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Sharing the Disney, Pixar magic

December 13, 2016

Business and Communication News

When Nadia Effendi ’09 was little, she watched Little Mermaid so many times she could recite every line and lyric. Her babysitters back then still like to remind her how they were forced to endure the timeless love story over and over again.

Now in a dream job as assistant manager of licensing for Disney and Pixar Animation properties at Disney Consumer Products, Effendi is helping to bring that same Disney magic into other children’s (and adults’) homes.

Effendi said her job responsibilities can be broken into three categories.

“One, I manage the licensee relationship, so I work with outside companies and vendors to build relationships that we can utilize in expanding our intellectual property on a variety of products,” she said. “I also manage the product development process through partnering with both internal and licensee product development teams.

“And I’m also a brand manager, so I understand the nuances of the properties that we work with,” she added. “I work directly with Disney•Pixar Films as well as Disney Animation films that are more recent, from 1984 to now, including all new theatricals and make sure—from a product and marketing standpoint—the brand elements are consistent and true to each property.”

Although stationed in Los Angeles, Effendi frequently travels to several licensees’ headquarters, like Hasbro and Mattel. “I work specifically in toys and toyetic items like outdoor seasonal, novelties, and games,” she said.

From an insider’s standpoint, Effendi said Cars 3 will be a huge upcoming opportunity, and consumers will start seeing related products on shelves next year.

For Effendi, it’s most exciting to see the end result of her work.

“You know Disney is universal and everybody has a connection, like Mickey Mouse, who is 100 percent universally recognized,” she said. “But you don’t realize how much it touches people until you work for the company. When I see kids playing with the toys I’ve been working on or wearing a backpack with our characters, it’s pretty special.

“Pixar really connects with people from my generation,” she said. “We grew up with Toy Story. The story elements are so relevant and speak to so many different people.

“When we finally finish developing our products that share in the storytelling, we just feel such a sense of ownership. It’s very magical because you get to see the work you do almost instantaneously and on so many different levels.”

The Electronic Publishing and Public Relations double major said the industry is very fast-paced and positions like hers require great communication skills, creativity, the ability to ask questions, and a willingness to try new things.

She credits many of her professors for helping her build these skills. “Dean Beckman was a rock for me,” she said. “He always encouraged me to expand my horizons, try new things, and gave me great feedback,” she said. Beckman encouraged her to apply for a public relations and community interaction internship with The Washington Center, which opened many doors for Effendi.

“That was such a milestone for me,” she said. “It introduced me to the city and got me used to the idea of living outside of Minnesota. I was doing public relations work but also community service work, and fell in love with the area and ended up moving there for my first job.

“Dr. Joe Tadie was another professor who encouraged me to think outside the box, be creative, and challenge what I thought I knew,” she said. “Also, being a part of the soccer team was a wonderful experience. I remember having so much support from teammates and coaches.”

An active college student, Effendi also learned how to balance her schedule and gained time management skills—all valuable traits that transfer to her current hectic career.

“It takes hard work and requires flexibility, but the end result is very gratifying—the ability to be so close to such magical and influential pieces of entertainment is so rewarding,” she said.