My First Year At Electronic Arts. What Have I Learned?

ea hq

Earlier this week (11th September 2018) marked one year at Electronic Arts and what an incredible year it has been. Joining EA, and the video games industry, has far exceeded my expectations and I’m so glad I put the time and effort into chasing my dream job (I wrote about that journey here). I have also discovered what it’s really like to work in a corporate, how to drink the right amount of Kool-Aid and use the support of my team to help balance fatherhood and work.

I admit that I was little nervous when I started at EA. I was leaving a job, team and company I really liked, I was moving out of London for the first time in 5 years, I had never been a contractor before and I was joining the biggest company of my career. Naively, I thought that making a sideways move meant my learning curve wouldn’t be too steep. I’m so glad I was wrong. This first year at EA has been an education and what is even better is that I can see even more learning opportunities ahead. I’m super excited to share what I’ve experienced with you all.

FOLLOWING YOUR PASSION PAYS OFF

2017

The first video game I ever played was Sonic The Hedgehog on the Sega Mega Drive and from there I was hooked. Since then video games have been a huge part of my life and not only do I adore playing them but I love reading about games and their makers, debate and critique games with friends and watch streamers play games I’ll never even try. The ability to tell stories through such an immersive medium is truly unique.

All of what I said above I still do but it’s now actually beneficial to my job. Dragon Age, Titanfall, FIFA, NHL, Star Wars Battlefront, Need for Speed and Battlefield are all franchises that I play and I will never take it for granted how rare it is to have a personal connection to the products my company creates. I’ve helped make hires in the UK, Ireland, USA, Canada, Sweden, Switzerland and Spain and all of those hires will help create games that I will cherish. My passion is now my career and that makes me very, very happy.

MYTHS ABOUT BIG COMPANIES

permanent job

I left a company that was a start-up success story and when I said I was moving to a corporate I heard things like, “urrgh gross, you’re joining a corporate”, “big companies eat nice people for breakfast” or “I worked in a big company once and it sucked”. None of those are true. Sure, EA is a big company with 13,000+ employees across the world and I will never get to meet all of them but I’m liking being part of such a big family because of the variety of people, teams and cultures. I work with so many teams and each one of them I have my own connection with as well as feeling like I’m part of the wider EA community.

But I must admit the downside of working in a large, matrix organisation is that things can be slow and complicated at times. For example, in my last job I could make an offer, write up the contract and send it out in a matter of hours. At EA on the other hand, it typically takes me a couple of days to get all the approvals I need from budget holders, finance and HR before I can formally extend an offer. But that’s OK. Though the offer process is longer it’s scalable and holds up globally. I’ve learned about the impact of successful processes in the last year and how an excellent framework can empower employees across the world to keep to a high standard.

BEING PART OF A LOCAL AND GLOBAL TEAM

twinning

Processes at EA aren’t perfect but what’s great is that I have the ability to help make changes and my feedback is heard. I admire the transparency from Mala Singh (Chief People Officer) on where we need to improve and how approachable Jesse Connell (VP of Talent Acquisition) and Joseph Marrello (Sr. Director of Talent Acquisition) are even though they’re thousands of miles away. EA’s Talent Acquisition team is a global community I feel comfortable leaning on them for help as well as learning from them. I’ve never been in a company with this opportunity before.

In my previous company, I was the only person in People Operations based outside of the USA which felt isolating at times. Now I’m sat in-person with a team of 6 (soon to be 7) as well as surrounded by other HR functions like compensation, benefits, mobility, business partners and administration. I’ve learned that I’m the type of person who thrives on these direct interactions and I’m so glad I figured this out early in my career.

BRAND ADVOCATE THROUGH GOOD TIMES AND BAD TIMES

stormtrooper selfie

Now don’t get me wrong, just because I keep saying I love working at EA it doesn’t mean I’m blind drunk on the company Kool-Aid. EA has made mistakes in the last 12 months, for example, two months after I started Star Wars Battlefront II was released and unfortunately “the launch of the game did not go as we planned”. But it’s so easy for me to be incredibly positive about EA because of the transparency from Andrew Wilson (CEO) and the leadership team to EA’s employees along with all the inspiring work that happens behind-the-scenes. Hundreds of millions of people around the world care so deeply about our products and that’s why it’s easy for me to remain a strong brand advocate.

BECOMING A DAD

paternity

My last point here is a true blend of work and personal. I became a father for the first time this year and it has been the most amazing experience of my life. Fatherhood is its own steep learning curve and the support of my team and EA has really helped. 4 weeks of paternity leave and the flexibility to work from home I will always be thankful for. My manager is a superb listener and my team know how to rally when I need to take time off.

 

This article skimmed the surface of what life is like at EA, if you want to find out more my email is jburridge@ea.com. Thanks for reading!

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