Rising Stars

We teamed up with recruitment specialist, Aardvark Swift to scour the toy market for the trade's up and coming youngsters...
Publish date:

Our rising stars may well be forming the next generation of industry beterans in buying, marketing and brand management. Here, in no particular order are our hot prospects.

James Oddy,
28, Designer, Disney Store Europe

Oddy works in the creative department for Disney Store Europe, based at The Walt Disney headquarters in Hammersmith.

His position at Disney encompasses a variety of design roles, but he’s mainly responsible for the origination of branded packaging for Europe and America. As well as the ability to engineer structures, he also creates unique packaging ranges, packaging style guides, one-off bespoke designs and, with the use of 3D software, high spec visuals. He is always focusing on the eco credentials of all his designs, reducing all packaging where possible and creating fun, storytelling, quality global packaging.

Oddy is also involved in approving supplier artwork and providing creative direction and graphic production to marketing and Visual Merchandising departments. This can vary from POS systems to window displays and even in-store theatrical lighting displays.

Kirstie Oliver,
26, Marketing Manager, Jumbo

Oliver has assumed full responsibility for Jumbo’s marketing team. She has brought a huge creativity and enthusiasm to a role that encompasses product development, licensing strategies and getting incredible depth of activity out of a marketing budget – so vital in a period of recession and a declining toy market. Colleagues say she has a great future in the toy industry and is a huge asset to Jumbo Games.

Richard Venner,
27, Product Development and Brand Manager, Corinthian Marketing

Venner has led a team of three people to develop Disney MicroWorld figures and Ben 10 Marbz marbles, as well as establishing the brand look of Puppy, Jungle and Pony In My Pocket in the UK.

Emma Starkey,
28, Business Account Manager, Hasbro

Starkey has worked at Hasbro since she graduated from university six years ago. She has worked as a national account manager on Sainsburys and Tesco before being promoted to business account manager on Toys R Us. In her current role, Starkey is responsible for the Boys and Games categories. She really enjoys working with her customers to help take exciting new products to the market.

Emma Eden,
27, Marketing Manager, Vtech

Eden’s role covers the marketing across all VTech brands, in particular the consumer and trade PR, TV promotions and online partnerships. Eden lives and breathes VTech and is one of the firm’s biggest advocates.

According to one of Eden’s colleagues: “Eden is a rising star, because not only is she creative on the higher profile, more interesting projects, she works very hard on the detail and doing the basics right. No-one has a better understanding of our NPD categories, for example. Eden has made a huge contribution to VTech’s successful year in 2009.”

Ben Beattie,
30, Buyer of Boys’ Toys, The Disney Store

Beattie is responsible for Boys’ Toys, including Action Figures, Die-Cast Vehicles, Radio Controlled Toys, Role-Play Items and Games and Puzzles, working with licensed vendors on existing products and developing his own products exclusively for The Disney Store.

Since receiving his very first pocket money, he always wanted to buy toys.

Beattie joined Disney four years ago at the end of 2005 and began work immediately on a range of products for Disney Pixar’s Cars in 2006. He was given the Disney Spirit Award in 2007 for outstanding achievement and continues to enjoy every new challenge that comes with growing the business further and further through every new release.

Richard Belford,
24, UK Sales Manager, Simba Smoby Toys

Belford is responsible for generating enough sales to ensure the annual growth of the business. He previously worked for Cadbury Trebor Basset for two years as a temp and two years later became logistics co-ordinator. He then went travelling for a year and returned to work for a chain of retail stores as purchasing controller.

He joined Simba in 2006, working for its UK agents on sales, then moved to Hong Kong for a year to work for Dickie Toys (part of the Simba group) as the account manager for the UK selling boys’ toys. Having achieved success there, Belford returned from Hong Kong this year to work at the newly formed Simba Smoby UK office. In total, he has been working for the Simba group for four years. He is responsible for all major national accounts, grocers and major retailers.

