International Women’s Day Spotlight: Keli, VP Program Director

For International Women’s Day this year we’re talking to some of the Wagestream Women about what it means to them and their experiences in their different fields of work.

Hi Keli, what’s your role here at Wagestream?

I’m VP Program Management at Wagestream.

What does this year’s theme, ‘#equalforeach’, mean to you?

It reminds me that we’re not equal and that we need to keep striving/reaching to create that world we want. And we’re not going to get there alone.

You’ve spent a lot of your career working in male dominated industries and roles. What has that been like? What have you learnt from your experiences?

I’ve worked on a couple teams where I was one of the few females. While there weren’t many women, it wasn’t the aggressive “bro” culture that you hear about.   I’ve also work at a company/on a team that was nearly all women.

I think particularly because of the type of role, where I lead projects and teams, I needed to develop a strong sense of myself.  I needed to be more comfortable saying what I think and how I felt about things. But that didn’t come easily and still now I need to gather up my strength sometimes.

You previously worked in the gaming industry. Do you think that there is still a strong bias towards men? If so, what can we do to try and change that?

There’s been a rise of casual gaming, and particularly mobile games, where you didn’t need to be a well funded company to put your game out there (much like YouTube for video and SoundCloud for music).  These snack-sized game experiences that you could play for just a few minutes were very different than the time consuming experiences that were the mainstay before. When these casual games started pulling in respectable money for a low investment, the industry took notice. 

One of the most effective ways to change this is with your money. Companies made games for men because they thought that was who would buy games.  When women and men spend money on the type of game they like, that is what matters. Most companies want to make money. Purchasing power is power.

You’ve built your career working in the infamous San Francisco Bay Area or ‘Silicon Valley’ as it’s more colloquially known. What was that like and how is it different to working here in London and at Wagestream?

It is funny because my whole career has been in the San Francisco Bay Area in Tech so there is a certain feeling/mentality that I assumed was in Tech companies no matter where it was located.  But as I’ve worked with teams in different cities and countries, and now I am based in London, I can see how SF is it’s own bubble.

What would be your one piece of advice to women starting a similar career path to yours?

I think particularly when you are in a role where you run projects and teams, you need to realise that you can’t make everyone like you.  If you optimize for people to like you, you won’t be able to make the tough decisions. And when you run a project, your role is to balance often conflicting demands to deliver successfully.  This means you may need to  

In any role, my advice is, think about your brand.  Not from a flashy, fluffy standpoint. I mean, to your teammates and your managers, what do you want to be known for?  Do you want to be the dependable one that always delivers? Do you want to be the one that can bring the most creative and original ideas? Don’t try to be everything.  Find your focus and work on delivering that. When you get some good traction, layer on another dimension. Being meh at a few things won’t get you far.