February 12, 2020

Employee Profile – Tracey Thomas

This month, Zynga is celebrating Black History Month by spotlighting employees who work in all divisions of the business to make our products as inclusive and diverse as the people who play and engage with our games every day. This week we spoke with Tracey Thomas!

Based in Zynga’s Austin office, Tracey oversees Zynga’s Learning and Development (L&D) programs and platforms. She has a degree in Communications from La Salle University and a Masters of Business Administration from Arizona State University. Prior to Zynga, Tracey worked for startups and consumer brands including Coca-Cola and Orangetheory Fitness. She is the author of the children’s book “Luna the Unicorn: A Magical Dream Journey,” a member of Zynga’s Black Zynga Union (BZU) and Women At Zynga (WAZ – Austin) employee resource groups, and the mother of two sons.

Read on to learn more about Tracey’s path to Zynga and how she’s grown within the company.

Tell us how you came to Join Zynga.
I joined Zynga in 2018. That was an exciting time for the company and for Zynga Austin, which was growing like crazy! Since I first joined, we have expanded our talent base and launched some great gaming products. It’s been fun to experience.

As part of the People Operations Global L&D team, I help employees build great careers at Zynga or wherever their career journey may lead them to! I’m lucky to work with some of the kindest and most genuine people in gaming. I feel that we are all hardworking and passionate about what we do, and I want the employee experience to be both satisfying and meaningful.

Since starting with Zynga, how has your own growth and development progressed?
From day one, I was traveling for training – literally in my first and second week working here. It felt rewarding to see the company invest in me so early on. I use my training and certifications on a regular basis for my job, and they have helped me become a better coach, advisor, and facilitator. My role has also opened doors for me to connect with groups that I don’t interact with on a daily basis, so I’ve become more versatile.

What is it like to be a woman of color working in gaming?
I love telling people what I do because they usually don’t expect it. And understandably so – when I joined our Austin studio, I was the only black woman there. But that’s no longer the case. I have met women who are trailblazing the industry, and several of them are women of color. They inspire me to think outside of the proverbial box.

Gaming is the most popular entertainment category in the world, but it’s not the type of career you immediately associate with women. I think that has less to do with the contributions that we can make here, and more to do with how the industry is perceived. These are some of the things that have historically deterred more women from pursuing a career in this field.

What is a common misconception your industry faces and what is the reality?
That it’s young, male, reclusive, and ‘sports and action-obsessed’. Gaming is much broader than that. There is a diverse team of people who ideate and develop a game. For instance: you have artists, experience designers, producers, engineers, product managers, marketers, QA technicians, and data scientists who collaborate together. These skills do not lend themselves to a single type of person. When you think of it that way, it’s easy to understand the value that someone with the right skillset can bring to our games.

How does it feel when you see your work in a real life setting?
Watching my colleagues succeed at work? That’s awesome. Knowing that I played a role in their growth? That’s the best feeling ever. It brings purpose to my daily grind when I know that I am impacting the lives around me. Ultimately, that work will permeate into our products and the way we serve our players.

What do you enjoy about working at Zynga?
Zynga is all about community, so your professional journey is never siloed. There is a team of people lifting you up, educating you, challenging you, and motivating you to be a better version of yourself every day. That applies to your direct manager all the way up to senior management – we all want to succeed together. At the end of my leadership classes, I like to conclude with the proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” That’s the type of learning culture we have here at Zynga.