March 10, 2021

WHM Spotlight – Eveliina Aalto

To honor Women’s History Month this March, Zynga is highlighting the stories of some of the amazing women who work at our game studios around the world.

We spoke with Eveliina Aalto, a Graphic Designer based in our Small Giant studio in Helsinki. Having been drawing and creating characters since childhood, Eveliina always knew she wanted to pursue a future in art. She began her career in the gaming industry in 2014, joined Zynga in 2018, and recently obtained a Master’s Degree in Art with a major in Game Design and Production.

Continue reading to learn more about Eveliina including her career journey, how she is motivated by working in a supportive team environment and her perspective on why asking questions and challenging our internal dialogue can lead to powerful results.

Tell us a little bit about your background and what brought you to Zynga.

I’ve been drawing and creating characters since I was a little girl and always knew I wanted to do it in the future, one way or another. I started my career in the gaming industry in 2014 when I was hired as a trainee for Rovio Entertainment. I kept accumulating freelance jobs, started studying for my masters and finally found myself in Small Giant Games. I started working at Small Giant in the fall of 2017 as a freelance Graphic Designer and in March 2018, I was hired full-time. I recently finished my thesis and graduated from Aalto University, majoring in Game Design and Production – finally getting my Master’s Degree in Art.

What is your current role and responsibilities at Zynga?

I’m a Graphic Designer and my role requires working on various art tasks for game development. I help create new 2D art for games. I started on the marketing and social media team, helping with the App Store and Facebook creatives, and eventually built my way up to the game development team.

Tell us about joining WAZ (Women at Zynga) and what the group has brought to you & your career.

Being a part of WAZ has given me a feeling of unity and empowerment. Even though I’m not especially active in the group’s Slack channel, following the discussion and being a member of the group makes me feel welcome. I know there are people I can turn to when needed. Group activities have also brought a lot of joyful moments.

How have mentors/leaders helped or inspired you throughout your career?

Seniors have helped me tremendously throughout the years with feedback and encouragement about my work. It’s easy to develop mannerisms in creative work and do things in a certain way until someone points out something you haven’t thought of before. Learning to listen but also voicing your ideas and expertise is equally important. I admire gentle leaders who want to understand their colleagues, help them succeed and celebrate successes together. Teamwork, where we are not competing with each other but instead trying to create the best possible result together, motivates me.

What advice would you give your younger self?

You can never please everybody and there will always be naysayers. Trust your passion and find your way to a community that appreciates you and your love for your work. You’re much more capable than you think!

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?

I #ChooseToChallenge myself to stop making myself smaller and constantly apologizing when it’s unnecessary. You can be gentle with people without degrading yourself. Women are easily judged; consider how many negative words you can think of that are often used to describe assertive women, for example.

Only you can determine who you are. Stand up when someone is being mistreated and ask questions. I’ve found power from standing by my values and staying observant of the people around me. Is everyone feeling welcome and comfortable? Is there something that could make it more so? Am I aware of my own internalized bias and am I willing to take a step outside of my comfort zone to address things that are not serving equality?

What is your favorite Zynga game (past or present) and why?

My fondest memories were from Farmville when I used to play it with my family on Facebook. I enjoy playing Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells as well when I have the time!

Tell us a surprising fact about yourself.

I started horseback riding after a break of ~17 years and I’ve found my love for horses again. Going to the stables is like stepping into a different reality where there’s only you and the horse and you can forget everything else for a moment.