be president

I wanted to be a president but when I was 17, I realized that the president is not a man who can do whatever he wants to do and it will only make my family's life difficult.

In 2013, I had a chance to start new things in my life and I wanted to start a business for my family with the thought of a child coming soon. What motivate me every day? The coffee in the morning so my thoughts will be well organized, the clicking sound of typing keyboard that increase my concentration and will bring new ideas to my mind, listening to music and the newspaper after lunch. Especially when I read an article about another company, I come up with an idea to apply to my company or to my clients. 


Reyne Rice: When I was a child, I wanted to be an actress.

As a child I wanted to be an actress. Trying on new identities and wearing elegant costumes was a cos-play dream come true. It was a way to step completely into different worlds, and to bring the characters on the written page to life. It became apparent that acting presented a less-stable profession, always having to audition for and seek out new roles. Living next door to Hollywood, I grew up as a star-struck youth.

My career started with 5 years at Ogilvy & Mather TV production and account management. Then I shifted to Mattel, where I spent over a dozen years in licensing, international marketing and new product development for Barbie, Disney and more. Next stop, NPD Research, where I learned about consumer behaviours and the stats recording the industry buying trends. In 2003, I started my own ToyTrends business, I created my role as Industry Expert/ Global Trend Hunter. I work with trade associations, Fortune 500 manufacturers and Entertainment Studios, and mid-tier and smaller companies. My world-wide colleagues and network partners have become friends and I am grateful for this. At each new industry event I am a big sponge, absorbing the latest techniques, trends and products that are being developed. Besides, it is my job to play and promote playful experiences. What could be more fulfilling! 


Jane Wong: When I was a child, I wanted to be an accountant

When I was a student, I wanted to be an accountant, which is a necessary position for every business firm. I thought it would be easy to get a job. In high school, I found myself a laggard in mathematics. This made it difficult for me to apply for accounting program in university. So I gave it up.

Initially, I got the job as an associate editor and journalist. A few years later, I got promoted as the vice director of editing department responsible for covering international fairs and markets. This job broadens my horizon and endows my insights into this fast-developing industry. In this ever-changing world, I am as curious as a child, eager for fresh ideas in design, manufacturing and marketing. Creativity and innovation are salient in toy industry. It is especially interesting to spot differences among toy industries at home and abroad. That motivates me every day!


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