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What it’s like working as a woman in tech within a start-up

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ARTICLE SUMMARY

What can you expect at a startup? What skill sets do startups look for? Why would it benefit your career? To help give an insight into these questions, we sat down with Karen Seror, CMO at Gamestream.

EVER WONDERED HOW WORKING AT A START-UP DIFFERS FROM A MORE CORPORATE ROLE?

Karen Seror, CMO at Gamestream

What can you expect at a startup? What skill sets do startups look for? Why would it benefit your career? To help give an insight into these questions, we sat down with Karen Seror, CMO at Gamestream.

As the first female employee at Gamestream and Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) for the worldwide leaders in the B2B cloud gaming industry, Karen oversees Gamestream’s strategy and provides guidance to a diverse range of companies and partner communities. Karen is an expert on all things gaming, and since joining Gamestream, has played an integral role in the company’s success. From managing major deals with leading game publishers and studios such as Ubisoft and Ori Industries to key partnerships with Intel, LGF and Microsoft Azure, Karen is at the forefront of cloud innovation. 

Prior to Gamestream, Karen worked at Adobe Stock overseeing the brand launch and market strategy, and before that was Head of Communications at Fotolia, a world-leader in stock photography asset management, which was acquired by Adobe in 2014 for $800m.

SINCE I STARTED WORKING IN START-UPS 15 YEARS AGO, I HAVE BEEN COMMITTED TO ADDRESSING DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION ISSUES IN ALL ASPECTS OF MY PROFESSIONAL AND PERSONAL LIFE.

Companies have made substantial efforts to hire people regardless of ethnicity, cultural background, social status or gender. Once, it was just a concept battling against a vast sea of sameness, but time and time again, companies have realised that employing people with different backgrounds fosters industry-changing ideas. The multiple perspectives of a diverse team are key to innovation and make for a better working environment. However, despite efforts, women still only hold 26.7% of tech-related jobs.

I’ve worked at Gamestream for three years as the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). Grown in the bustling metropolitan of Paris, we’ve become the world leader in video game streaming solutions for the B2B market, evolving exponentially in the past few years. When I started back in March 2020, I was proud to be Gamestream’s first female employee – since then, we’ve expanded our services in tandem with the diversity in our team.

I have worked at different companies throughout my career, overseeing brand launches and Go-to-Market Strategies. My work with international and multicultural B2B2C start-ups has taught me valuable lessons at each step, shaping the best practices I’ve come to utilise to empower people like me.  I’ve worked with disruptive start-ups from their inception all the way to their acquisition phase. From the outset, it’s like starting on a blank page on which you have to rewrite the rules on what works to make a change. Combining the unknown with lean resources can be both unsettling and invigorating. As a game changer, it does mean you have a higher mountain to climb with a higher risk of falling but when you succeed the satisfaction is high.

To succeed, I quickly learnt that you must be agile, multi-disciplined, and creative, which all ties into the entrepreneurial spirit. You need a growth positive mindset in the face of adversity. Being heard and recognised is no easy battle; you need to get the backing of industry associations and leading organisations and institutions to help push the market forward together.

I have been very lucky in my career not having experienced too much adversity for being a woman. My background is in marketing, a female-dominated area where 60% of employees are women; however, a lot like the gaming industry as a whole, women are less likely to be seen at the top. In 2021, women accounted for 45 per cent of gamers in the United States (Statista), yet only 21% of those work within the gaming industry.

Working within a startup like Gamestream can benefit your entrepreneurial spirit. In a start-up, you get exposure to different parts of the business and have the freedom to create a reality in which you can thrive. Start-ups can be that vehicle to get you on your golden path and your team becomes a tribe working together for a common goal. It’s key that they support your vision, as they’re crucial to your company’s success. A business can’t succeed with one person spinning all of the plates; it takes everyone regardless of level.

There are, of course, challenges and opportunities for learning at all times when starting in any business at any stage in its growth. To succeed as a woman within a tech start-up, you must have determination and self-preservation. In my career, I’ve learnt how to take the right kind of hands-on approach to shape the company I believe in — building the company into one of the leading global Cloud Gaming platforms. As their CMO, I’m responsible for driving the global marketing strategy for customers worldwide — France, Slovenia, Taiwan, Switzerland, Indonesia, UAE, and most recently, India and West Africa. Communicating with many markets across different cultures can be challenging when pitted against cultural norms that may not see a woman in the positions I’ve held and currently hold. As a woman in those situations, holding your ground and showcasing what you bring to the table is key. Pivotal change doesn’t happen overnight but is a gradual shift in perceptions through consistent actions. Everyone will experience adversity along the way, but how you deal with it will allow you to grow and make notable changes around you that you can be proud of.

When the Alumni Manager at my university (EFAP) approached me to see if I had work experience available at Gamestream for a female student, I leapt at the chance. It is vital for young women and girls to see other women as role models. Even if that table only has one person that looks like you, it can be the turning point to inspiring you to do what you didn’t think was possible, which is crucial to getting more women into tech and gaming roles.

As said by Suma Nallapati, the CEO of Dish, “Empowered women empower women”.

Each woman needs to be a champion for women. Sharing experiences and best practices with other women will help inspire them to pursue careers and roles where more women are now needed. Taking the time to participate in forums and industry events can catalyse change. Even just offering a helping hand to one young woman can have a huge impact, not only on her life but the tech industry itself.


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