Fall 2016 Intersection Quarterly Review 2016 - Page 9

9 Interview with Stephen Pasierb of the Toy Industry Association Stephen is the President and CEO of the US Toy Industry Association, a not-for-profit trade association, representing all businesses involved in creating and delivering toys and youth entertainment products to kids of all ages. In his role, Stephen is responsible for leading the growth, development, and oversight of the association, whose more than 750 member companies account for 90% of the US domestic toy sales. Stephen previously served as the President and CEO of the Partnership for Drug Free Kids, the nation’s largest non-profit organization dedicated to reducing substance abuse among adolescents by supporting families and engaging teens . George: Could you please describe the George: The importance of realizing that Toy Industry Association’s unique mission we were all kids at one point could help a and your work within the toy industry, both lot of different areas on the planet. With on a domestic and global basis? that, what inspired you to join the Toy Industry Association and begin serving as Stephen:Absolutely. This is an incredible its president and CEO? honor to be at TIA. This is a fantastic industry. A lot of the leading brands and Stephen: It’s probably because products that people grew up with. As a I’m still a kid at heart. I still love to play. trade association, not everybody’s a It is that natural extension, the work I’ve plumber or a lawyer or a doctor or an done in adolescent public health with kids automobile manufacturer, but everybody’s being at the center of it. It’s a natural been a kid at some point. It’s really extension. My background is as a amazing. The TIA, our organization, just marketing and advertising executive. turned 100 years old. We’ve evolved a Through my work lot through that history. Our assignment at the Partnership, I began to learn the is the growth and health of the toy role of advocacy and being a media industry. I like to say our job is to help spokesperson. Now as the TIA goes into promote and protect the toy industry. its next 100 years, they really saw those The actual mission statement, which as important qualities. When I was sought we’re just in the process of updating, is out by a search firm, I was just over the to provide leadership that promotes moon at the opportunity to have this role. health play. That’s something we can talk I was very fortunate in the end of the about going forward, how important play process to get it, so that all those things is in a kid’s life and facilitate the I learned in the advertising world, all creativity, the responsibility, particularly those things I learned in adolescent public the social responsibility, and the success health, the ability to engage stakeholders of our members. and get the word out about the role and It’s really interesting, an value of play is just that perfect organization that grew 100 years ago to combination that made this, for me at protect the US toy industry around the least, the perfect job. end of World War I when there was this fear that Germany would deluge the US George: How does your role as president market with inexpensive toys as a way to and CEO inspire you to strive and pick up their economy. Today, we literally promote safety and philanthropy to work all over the globe. We’re in countries children through national and global all over dealing with regulatory issues, advocacy? trying to help our members expand into emerging markets. What really began in a Stephen: It’s a really good question; it’s way to help protect and promote 2 parts. On the safety side, one of the American toys 100 years ago is really things I was really struck with when I about what’s become a global industry. came into this role was how incredibly seriously our companies take safety. Product safety is part of giving kids wonderful play experiences, yet how the public perception was that perhaps they have sharp edges or we’ve all heard about recalls that maybe there isn’t that commitment to safety. My role has been over the past year and a half to get the word out about how important safety is to our members. I frequently say there are no margins in unsafe toys. It’s the worst thing that can happen to a toy company to have a product recall or to have something which there are questions about. Our members are relentlessly focused on safety. We’ve got to do a lot as a trade association to educate consumers on their role of safety, picking the right toys for your kids, following age guidelines, getting down on the floor and actually playing with your kids. Those things all play into safety, which is hugely important for us. Then, I was stunned by how great this industry is from a philanthropic standpoint. Right now, we’ve grown to 998 member com