Women’s History Month Spotlight — An Vu
For Women’s History Month in March, Zynga is celebrating female employees who are helping forge a more gender equal world. In keeping with the theme for International Women’s Day, “Will You Help #BreakTheBias,” the women — from diverse positions around the world — are sharing ways in which they’re combating bias, stereotypes and discrimination in gaming.
Today, we sat down with An Vu, Chief Marketing Officer at Small Giant Games, a subsidiary of Zynga, in Helsinki, Finland. Read on below to hear more from An about how diverse and inclusive cultures take time to build, but are critical to building successful and fun teams.
How can we change the narrative around gaming/tech being perceived as a male-dominated industry?
We can’t expect to change the narrative overnight. It can be intimidating for a woman to join an all male team — I’ve done it several times. It’s important to ask questions during the interview about what diversity means and what it looks like in practice. There needs to be transparency around the culture of diversity of the team or company you’re about to join. Representation matters in gaming studios and companies need to make it part of their mission to create inclusive cultures and products.
Why is it important to have women working on games in addition to appearing in them (i.e., avatars)?
I’m lucky to work at Small Giant, where almost one-third of our team is currently female and many work directly in game development at all levels — from developers to the chief product officer. The diversity of our game teams means that we have advocates for the designs of our games at every stage of development. This process of inclusive collaboration results in games that give all players a more thoughtful journey and respectful experience.
What positive changes have you seen at Zynga, or within your career, that help promote equity?
After getting my start in the industry in the U.S. in 2009, I moved to Finland in 2015. I see many women in leadership roles as head of product, studio lead or founder. The culture of equity and inclusion in the Finnish gaming community has created a more welcoming environment for future female leaders, I think. I hope the vibrant and diverse gaming community here can serve as a model for companies elsewhere.
How do you see your role at Zynga helping to “break the bias” within our industry?
I’ve been at Small Giant for 5 years now. I was the first female employee hired. Since then I’ve built an awesome and diverse team that I’m very proud of. By demonstrating excellence in teamwork — and results — we continue to attract the best people who share our values.
What is something someone else has done that you really saw make an impact, either at Zynga or another point in your career?
Our company motto is “small, highly motivated, and experienced teams can accomplish giant things,” and I’ve seen this work so well when it’s coupled with diverse hiring decisions. Our co-founders had a great vision when they started the company and all the things we’ve achieved since are the result of many people with diverse experiences, skill sets and perspectives coming together to bring that vision to life. Not to mention it’s an incredibly fun time.
What are your favorite games?
I’ve been playing Empires & Puzzles for 5 years now! I also love Clash Quest and Words With Friends
What is your favorite book?
“100 Years of Solitude,” by Márquez.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I enjoy traveling the world, learning to cook, and participating in organizing UA Society events (uasociety.com).