Meet the Squad: Women @ SI - Part 2

Meet the Squad: Women @ SI - Part 2

Posted: Aug 08, 2023 by SI Admin

The second of three blogs showcasing some of the brilliant female voices at our studio

Talent wins games but teamwork wins titles.

It’s through collective passion and collaboration within the studio that we are able to continue to break new ground with each edition of Football Manager.

This hinges on not only the technical capabilities of our teammates, but also our diversity of thoughts and perspectives. It’s something we hold dear to our hearts here and we are very proud to be an equal opportunities employer, which encourages applications from all relevant candidates.

We wanted to showcase some of the fantastic female voices at our studio and to that end, we’ve interviewed three of them to learn about their pre-conceptions before working for us and their experiences since joining the squad.

Nicole Strauss

Nicole Strauss: Hello, my name is Nicole and I'm the Lead QA Analyst for Nintendo Switch on our platform team. I’m super happy to be sharing a bit of my story.

I've been gaming my entire life and I've always understood it as a very male-dominated industry in general. I've heard stories about how normalised sexual harassment and derogatory talk are in the industry, so I think it's quite natural that there were worries about joining. However, I applied as a QA tester based on a friend's recommendation since she spoke highly of the company and its values. She's someone I trust so it was cool that a woman in games got me into being a woman in games myself!

In my first team meeting, I realised I was one of only two women on the entire team and I soon became the only one – it makes you painfully aware of what a low percentage we are! To add to this anxiety-pudding, within my first half-year I became a lead. Early on we joked about me being the first female QA lead at SI which lightened the mood a bit, but I admit the laughter gave me an excuse to hide some of the pressure I felt. The "you need to prove your worth" and "you need to show a woman can do this"-y feelings, which are awful, appeared a lot since my neurodivergent brain just wouldn't let me rest or forget what this industry could be like.

But during all of this, I've not once felt like I have been treated differently because I'm a woman. Sports Interactive has since day one quashed my worries one by one by continuously supporting my professional and personal growth like any other team member, regardless of identity. I'm met with respect, kindness, and good jokes, and can discuss opinions with literally anyone in the company.

SI really supports your mental and physical wellbeing as well and has made me see so much hope and greatness in this industry! I genuinely think that if every company aims to be as open, caring and inclusive as SI, this industry will be amazing.

The greatest tip I'd like to share with women wanting to make their way into the industry is to be a bit selfish - focus on you, focus on what you like and what you believe in. Know that your voice matters even when your hands are shaking, or even when it's quiet. Life gets way brighter when you work with something you like, around people who support you, and at a company that aims daily to be the best it can be.

Sophie Harvey

Sophie Harvey: Hey, my name is Sophie and I’m a UI/UX Designer here at Sports Interactive. Aside from designing for FM, I’m usually gaming, reading, and looking after my pets.

From my previous experience in gaming studios, I have held the notion that creative industries, particularly gaming, have an open environment where individuals of all different mindsets can come together to brainstorm and create something special. I did however believe that joining a bigger studio such as SI and SEGA and creating something as big as FM would mean that there would be high expectations and I may need to withstand a high-pressure environment occasionally in order to meet certain deadlines.

I applied for SI as my initial impression was that this studio was humble and down-to-earth. They valued passion and ambition in people. Rather than only considering what vocational skills they can bring to the table, SI seemed to care that they were hiring kind, open and like-minded people with values that aligned with their own. Once I met my potential colleagues in my interviews, I knew that these were amazing and patient people that I wanted to work with and learn from.

I expected SI to be a fast-paced environment with strict guidelines for design that I would need to adapt to in order to design in line with FM’s image. I also expected that due to being a sports games studio, there may not be many women other than myself who I would be meeting and working with and wondered if this might pose a communication barrier that I’d find difficult.

My favourite thing about working here is all of the wonderful people I’ve met here and get to work with! I also love the long list of social opportunities for us such as board game nights, fun Fridays and food!

Working at SI has absolutely altered my preconceptions. Although things in a gaming studio can get challenging, there are no unrealistic expectations from anybody to perform under insane pressure or keep any issues and difficulties you’re having away from the workplace and not discuss them with a person you trust.

SI has a very open and kind culture and during the past year, there has been a vast improvement in the number of women joining the studio. The inclusivity is fantastic and to have our perspectives valued as much as they are has definitely made me feel like an important part of the team.

It's not just women in the studio that celebrate this and the communication barriers I thought may crop up from time to time aren’t a problem. Everyone at SI values communication and honesty and the ability to be vulnerable occasionally or just be yourself is embraced.

The advice I would give to women looking to get into the tech or gaming industries is: Go for it! You can do anything you put your mind to. We live in a fantastic time where many amazing people are passionate about creating equal opportunities for everybody and you owe it to yourself to be happy. I also really believe that a kind, communicative, open personality is just as important for getting your dream job as a pretty portfolio/CV.

Tina Keech

Tina Keech: Hi, my name is Tina and I’m Head of Women’s Football Research here at Sports Interactive, I am the person who just chats about women’s football whether you want to hear it or not.

I applied for SI because I wanted to be part of the growth of women’s football – however, how serious were they about adding women’s football to the game?! After discussions with a few people when I started, I was convinced they were putting everything behind this exciting project.

I expected everyone to be huge football fans but I was wrong. There are people here who really couldn’t care less – except the research team, we are all football geeks!

I personally love that about SI - as much as I enjoy talking about football, talking to other people with different interests is brilliant. So, to those women who have these preconceptions, ignore them because it is not like that at all. At SI they support you to fulfil your potential and do what you love!

A Final Message 

We understand that it isn’t easy to break into what has historically been a male-dominated area, but it’s a barrier we are working hard to break down.

Not only do we actively promote and work with like-minded organisations to reaffirm this message but we are dedicated to ensuring that our studio doors remain open and inclusive to people of all genders.

If you think we could be the place for you to continue your career, then head to our Careers page to discover all the open roles that we are currently recruiting for.