Every month, we pick the brain of an up-and-coming talent. This month’s Rising Star is Georgina Felce, studio operations manager at Big Pixel Studios. She talks about shaping the culture of a company growing at lightning speed (and how you deal with such growth) and the importance of discussing mental health in the workplace.
How did you break into games?
I didn’t realise games was a viable industry for me until I met my partner who was a game designer for King at the time. I started attending events with my partner and felt more connected to the people I met there than I had in my current industry so I started looking for a way in. I was working as a project coordinator in the operations department at the time and was struggling to find roles that matched my skillset, but it just so happened that Rovio was looking for an office manager and wanted to recruit out of the industry! That position was unfortunately short-lived when the studio was shut down in March 2018. That was when I was really exposed to the true spirit of the industry: I was inundated with support and that’s how I progressed into my current role at Big Pixel Studios.
What is your proudest achievement so far?
Big Pixel has allowed me the freedom and autonomy to build its operational processes from the ground up in collaboration with WarnerMedia. Since joining the team last April, I’ve had the opportunity to install and shape an effective recruitment process which has enabled us to grow not only rapidly but thoughtfully, ensuring new employees are aligned with our highly collaborative company culture. Growing from five to 35 within the space of 11 months hasn’t come without its challenges, but we’ve built a really lovely and remarkably passionate team that I’m incredibly proud of and have just moved into shiny new studio to match!
What’s been your biggest challenge so far?
I suffer with anxiety and have fought to hide it for most of my career. The past few years we have taken huge steps in breaking the taboo about discussing mental health in the workplace and it’s more relevant than ever. The team at Rovio London was refreshingly open in talking about it which gave me the confidence to continue the conversation with my current boss and colleagues.
“You’ll learn what doesn’t work for your company and you need to be fast to react. Constantly evaluate and question your processes.”
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love working with people. My job enables me to work and communicate with every single member of the studio and I really enjoy it. It’s great to get to know everyone on a deeper level, we grew at such a fast pace I think it’s really important not to lose the human aspect of being a smaller studio.
I also enjoy that every single day is different from the last, despite my efforts to forward plan! I’m involved and run several projects across the studio which allows me to constantly learn new skills and test my current abilities – it’s definitely not a boring desk job!
What’s your big ambition in games?
I’m not sure if my big ambition is completely realised in my head yet, but I’d like to become more involved in improving the accessibility of the gaming industry, especially at school-age. I know for sure when I was at school I had a very limited knowledge of the industries available for me to pursue a career and I believe that lack of education contributes to the diversity debt we have in the industry at the moment. I think studios can and should do more to improve this issue, and it can be as simple as opening up our studios and inviting schools in or sending employees into schools for careers days.
What advice would you give to someone expanding a studio at great speed?
Accept failure as a lesson learnt and learn quickly. I don’t believe there is a right way to handle growth, but you’ll most certainly learn what doesn’t work for your company and if time isn’t on your side you need to be fast to react. Constantly evaluate and question your processes; just because it worked for five people doesn’t necessarily mean it’s scalable and will work for ten, 15 or 20 people.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask for advice both internally and externally, your employees are your greatest resource and the best feedback always comes from those who have experienced it. I’ve found that reaching out to similar companies that have similar experiences is a great way to avoid pitfalls in rapid growth. This industry has been incredibly open to sharing knowledge.
If there’s a rising star at your company, contact Marie Dealessandri at firstname.lastname@example.org