Electronic Arts Inc.

03/27/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 03/27/2024 09:07

Kate Kellogg's journey as COO of EA Studios, delving into her leadership pathway, collaboration style, and vision for the future of gaming.

Kate Kellogg's Journey Leading Gaming's Evolution at Electronic Arts

Exploring resilience, innovation, and female leadership with Kate Kellogg, COO of EA Studios

March 27, 2024

Kellogg's Journey at Electronic Arts

Kellogg's tenure at Electronic Arts began almost four years ago, just before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Reflecting on those initial days, she recalls the resilience and solidarity of EA's teams amidst global upheaval.

Q: How long have you worked at Electronic Arts and what is your background?

"I've been here for almost four years. I spent six days in the office before we went home for COVID. One of the things I took out of that was, in a time of tremendous tumultuousness across society, all of the teams at EA voltroned up to support each other, to support our employees all over the globe, and figured out how to continue making our games. That was hugely impactful for me.

I started at an indie studio in Boston. I'd been working at an investment bank and went into an interview for an office manager job 20 years ago, and they said, "We have zero dollars." I talked to the head of the studio for five minutes and said, "I'm in, this is going to work." In three months, I was their director of operations. Two years later, we were acquired and after a bit of time away, I went to publishing for eight years.

In those days, we were just getting started and every project was make or break. So because I'd worked in small business, I'd had to learn how to do a bit of everything - I've done HR, I've been the legal contact, I've done audits. That experience helped prepare me for the job I do now across such an incredible portfolio-I've sat in so many seats and had so many different responsibilities on projects."

Q: Any milestones and achievements that you wanted to point out?

"Shipping EA SPORTS FC was one of the biggest milestones for us as an aggregate company. Going through that kind of brand reimagining and launching, and seeing what we could do working together was one of the most incredible things."

Empowering Female Voices: Kellogg's Leadership Philosophy

As Kellogg delves into her leadership style, she reveals a knack for finding the shortest path to success. Whether collaborating with a handful of individuals or managing large teams, she prioritizes trust, respect, and diversity of perspectives. Kellogg's aversion to groupthink fosters an environment where innovation thrives, and multiple viewpoints are valued.

Q: Who do you collaborate with the most? And what is your collaboration style? How do you make it all work?

"For me, what's really critical for productive collaboration is to work with people that I trust and respect.

My super skill is that I'm really good at finding the shortest path. I will find the path through to try and figure out what we're actually trying to do, whether it's a collaboration between three people or 3000. I think it's also really important to always have options on the table. Sometimes you need to create options with tradeoffs to achieve the goal.

Also, I deeply dislike groupthink on operational challenges. Frequently if there are more than eight people in a meeting, I will not go. I like to have someone that is well informed to propose an approach with tradeoffs, and then to have small diverse groups to work through whether there are ways to make it better. Are all the assumptions correct? I find it most efficient to have an expert deep diving into the material, and then tapping everybody else to calibrate with different perspectives."

Q: If somebody were to want to do your job, how could they gather those skills today?

"Working with small businesses gave me an incredible opportunity to learn a tremendous amount really quickly. That was my on-ramp - I had to learn accounting at a biotech company over a weekend because we didn't have someone to do the books.

There are also so many tools and resources online now. I had to go check out books from libraries to learn new skills and approaches. I think there's also a much better sense of tapping networks. Early in my career, I didn't invest in my personal network, I'm far more mindful of it now. I just worked and worked really, really hard.

There's so much value in talking to people in other industries, people with similar roles in other companies, and learning from the people around you and I do a lot more of that now."

Defining Success: Advice for Aspiring Women in Gaming

Drawing from her extensive experience, Kellogg offers advice to aspiring women in the gaming industry. She encourages them to define their own success metrics and prioritize personal fulfillment. In a world often defined by external standards, Kellogg advocates for introspection and self-awareness, urging individuals to chart their unique paths with confidence.

Q: Do you have any advice that you would give to women interested in the gaming industry?

"I was born in the seventies, so I have a lot of advice, but there's one thing that comes to mind.

I think it's really important that we all define our own personal success metrics and, yes, we should get feedback from our leaders, teams, and peers and take that into account, but at the end of it, if you're only successful by someone else's definition, you will fail. Part of your own success needs to be making you happy and following what matters to you.

I think that we should take a lot more time and be very mindful of what it is that we want as individuals and then try to align our lives with that."

Envisioning the Future: Kellogg's Perspective on Gaming

Reflecting on the future of gaming, Kellogg envisions a landscape defined by boundless creativity and engagement. As technology continues to evolve, so too will the ways in which players interact with games. Kellogg emphasizes the importance of fostering safe and healthy gaming environments while embracing diverse styles of play.

Q: 20 years is a long time in this industry, how have you seen things change?

It's been wild. When I started, success was selling a million copies. It was very niche and a lot of people were making games with relatively small teams in those days. It was really a business of passion. That's what drew me to it and I think this continues to be the case.

The biggest thing that's changed is the scale of what we ship and the duration of engagement with our players.

In the old days, we might make a game that someone played for one weekend, and they would say, "Oh, that was really impactful" and put it down. But that was it. And now we have live service where people are engaging with our franchises. When people play something like Apex or The Sims, it is a fundamental part of their identity in their day-to-day lives.

I've had the good fortune of growing with the industry.

Q: How do you see the future of gaming looking? How do you see the future of actually gaming from a player perspective, but also just how we're building things on our side of the house?

Games used to be something that you got on a disc and put in your computer, but if we step back and think about playfulness and engagement, the boundary has burst open. We have this interesting research around how there are many people who don't put their hands on controllers but instead like to watch our content on YouTube or Twitch or engage with fanfiction that's related to our games. In fact, our players have spent billions of hours watching content across our franchises such as Apex Legends and our EA SPORTS titles.

There's this opportunity for all different styles of engagement within a broader world or frame that we build, so there should always be space for new styles of play, new games, and new ways to tackle them. And as we put the opportunity for creativity in player hands more, we're going to see this incredible explosion of ways to play. And that's really beautiful, but we have to be mindful of how we create, how we manage, and how we continue to show up for our players in ways that are welcoming, safe and inclusive.

Kellogg's Inspiring Journey

In celebrating Kate Kellogg's journey, we not only honor her contributions to the gaming industry but also recognize the importance of female leadership in shaping its future. Her story serves as an inspiration to aspiring game developers, reminding them that success lies not in emulation but in authenticity and self-discovery. As the gaming landscape continues to evolve, leaders like Kellogg pave the way for a more inclusive and innovative future.

Check out our open roles at EA Studios to join Kate and take a look at all of our open positions at EA!

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