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Spotlight Series: Angela Dickson, Vice President, Call of Duty and Commercial, Activision Blizzard EMEA

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ARTICLE SUMMARY

In this interview, we sit down with Angela to take a look at how she got into tech, what it’s like being a woman in the gaming industry, and her career advice for other women in tech.

ANGELA DICKSON HAS HAD THE PRIVILEGE OF DEVELOPING MOST OF HER CAREER WITHIN THE GAMING INDUSTRY, WORKING AT ACTIVISION FOR ALMOST 18 YEARS.

Angela Dickson, Vice President, Call of Duty and Commercial, Activision Blizzard EMEA

She has progressed through various roles and currently serves as the Vice President of Call of Duty and Commercial at Activision Blizzard EMEA. In this role, Angela is responsible for driving franchise commercial growth across the region. Throughout her career, she has always welcomed new challenges and opportunities to learn and grow. Though she has occasionally faced self-doubt, Angela’s ambition and eagerness for personal and professional development have enabled her to overcome my doubts.

IN THIS INTERVIEW, WE SIT DOWN WITH ANGELA TO TAKE A LOOK AT HOW SHE GOT INTO TECH, WHAT IT’S LIKE BEING A WOMAN IN THE GAMING INDUSTRY, AND HER CAREER ADVICE FOR OTHER WOMEN IN TECH.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO PURSUE A CAREER IN GAMING/TECH, AND HOW DID YOU GET YOUR START IN THE INDUSTRY?

I started as a key account executive in the photographic industry for major UK retailers, where I had the opportunity to deliver impressive growth for brands such as Lloyd’s and WH Smith.  Later, while working on the roll out of Kodak’s first digital business, I quickly realised that the tech industry was capable of unlocking even more exciting opportunities with its great capacity to evolve. From there, I was attracted to the growth trajectory in the gaming industry and the possibilities that it offered.

I was excited to pursue a career in gaming because it offered the chance to work in a dynamic and constantly evolving field, with limitless potential for growth and creativity. I am thrilled to have been able to combine my sales expertise with my passion for gaming.

WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF IN YOUR CAREER, SO FAR? 

I’d have to say it’s being part of a company that has undergone tremendous growth and evolution, and managing through those transitions to adapt my role and skills, all while helping others in the company do the same. When I first started at Activision, we operated almost like a start-up, with no established structures. However, as the gaming industry has grown and changed, so have we, and navigating that evolution has been challenging and rewarding.

Call of Duty itself went from being a great game to becoming a major brand with true cultural impact in entertainment.

We have created a truly exceptional gaming experience that has captivated millions of players around the world across multiple platforms.

I am proud to have been part of a team that has embraced these challenges, and I am excited to continue to be part of this dynamic industry.

WHAT SKILLS DO YOU THINK ARE ESSENTIAL FOR SUCCESS IN TECH, AND HOW CAN WOMEN DEVELOP THESE SKILLS?

The tech industry offers a wide range of careers, from things like coding, technical engineering, game design, animation, narrative all the way to things common across industries like HR, finance and marketing. Each of course requires its own set of skills.

But there are transferable skills across all roles. All require adaptability, flexibility, and creativity, as well as an ability to evolve.

For women, and anyone interested in pursuing a career in tech, I would advise first identifying the specific area of tech they are interested in and why. As a second step, recognise that they may already have many of the softer skills that the industry needs.

With so many women in the workforce, and even more now entering, there is great opportunity for us to bridge the gender gap, and although there is a long way to go across our industry, things are moving in the right direction.

DID YOU (OR DO YOU) HAVE A ROLE MODEL IN TECH OR BUSINESS IN GENERAL

I have been inspired by several successful women in tech and business who have made a significant impact in their respective fields. One of my role models is Melinda Gates, not only for her role in the tech industry but also for her philanthropic work and dedication to lifting up women worldwide. She is a true inspiration on how to make a difference and drive positive change.

Another role model for me is Sheryl Sandberg. Her book, “Lean In,” was a transformative read for me. It challenged my perspectives and opened my eyes to the importance of women’s representation in leadership positions. Her experiences and insights have been invaluable in shaping my own career journey.

WHAT IS ACTIVISION DOING TO ENSURE DIVERSITY IN THE WORKPLACE? CAN YOU PROVIDE EXAMPLES OF SUCCESSFUL DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION INITIATIVES YOUR COMPANY HAS IMPLEMENTED?

Our company has been vocal about our commitment to being the most welcoming and inclusive company, where everyone feels seen, heard and valued. We are passionate about fostering a culture that respects diversity and unique points of view.

For me, an important part of our diversity and inclusion initiatives is our Employee Network Groups.

These groups help us cultivate a welcoming internal culture in which employees can show up as their authentic selves.

We encourage all employees to join and help amplify the company’s initiatives. 

I have recently taken on the role of Executive Sponsor of our Women’s Network globally, having been an active member of the network for many years. It’s a role that I take seriously and look forward to continue building our vibrant, thoughtful and powerful community together.   

HOW DO YOU ENSURE THAT ALL EMPLOYEES FEEL INCLUDED AND VALUED REGARDLESS OF THEIR DIFFERENCES?

We work hard to have a clear sense of direction for the company and communicate this effectively to all employees. It’s important for us that our teams know where the company is going, and that they understand their role in our shared success, so they know they are empowered and valued.

Another important factor is to provide opportunities for career development and growth for all employees. At Activision we offer training and development programs that are accessible at all levels of the company. By investing in the growth and development of all employees, we grow together, which is the best way to navigate all those challenges I mentioned about being in a dynamic industry.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUNG WOMEN WHO ARE INTERESTED IN PURSUING A CAREER IN TECH, BUT MAY BE HESITANT DUE TO STEREOTYPES OR LACK OF REPRESENTATION?

The tech industry offers a wide range of roles with diverse and transferable skills between them. I encourage young women to explore the different career opportunities in tech and to not let stereotypes or lack of representation hold them back. Remember that diversity and inclusivity are essential for innovation and success in the industry, and you have a valuable contribution to make.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO WOMEN WHO ARE INTERESTED IN MOVING INTO LEADERSHIP POSITIONS IN TECH, AND HOW CAN THEY POSITION THEMSELVES FOR SUCCESS?

My best advice would be to focus on developing your communication and team management skills. Understanding the aspirations and challenges of your team members is key to being an effective leader. Women often struggle with impostor syndrome, but it’s important to remember that you have the capability to grow into the role and that training and development can help. Don’t be afraid to take on new responsibilities.

It’s important to be vocal about your passions and goals with your line manager, as sharing them can lead to opportunities that may not be immediately available.

As an example, I once had a team member who expressed her interest in digital sales and distribution, and while there wasn’t a role for that in my team at the time, I was able to give her exposure to more teams and projects, which eventually lead her to pursue her passion and advance her career.

You can also find a mentor or reach out to someone in the workplace for guidance and support.  Remember, if you don’t speak up, no one can help you achieve your dreams.  

WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE PLANS FOR PROMOTING DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION WITHIN THE WOMEN’S NETWORK?

We have various plans in place. Our primary objective is to increase collaboration and expand our membership. We have already implemented a few initiatives such as inviting a LinkedIn expert to share tips on self-promotion, which helped us attract new members to the network. We also have a book club to raise awareness of existing literature that speaks to women’s’ experience in the workplace. And we actively welcome participation from both men as well.

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