WHM Spotlight – Miranda Smith
To celebrate Women’s History Month, Zynga is spotlighting some of the incredible women who work at our game studios around the world. We sat down with Miranda Smith, a Principal Software Engineer based in Carlsbad, California.
Miranda has been a member of the Zynga family since 2012 when a previous company she worked at was acquired by Zynga. After leaving for 3 years to be closer to family, she returned to Zynga in 2018 and has been working with the CasinoMatch and Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells teams since!
Continue reading to learn more about Miranda, how mentors have supported her throughout her career, her experience as both a member of the WAZ community and female engineer, and more.
Tell us a little bit about your background and what brought you to Zynga.
That is a longer story than it seems! I was hired by Buzz Monkey Software just out of college. Buzz Monkey was bought by Zynga in 2012 and became Zynga Eugene, so that was when I first joined, working on FrontierVille (later rebranded Pioneer Trail). In 2015 I left to pursue an opportunity up in Portland and came back to Zynga in 2018 as a remote employee. My primary driver for leaving was that I wanted to move closer to family, so it was great to be able to return and stay in Portland.
What is your current role and responsibilities at Zynga?
I’m a Principal Software Engineer in the CasinoMatch division. I just joined the Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells team and my responsibilities include planning and implementing features in the game, and helping with architecture reviews for features other engineers are working on. I also do code reviews of other engineers’ code (and have my code reviewed!) to keep our codebase as clean as possible.
Tell us about joining WAZ (Women at Zynga) and what the group has brought to you & your career.
I love seeing women across the company supporting each other! The WAZ Slack channel is great about highlighting opportunities and calling out achievements, and we have a semi-regular WAZ-engineer lunch where we can focus on engineering-related topics. My projects haven’t always had a ton of women on them, so it’s fantastic to be able to connect with others that I might not otherwise speak with.
How have mentors/leaders helped or inspired you throughout your career?
I’m a really introverted person, so having someone encourage me (directly or indirectly) to speak up and advocate for myself more is very helpful.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Fail more. You learn by trying hard things and failing, and not failing will just make you more scared to fail later on.
The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) is #ChooseToChallenge (collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world. We can choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. From challenge comes change, so let’s all choose to challenge). How have you chosen to challenge? Or have you been inspired by a leader or mentor in your life who has chosen to challenge?
Sometimes it feels like just being an engineer is challenging gender bias! But I have in the past approached my manager with some concerns I had with dismissive comments about women I’d been hearing, and management was very responsive. It can be very hard to speak up when you’re in a minority, but in this case I was glad I did.
What is your favorite Zynga game (past or present) and why?
This is kind of a biased response since I worked on the game for more than two years, but I think CastleVille: Legends was my favorite! I loved the crafting and the fantasy theme.
Tell us a surprising fact about yourself.
I have an art degree! A Bachelor of Fine Arts in Multimedia Design, with a minor in Computer Science. There are multiple paths into any field – don’t feel bound by your de