At our recent International Women’s Day conference, we offered our members a chance to be an Executive for a Day, and job shadow some of Vancouver’s top executives! One of our winner’s, Jocelyn Tien, wrote this wonderful story about her experience meeting Sarah Thompson, University Relations Specialist at EA Canada!
On a sunny afternoon in late March I was making my way to the EA Canada Headquarters located in Burnaby. I was very excited and wondered what kind of a conversation I would be having with Sarah Thompson, University Relations Specialist for EA. It is Sarah’s job to recruit for EA, students out of University that would be talented and valuable additions to the EA Team here in Vancouver. When I arrived at EA, I immediately noticed the architecture and design of the building. Unless you are from the area, you really wouldn’t be able to tell just how big the EA Headquarters is until you get inside.
Once I arrived, I signed in using their sign in computer which sent Sarah an email notifying her of my arrival. Sarah came out shortly after I signed in and she greeted me with a very friendly smile. I could tell immediately that Sarah was a down to earth woman and someone I would be able to have a robust conversation with. Sarah was so generous and treated me to lunch at the EA Cafeteria! Let me tell you, that cafeteria had it all! Everything from a salad bar, to Teppanyaki, sushi, and a pasta bar- it had the works. Sarah and I were able to get a table outside on the lovely patio to enjoy the sun and our conversation. As a bonus for Easter, two Easter Bunnies were going around giving out chocolates to the employees.
I had many questions prepared but didn’t want it to be too much of a formal process, and Sarah’s personality really shone through as we spoke, so I just went with the flow. We started with the usual mini introduction of both our backgrounds and what our afternoon would look like. I learned a lot of things from Sarah and she gave some very good and constructive advice about the core values that she stood by. One of them was to try and always keep in mind that you always need to “be a human.” This concept really resonated with me because sometimes people tend to forget that they are just human. People make mistakes, you don’t always have the answer for everything and when you are working in HR (Human Resources) this factor is even more prevalent in your day to day work. When I asked Sarah what she liked and disliked about her job she told me that her job was unique because no day is ever the same and she loves the people that she gets to meet. The only thing she said she at times dislikes about her job is when it comes to the “nitty gritty” – but even then Sarah explains that it is a learning experience and it’s part of the job. I could tell that Sarah was quite positive about her work and her role at EA, because she even explained to me that while most people dread and tend to stay away from tough conversations, she takes them head on because you learn a lot from having tough conversations. What may seem to be a daunting and big issue can easily be toned down by having a conversation and figuring out what is it that someone is trying to say. An important piece of advice that Sarah left me with was that you don’t necessarily have to know everything about a product and it doesn’t have to be a product that you love and think about every day, but as an employee you should be familiar and knowledgeable about the product and get to know the lingo behind it. This will make your job easier and more fun because you are showing your co-workers and supervisors the effort you are putting in to getting to know the company, especially in the software and tech industry.
After our lunch, Sarah proceeded to give me a wonderful tour of EA. It was so cool to see that each floor to the office side had a different theme. So one floor was hockey themed based on the NHL games, the other floor would be soccer themed for the FIFA Soccer games and so on. As the tour went on you could see that EA had put in a lot of work into making their employees feel comfortable in their environment. Everything from the architecture, to the cafeteria, fully decked out gym (with classes like yoga, Pilates, and boot camp), and even a library of almost every game ever made- is all to influence the creative juices of their employees!
It was such a pleasure to spend the afternoon with Sarah and what a great opportunity it was to visit one of the largest and major players in the gaming industry. Thank you the YWiB SFU for this opportunity and for Sara and Electronic Arts for allowing me to visit!
- Jocelyn Tien