At the age of 14, Jade Raymond, Managing Director and Studio Head at Ubisoft Toronto had an epiphany. She knew that she wanted to work in the gaming industry. Her favourite subjects in school were Math and Art, and gaming seemed to lend itself well to both disciplines.
She held on to that dream and has built a career around producing highly successful video games.
A year and a half ago, Raymond moved her family (with a five month old daughter in tow) from Montreal to Toronto to start-up the Ubisoft Toronto office. In a very short time period, she grew the team from zero to over one-hundred and ninety employees and counting.
She believes that a good leader must have a strong vision and an inspiring direction for their team to follow. They must also be direct and never take no for an answer.
I caught up with the very accomplished Raymond at the International Women in Digital Media Summit last week to find out more about how she got her start in gaming and how she manages work-life balance.
How did you get your start in gaming?
I studied Computer Science in undergrad and did my first internship at IBM. My first project was working on 3D software for Crayola. From there, I went on to do programming and game production for Sony in New York City, and for Electronic Arts in San Francisco.
After my stint in the US, I knew it was time to make the move to work on the next big thing. That’s when I joined Ubisoft, which seemed like the best place to work in the gaming industry. It certainly paid off. I had the opportunity to work on the fastest selling new IP in the gaming industry – Assassin’s Creed, which won multiple Game of the Year awards and sold over 30 million units across all titles worldwide.
Who were your mentors early on in your career?
I actually had many female mentors along the way. There are a lot of women working in the gaming industry. When I was interning at IBM, I worked with a woman named Susan Gluck. She had a really interesting background – from being a successful ballerina, to going on to study at Harvard for undergrad, and then Wharton business school. We commuted to work together and that’s where she gave me a lot of advice about how to manage my career.
I also had a female VP at Sony named Lisa Simpson, and the Head of our studio at Electronic Arts was Lucy Bradshaw. They were both excellent role models.
What advice have you given to young women about their careers?
I recently gave some advice to one of our interns at Ubisoft. I told her to be honest with herself about her passion. Also, it’s important not to look at your career as one straight path. There are multiple routes you can take to get to the end goal.
As a mom, how do you balance your busy schedule and your time with your daughter?
Truthfully, I am often stretched very thin. However, I am always focused one-hundred per cent wherever I am. I do have to prioritize and make my time count. But because I am extremely passionate about what I do, I am very fulfilled in my career life. I believe that’s why I am able to be there for my daughter wholeheartedly when she needs me. Work-life balance is not easy but it’s doable.