International Women’s Day Q&A with AppLovin’s Female Leaders
Today is International Women’s Day, which recognizes and celebrates the achievements of women from all around the world—and it’s a world that has experienced challenges and changes over the last year.
This year’s IWD is especially significant, as we continue to deal with the economic and political impact caused by the pandemic. Women stand on the front lines to combat COVID-19 as caregivers, health care workers, and community leaders. These efforts align with the #ChooseToChallenge theme to show solidarity and forge an inclusive world.
Recognizing AppLovin’s women leaders
AppLovin’s joining in on these efforts, so we’re highlighting the following women leaders whose innovation and direction continue to uplift their teams and drive positive results.
- Katie Jansen, CMO, AppLovin
- Jaime Pearse, Game Design Lead, Clipwire Games
- Amy Choi, Director of Product, Lion Studios
- Carol Miu, Chief Product and Analytics Officer, PeopleFun
In AppLovin’s first-ever, International Women’s Day Q&A, Katie, Jaime, Amy, and Carol candidly share career insights and advice, as well as their favorite books and podcasts.
Do you believe there are barriers to success for women working in tech?
Katie: The technology industry has come a long way—this is evident from top to bottom. We have more female leaders now than ever before, and young grads entering into the tech world have fewer barriers. However, we still have a long way to go. Continuing to give women opportunities to grow their careers and learn from leading are guidelines I like to infuse into the AppLovin culture.
This is why I helped found FemLovin, an internal group for women (but anyone is welcome to join) at AppLovin. This group specifically focuses on introducing our employees to businesses founded or run by women. We’ve featured talks from the founder of popular clothing brands, a top financial advisor, and a communication skills expert who specializes in helping women improve self-awareness and manage combative behavior.
Jaime: I think there’s still a little bit of catch-up for women working in games.
The games we create are played by women, so we need women to make the games too, which means companies should hire more women. There’s something to be said when the person playing the game also influences the creation of it.
Amy: We still see a shortage of women in the industry, and especially so in leadership roles. We need to increase the visibility of female executives and normalize women in decision-making roles. Female-centric recruiting practices can really increase the volume of strong female candidates in the pipeline. Companies should listen to their female employees and ensure they’re retained—they’re your strongest advocates. The path to a more inclusive and diverse workplace starts with them.
Carol: There are long-standing social stereotypes that can seep into the workplace. More often than not, men are judged by their potential while women are judged by their outcomes. However, it’s important for men and women to be judged equally on both attributes, not just one over the other.
Seeking out mentors and advocates who will be honest with you can help you better understand the areas in which you need to grow and overcome social stereotypes in the workplace.
Continuously look for ways to challenge yourself—take a leap and volunteer for important initiatives at your company even if you’re not sure you’ll succeed. If you’re 100 percent sure you’ll succeed before you even try, the task may not be challenging enough.
Always be at the “frontier of learning” where things feel a little uncomfortable, but that means you’re challenging yourself and learning new skills—which will help you break more barriers in the long-run.
What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?
Katie: I read a lot—my favorite books for women working in tech include:
- “The Moment of Lift” by Melinda Gates
- “Dare to Lead” by Brene Brown
- “Because Internet” by Gretchen McCulloch
When I’m in the car, I listen to a range of podcasts but for industry-related content like “This Week in Startups” or “Mission Marketing Trends.”
When it comes to inspiring others, I recommend the Girl Geek X events, because of their global reach and accessibility.
Jaime: I highly recommend “Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones” by James Clear. It’s helped me improve my own time management and build better habits, overall.
PocketGamer.biz is a good website for news and upcoming events for those who are in mobile gaming development. I also listen to the Deconstructor of Fun podcast from time to time because the hosts cover a wide range of gaming topics and companies on the show.
Amy: I recently discovered Game Changers, a webinar series that highlights women in gaming and revolves around a wide variety of topics ranging from user acquisition to mental health. I’d encourage women working in tech to really connect with other women in the workplace and use each other as a resource.
Carol: I recommend checking out these books, podcasts, and sites to deepen your knowledge of mobile and tech:
- “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” by Greg McKeown
- “Contagious” by Jonah Berger
- Freakonomics Radio (podcast)
- Mobile Dev Memo (podcast)
What are your top career tips for someone who wants to make it in tech?
Katie: Tech is a constantly shifting space, and companies are always pivoting and looking to make a big splash in their respective industries. Be ready to bring new ideas to the table, and be okay dropping a project to pick up something else as a backup. A sense of urgency that isn’t overwhelming is key. And, with a lot of smart people in a room comes a lot of options. Don’t be afraid to take and give constructive feedback.
A mentality I always look for when hiring is that hunger to grow and learn. I want to make sure that my team is always looking to iterate and improve on what they last completed.
Jaime: My top tip is to embrace change. Don’t be afraid of it. In tech, it’s definitely going to happen, and sometimes pretty frequently. Be brave in the face of discomfort and learn from it. There are lessons to be learned in everything you do.
Take on roles when you’re interested in them and don’t wait for opportunities to present themselves. My career in games has been very fluid and experiential. There have been several pivots into different positions and that’s okay—welcome it.
Amy: Live and breathe data! Most roles in game development heavily leverage data to create, publish, and grow games. Even if you’re new to gaming, having a solid understanding of data and the ability to critically analyze different key performance indicators (KPIs) is an important skill that pays off whether you’re a product manager or a game designer.
Carol: To excel in the mobile gaming industry, you must understand your player base. This is one of the most important pillars to building a successful game. Don’t just make a game that you want to play, but make a game that your players want to play.
No matter what industry you go into, it’s important to proactively learn skills on your own rather than waiting for someone to teach you. Becoming a structured thinker and strong communicator helps you develop frameworks for solving problems, improve your communication skills, and collaborate on a multidisciplinary team.
Your career path doesn’t need to be linear, as long as you are learning and growing. I’ve switched industries several times and within gaming, I’ve had friends switch from design to production to product management which has helped them evolve their career.
If you can be flexible yet persistent, it will help you realize there can be many solutions to one problem and put you in a better position to help the team better execute.
Continuing to drive change
IWD dates back to 1909 in New York City when over 15,000 women protested long work hours, low pay, and the lack of voting rights. Since then, we’ve made incredible strides for the betterment of women and positioning women as leaders. We now have a first-ever woman Vice President in office and women now account for more than 60 percent of all college degrees in the U.S.
The global recognition of IWD gives us a chance to reflect on how far women come and what’s still needed to break down gender inequality and stereotypes. Embrace the women in your life and get inspired by female leaders in the world and in your organization.