From specialist to leader. How it’s done in the game industry?

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Women in IT are still a minority. According to the study of Stack Overflow, as many as 91% of programmers are male. In Poland, women account for only 5.9% of all IT specialists. Let’s add a leader position to that. Impossible? And yet!

Setting new goals, inspiring with knowledge and constant learning – this is only a part of a leader’s responsibilities. According to Kantar’s study, women in high positions introduce a new quality to organization management. Natural ability to communicate is one of their advantages. Combining it with empathy helps to bring teams together. Interviewed leaders claimed that women were more determined, hard-working and better at risk assessment and time management. These responsibilities and the history of developing in a company are in the interview with Hanna Węgrzyn, User Acquisition Leader.

If you haven’t heard about this position, here’s an explanation. UA specialist creates not only attractive ad campaigns but also analyses strategies that make the game popular. The leader of UA has to inspire trust, show a lot of courage and pass on positive energy to colleagues.

Tell us about your career path. How did it all begin?

I have always seen myself in the tourist industry. I graduated in this field, got a job in a travel agency, and it turned out it wasn’t for me 🙂 Hard and exhausting work in the high holiday season changed too much off-season. In addition, sales in this form weren’t specific, and I was looking for something special at work. Apart from tourism, I was strongly intrigued by digital marketing. The more I learned, the more I knew it was a good investment in the future and decided to rebrand my career. And this is how it started with SEO.

Did you aim at a leader position from the beginning?

I joined TSG in 2013 when no one knew anything about game dev 😉 The company was a startup of 30 people, and its office located in Biskupin, Wrocław (the other end of the world for me). The recruitment team was looking for an SEM Specialist. Unfortunately, I didn’t have much experience in this field, so I thought it was a chance for me and a good idea to spread my wings. I didn’t plan to stay. I thought: „I’ll gain experience and find something closer to the city center”. Now, after 7 years, when I think about how the company has changed since then, I know I also have come a long way through performance marketing. Thanks to the fact that I always had a free hand to all actions and permission for the craziest ideas, I could learn everything I dreamed of and test most solutions on a “living organism”. The company grew day by day, new products appeared – so the demand for more UA specialists grew as well, and I could help them master this business industry. Due to a lot of learning, now it’s time to share my knowledge and experience with them. So, to answer your questions, I didn’t aim at a leadership position, but somehow it happened, and I’m happy 🙂

And it didn’t happen out of the sudden; I worked for it for 7 years! Many would lose hope 😉

My „team” grew very slowly, from one person to currently four. I could easily prepare for the role, polish it, look for more people to join the team. However, apart from the willingness to teach others, I still need to learn, especially because performance marketing is developing so quickly that I will never say I know it all.

What is the most effective tool required to build long-term and solid relationships with your team?

When you say a tool, I think about a pair of pliers or a screwdriver, while the team works like clockwork!

In my opinion, observation is the most efficient, I always liked to do it, and I know that thanks to that I’m able to tell who is more task-oriented, analytical or who needs a more ambitious task to satisfy their craving for knowledge. I also try to keep a friendly relation in the team, and that’s how I know people aren’t scared to approach me with a problem. We always joke together, and in more stressful or demanding moments, I try to take part in solving a problem together.

What is expected from a leader in the game industry?

It’s not easy – I think it’s the best description 😉 Since UA is a relatively new position, no one has created a framework for the personality or skills of such a person. I think the most important features are flexibility and readiness to change, willingness to learn, and teach others. Let’s add a lot of sense of humor and an appropriate distance to the specifics of our industry. If the above is mixed with hard skills, such as sound data analysis, knowledge of proper marketing tools and technical expertise, you can go for a leadership position 😉

There’s a myth that women aren’t suited for the game industry – what do you think about it? How do you feel in the industry that’s considered to be a rather male industry?

Good, thank you 🙂 I don’t feel a big difference when being compared to a “non-leader” woman in our company. No one ever made me feel that a woman in the gaming industry is worse or doesn’t meet work requirements in this field. I always try to treat people equally, no matter what position they hold, and I appreciate the same thing in people with a similar attitude that are “above me”. There isn’t also a bigger difference between men and women – we do what we specialize in, best as we can – this is what makes us experts in the industry. In TSG, people are respected for their knowledge and engagement, not their gender and other aspects.

What is it like to develop in one company for 7 years? What did you learn? Aren’t you bored? Nowadays, young people often change their jobs, look for new challenges – aren’t you drawn to the big world? What kept you in the same company for 7 years?

I can’t believe myself it’s been so long! As I mentioned, I came here for a moment, and suddenly I beat a record of working time for one employer. It’s probably the most tangible proof that you can’t get bored here. Each year was a challenge! We introduced more games – went through other global launches; it’s like changing my job by changing projects. Each project is different, requires a different strategy. My intuition, supported by experience allowed me to reach goals quickly and set new, higher ones. It really keeps me going, and I know here is where I belong!

I never expected to reach such stability in my life. I think I was fortunate to get here and stay until now. Thanks to this, I can develop my skills and interests in direct proportion to the development of the company in the game industry – both in Poland and in the world. And I’m not drawn to the big world because I think our actions in TSG are at the global level and we are better than even the greatest players in the industry in many fields.

Do the requirements for the position go hand in hand with the qualities you have?

It seems so. I’m still learning this role, and I’m trying to gain more knowledge about performance marketing, but I have to admit immodestly that I am fulfilling myself. The hardest part is to find the balance between the standards I set for myself and what I require from others. I try to listen to the opinions of my team or superiors and adjust my attitude to each individual. The industry is not easy, because it requires a constant pursuit of perfection and development of skills. That’s why I try to facilitate it for my team and make their lives a bit easier.

Do you have any advice for beginners who want to start their game dev adventure? And above all, how can a woman find herself in the gaming environment?

Game dev is a very peculiar industry, and I used to think that I didn’t belong here. I didn’t play games, and I didn’t get the point of what’s so fun about it. I was looking for a position in digital marketing, and I knew I wanted to work with an individual client. I took a risk, and I don’t regret it! After a while, it even turned out that I like games, and micropayments are fun 😉 More and more women are working in our company, and slowly but surely, the difference is getting smaller (Ah, shame) ;). That’s why I think that if you’re sure of your interests and want to develop in this direction, don’t be afraid to get into it. In every new workplace, you’ll have a slightly more difficult start during induction, but you can count on an incredible adventure and gaining huge experience. The important thing here is engagement, and directions novices want to develop in.

PS You can always go to our website, check the requirements and contact our HR girls. They’ll certainly answer the most troubling questions!

As you can see, the number of women in the game industry is continuously increasing. For TSG, it doesn’t matter what your gender, age, nationality, or formal experience on paper is, but what does matter is skills you present as well as your commitment, willingness to learn and all the hard work you do at your job.

Thank you for the interview, Hanna! We’ll come back with another portion of knowledge – this time from our top products Game Designers.

 

Natalia Rybarczyk

TSG EB Team