I've taken the plunge! I've made the big decision to step away from my job and embark on the journey of building my dream business.

Nope, it's not a new game studio this time ;). While that thought had been brewing for quite a while, I've realized that my true calling goes beyond just creating games. Don't get me wrong, I did dive into that realm by building the 9C casual studio at Voodoo back in 2019. It was my most fulfilling professional and personal experience.

However, beneath the surface of wanting to establish a new studio or launch a groundbreaking game, lies a deeper passion—a passion centered around people rather than products. Throughout my 15-year journey in the gaming industry, my greatest satisfaction has come from empowering other leaders to discover their purpose, unleash their potential, and achieve their professional aspirations in a sustainable way.

What's more, forming communities of creative minds united by a shared mission has brought me immense joy. This trajectory led me to first establish my own studio and later foster a community of conscious leaders at Rise and Play. It's a path I feel committed to, in one form or another, for the rest of my life.

This summer, I've devoted time to introspection—journaling, hiking, and cycling through the picturesque landscapes of France, the Netherlands, and Italy. During these moments, it dawned on me that to live out my dream job, I must craft it myself! 

This realization fueled my leap of faith, committing wholeheartedly to Rise and Play, where I'll be channeling my passion to teach conscious leadership practices in games.

Drawing from my 15+ years of experience working at Gameloft, Wooga, Rovio, Voodoo and PlayStation —building studios, guiding teams through change, launching games, running Live Ops, and collaborating with countless outstanding founders and executives via Rise and Play—I've identified recurring challenges faced by studios at various stages. As a result, I've curated three distinct leadership programs set to launch in September:

Leadership Alignment Offsites

Transformation often stems from pain or self-awareness. Regrettably, substantial pain is often required to initiate change, which can sometimes lead to dire consequences for companies or their leaders (think burnout, jeopardized physical health, or even bankruptcy). Must we wait until things get that far?

I believe we can take a proactive, cost-effective approach by gaining insight into the company's pulse early and on a smaller scale: Is the management team aligned? Do they have a clear grasp of the vision and strategic trajectory? How much do they walk the talk of the proclaimed values? How well does the rest of the company align with these aspects?

Drawing from my prior experiences, I use a mix of qualitative and quantitative data to assess the management team's state through 1:1 conversations, workshops, hiring and attrition rate and employee pulse surveys. These insights serve as the foundation for raising awareness and tackling pressing pain points. It's no surprise that many of these pain points trace back to leadership, but the silver lining is that the solutions also lie within the leadership team! 

A prime example: before officially assuming the role of General Manager at Savage Game Studios post-acquisition by PlayStation in October 2022, I recognized the urgency of aligning the top management team on pivotal strategic matters—narrowing down company priorities, revisiting values, delineating post-acquisition responsibilities. These discussions, facilitated by me in a safe space, laid the groundwork for trust-building in a team that hadn't convened for a strategic offsite in over three years since its inception.

I get it, these discussions often take a backseat in the tumultuous startup phase, but without united leadership vision and alignment, there's no cohesive company culture (arguably your most valuable asset in the absence of a proven game).

Leadership Mentoring & Advisory

My primary focus will be on providing one-on-one mentoring to new managers and those navigating change management roles, such as post-acquisition integration, scaling efforts, pivots, or restructures.

Unlike conventional coaching, I offer a unique advantage—I know your struggles, and I've walked in your shoes, steering teams within the gaming realm. This means I can assist with actionable steps tailored to your individual needs. Consider me a temporary leader and an additional resource, right there to lend a hand!

While I'll occasionally host ad hoc advisory sessions, my priority lies in sustained mentoring spanning several months. This method ensures lasting transformation for you and your team without causing disruptive instability. Go slow to go fast!

Management Scaling

It's a common tale—startups thrive with a small team but hit roadblocks as they scale, often referred to as the Growth Paradox. Implicit norms (culture, values, workflows, processes) suffice when you're a tight-knit group. Yet, growth demands a shift from implicit to explicit.

The challenge arises when the top management is hands full with growing the company and recruiting, leaving little bandwidth to train new leaders, regularly communicate direction and priorities, or translate values into documented processes.

Yet, middle managers are the linchpin when it comes to scaling. They make critical hiring decisions, motivate teams, and to some extent, personify the evolving culture. Inadequate training yields a cascade of poor decision-making. Over the course of my career, I've developed systems and frameworks to empower middle managers to communicate effectively and lead their teams autonomously. Some of these tools, like Mission Cards and a Culture Handbook, I've shared in my free Masterclass.

If these programs resonate with you or if you know someone who could benefit, please don't hesitate to reach out via direct message at sophie@riseanplay.io

Thank you for all the support and encouragement on Rise and Play. Let's continue this journey together!

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Copywriting by ChatGPT 🤖

Banner photo by Alexander Grey on Unsplash

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