Mark Hauser,
24, Commercial Licensing Manager, Winning Moves

Hauser has worked at Winning Moves for nearly two years. On a day-to-day basis he manages the licensing contracts for all its licensed products. That’s over 50 licences, while he’s also acquired many new titles for the firm. He also works on a variety of commercial issues abroad, from Spain to the US, and boasts Spanish as his second language. He gets involved in launching four regional Monopolies per year, bringing in significant revenue for the firm.

Andrew Welch,
29, Product Manager, Bandai

Welch looks after boys’ brands including Ben 10, Power Rangers and Pokémon. With four years’ experience in the toy industry, gained at Vivid and Flair, Welch joined Bandai in 2008. Since his arrival he’s been working on Ben 10, including the development of several items specifically for the UK.

Holly Lackey,
28, Brand Manager, Vivid Imaginations

Lackey is brand manager for Vivid’s Crayola Division and is responsible for launching the US range into the UK, along with product development across toys, kits and girls’ sub-brand Creations. She is also responsible for above and below the line marketing initiatives, including POS, TV advertising and promotions. She’s been pivotal in Vivid and Crayola’s continued growth as the number one arts and crafts brand in a tough market.

Colleagues say Lackey is able to work extremely well with those around her and manages to balance company goals, customer and consumer needs with an acute market awareness.

Kirsty Thomas,
31, Assistant Product Development Manager, Golden Bear

Thomas is an assistant product development manager, alongside the product and brand managers, and develops licensed and non-licensed products.

Having been with the company a number of years, she was recently given the opportunity to move into a product development role and has grown rapidly in this position. She took on the development of licensed products, working with one of the company’s top licences, In the Night Garden, and has shown that her skills in creativity and developing products from scratch are of the highest standard, while also developing other licences, giving them her own twist.

Emma Caple,
26, Product Manager, Bandai

Caple graduated from Winchester School of Art in 2006 with a BA (Hons) in Textile Art and joined Bandai as marketing assistant in January 2007. She looks after girls’ brands including Tamagotchi, KeyTweens, Star Friends and Harumika and was promoted to product manager last year in recognition of her work on Bandai’s girls’ brands. Caple’s and Bandai’s challenge has been to launch into different girls’ categories with KeyTweens, Star Friends and Harumika.

Vicki Elmer,
30, Marketing Manager, Corinthian

Virtually born into the toy trade, Elmer has taken on all TV media buying discussions and gained thorough understanding of the TV media landscape. She has secured sponsorship of the whole Kix Channel for Stinkblasters as well as Jungle In My Pocket, sponsoring Bindi the Jungle Girl on Pop for the whole of September.

Jackie Walsh,
HR Manager, Worlds Apart

Walsh started at Worlds Apart originally in the role of finance manager and took the opportunity to head up HR and Organisational Development in 2005. She is responsible for all things resourcing and was nominated because of her contribution towards ensuring that the Worlds Apart brand is a ‘resource beyond its product benefit’, and making sure that the process of adding value at every level in the organisation consistently delivers new customer value in the market place.



FEATURE: Rising stars

We teamed up with recruitment specialist, Aardvark Swift to scour the toy market for the trade's up and coming youngsters...

10_Jonathan Ross 300.jpg

Star turns

We find out what it takes to turn toys into TV stars and ask: could an appearance on a top show be the most valuable form of toy PR?


Rise of the robots

Now master of its own destiny in the UK and Europe, WowWee is looking to recreate the magic that saw it flying the flag for toy innovation. Graham Spark is the man charged with that task and as he tells Ronnie Dungan, he?s confident the category has plenty to give?


The rise of the mummy blogger

There's nothing better than receiving a toy endorsement from a real mum or dad. But what are the challenges of managing blogs and what do parents really want from you? We ask mums and marketing execs.


Pop Stars: The rise of pop-up shops

From Modelzone to Moshi Monsters and MakieLab dolls, toy brands and retailers are experimenting with temporary retail destinations. ToyNews asks industry members and retail experts whether pop-up shops can work in the toy space.

Garden centres.png

The rise of garden centres

More non-traditional toy shops like garden centres are cropping up and stocking children’s products. But are they making life more difficult for independent toy stores or do the extra sales opportunities for suppliers make them worthwhile?

Featured Jobs