Catherine Channon, senior director corporate communications at Electronic Arts talks about her humble beginnings in the industry, and why communications is like an iceberg
What is your job role and how would you describe your typical day at work?
I head up international corporate communications for EA. In simple terms I look after the communications that relate to, or impact upon the company. It’s an incredibly diverse role that gives me insights into all areas of our business and enables me to visit offices and studios across the globe which fuels my love for travel.
One of the great things about my job is that there’s rarely a ‘typical’ day. There are longer term projects around our overall company story or on specific communication initiatives but that’s peppered with regular requests from across the business and from our external partners/media which can lead my day in any number of directions.
The International remit of my role means in addition to working with my communications peers in California, I also work very closely with our regional offices. I have a window on a variety of markets so it’s interesting to see what trends are occurring across them and the local variations. Both at a high level but also in terms of the day to day conversation around our games. EA’s European headquarters are in Geneva so no matter what the day brings, it pretty much always starts or ends with a run in the mountains or a swim in Lake Geneva for which I always feel incredibly fortunate.
What qualifications and/or experience do you need to land this job?
I worked my way up from the ground, I started out selling used videogames when I left school. Many job ads might suggest otherwise, but there are routes into communications for those without degree level educations if you’re prepared to work hard. I spent a number of years as a journalist working in print, online and broadcast media which gave me an incredibly solid foundation for knowing what press need, how they are motivated and an eye for storytelling. Working in specialist gaming media early in my career also enabled me to begin creating a network of contacts that I lean into to this day.
If you were interviewing someone for your team, what would you look for?
Being a good communicator is a must. You should be able to articulate your own story as well as you would your prospective employer’s. Someone who can build relationships and quickly understand and empathise with the needs of others is also essential.
You also need to be proactive, a self-starter and with the ability to see the bigger picture, often juggling the requirements of multiple stakeholders. Communications can often be like an iceberg – what’s seen on the surface can often hide months, if not years of hard work beneath it.
What kind of opportunities are there for career progression?
There are great opportunities. Long-term many senior communicators elect to run their own agencies, to work as consultants, join start-ups or help craft the stories of bigger organisations. The great thing is that everyone has a story to tell and being great at helping them tell it is a skill for life.