Executive profile: “Leave your ego at the door”

Shaun Windsor-Turner, key account manager – nursery and books, at tonies, talks about advocating for retailers and expanding the company’s nursery category.

 

How long have you been at Tonies?

I have been in the preschool and toy industry for most of my working life. I started back in 2002 at the Early Learning Centre and then went on to spend almost 16 years with Toys R Us until their closure in 2018.

I took a brief hiatus after that to travel and joined the nursery industry for four years before returning to my toy roots, joining tonies in April of this year.

 

What is your greatest achievement at the company?

The nursery industry is a key pillar for tonies in our growth strategy for 2022/23, as much of our content is suitable from birth. Heading up an exciting category is an incredible opportunity. Since I joined the business, this category has experienced tremendous growth and I am really excited to see how this category develops. tonies has just been named the fastest growing preschool toy brand over the last 12 months by NPD**.

 

Favourite part of your job?

I have always been a huge advocate for retailers. The sector is full of amazing characters. Their determination and tenacity has always been an inspiration. My favourite part of the job is getting out to the stores, meeting retailers, developing joint business plans and supporting the teams.

 

Who is the unsung hero of the company?

The whole team at tonies really deserves to be recognised for their hard work. The content and licensing team are at the pinnacle of our success. We have recently launched CoComelon which is becoming one of our best-selling Tonies, and we have some fantastic releases coming up this year. The marketing team is also very supportive when it comes to creating beautiful POS to really drive sales in our bricks and mortar stores.

 

What is the biggest change within the preschool industry that you have seen since you have worked in it?

It’s difficult to name just one. I think if we’re focusing on recent changes, I would have to say consumer sentiment. The way people shop these days is constantly changing. Throughout the pandemic we saw a shift toward high-end brands as consumers had more disposable income, and I think that is slowly changing with the cost of living. People want value for money and products that last without breaking the bank.

 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

I would have to say ‘leave your ego at the door‘. At tonies we operate in a culture where everyone has a voice. It’s so refreshing to not only be listened to, but also heard. We have an incredible opportunity to shape the future of the business. There’s no room for egos in our business.

 

Biggest lesson you’ve taken away from the last year?

Take nothing for granted and be ready to evolve, change and improve every day. In the last 12 months I think we have all been put through our paces. Our retailers remain a key focus and we need to be ready for anything they throw our way.

 

If you could change one thing about the preschool industry, what would it be and why?

I would really like to see more diversity. I’m thrilled to be part of the diversity and inclusion taskforce at tonies. We’re all about celebrating those differences that make us all unique. Because we understand the vital role stories play in creating and affirming the world around us, we know how powerful it can be for children (and adults) to see themselves reflected in stories. We are thrilled that we get to partner with some brilliant people like BLM Licensing and Deilight who are doing impressive work in underrepresented communities. I hope other brands follow suit soon.

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