Black History Month Employee Spotlight: Chris Garlington
To celebrate Black History Month, Zynga is exploring the theme of ‘inspiring change’ to uncover how every individual has the power to make a positive difference in their workplace and community. As part of this, we are excited to share some of our employees’ stories over the course of the month.
We are kicking off the celebration with Chris Garlington, our director of cybersecurity based in Zynga’s Austin studio. Learn more about how Chris transitioned from protecting the country from threats by serving in the U.S. Air Force to an exciting career in cybersecurity — all while fostering his love for endurance events like triathlons and enjoying a good southern cooked meal after church.
Tell us a little about your background and how you came to Zynga.
After high school, I joined the U.S. Air Force and from there, things really took off for me. I started in aviation electronics, which was the beginning of my career in IT. I completed secondary school while in the military and retrained into a security field.
After leaving the military with an honorable discharge, I began my career in corporate America. I’ve worked in several industries over the course of my career — telecommunications, consumer products, e-commerce, travel, retail and now gaming.
What is your role at Zynga? Walk us through your typical day.
As the director of cybersecurity, I lead a team of about 20 security professionals. My day can go from zero to 100 in a matter of seconds as we constantly strive to keep our company data safe and protect our intellectual property.
How would you describe the culture at Zynga? Why is this important to you?
At Zynga, I’ve experienced an open and engaging environment where everyone is treated with respect. In the past, I never felt like I could bring my whole self to work. The culture at Zynga empowers people of color by treating all employees with respect and dignity and valuing diversity.
The tech landscape is getting increasingly competitive. Why should someone consider a career at Zynga versus another tech company?
At Zynga, we’re always striving to achieve our mission of connecting the world through games by bringing the latest in mobile gaming advances to our players. As a result, my team is constantly improving our tactics, technology and procedures to keep everyone safe from digital threats while they play.
What does it mean to you to be a person of color in technology and gaming?
While I know I’m part of a minority in the industry, I find pride in being able to show there are opportunities for all regardless of the color of my skin.
Tell us about joining the Black Zynga Union (BZU) and what the group has brought to you and your career?
BZU fosters and engages a community at Zynga where employees of color and their allies can connect around the workplace experience. Being a member of BZU has given me a sense of community.
Have recent events that have demonstrated continued systematic racism and racial injustice in the U.S. changed your views on what change is needed?
Yes certainly!! I grew up in Detroit in the 70s/80s when it was known as one of the most dangerous cities in America. Even with that background, I would have never imagined the type of violence we now hear about daily from hate crimes to police brutality. In my view, to make lasting change, we need to retrain the human brain to handle conflict and disputes differently.
What do you feel is needed to create positive change for the future?
We must learn to appreciate differences, learn tolerance and that violence isn’t the first course of action.
How do you inspire change?
I try to inspire change by projecting positivity and living by my word. I work to inspire change by not letting my past determine the heights of my future.
How are you empowered to make a positive change in your role at Zynga?
As a minority on several aspects, I want to be an example of what is possible and prove that action is better than words. I also want to inspire and bestow my knowledge and experience onto others and give a lift-up and not just a hand-out.