He has fond memories kid and playing with his G.I. Joe action figure and playing video games on his dad’s Atari 2600 console. After all of these years, Kris Stevenson ’07 is still surrounding himself with toys, but now he gets paid to do so.
Stevenson is a senior project manager for Hasbro Inc., the global toy and entertainment company. Since joining the company in 2015, he has been helping to shape the way that kids learn and spend part of their playtime.
So how does an international business major end up in the toy business? It all started after taking a management class at the College and getting to really know one particular visiting professor.
“It ties back to the relationship I had with Professor Steven Mauldin from one of my management classes,” says Stevenson.
Stevenson was in the process of trying to find an internship but was having problems finding the perfect one for him: “I wasn’t interested in logistics, so it was a little difficult to find an internship I wanted.”
After discussing his dilemma with Mauldin, the professor helped Stevenson get an internship with a small company in South Carolina. As part of the internship, he became involved in many facets of the business, including product development work. It was that internship that helped to develop his project management skills that eventually led to a job at Hasbro in Pawtucket, R.I.
Hasbro has a rich history of iconic brands, including Monopoly, Play-Doh, Mr. Potato Head, My Little Pony, Transformers and many other classics. But like a lot of companies, Hasbro has been evolving in the past years to develop products that incorporate more technology and electronics. Stevenson says toys and games have evolved because technology has changed: “We are trying to tap into the technology that these kids are growing up with and apply it to their type of play patterns.”
That is where he comes in.
Stevenson works with a project team that is an intricate part of the entire toy-making process, from product inception through product shipping. “It is a very creative culture here,” he says. “We have a lot of amazing artists, toy designers, game play designers and engineers who come up with these really incredible ideas for toys.”
One of the most recent products that Stevenson and his team worked on is a game called DropMix, a fast-paced electronic music mixing experience that allows players to create unexpected song mixes. It was a big hit – so big that CNN called it one of the top 10 hottest toys of the past holiday season.
While Stevenson says that the classic toys will always be around, “There is a place for both. The standard toys like Mr. Potato Head, Transformers and games like Monopoly will always be there and will stay the same. However, as we are seeing now, there’s a growing market for toys that are more high-tech and offer more engaging experiences.”