Emma Russell has spent the last 10 years in HR, where the last two have been with Jagex after previously working in media and digital marketing companies. She has stated she is passionate about challenging our businesses to be stronger and better than ever, with a relentless focus on our people and players.
“Effective talent management and driving a high-performance culture through promoting the right behaviours is at the forefront of our mission. HR here is not about checking through policies, procedures and process; we have so much more to offer, and this is something I’m able to achieve with the best-in-class team at Jagex! I’m experienced across the board in HR with real passion and drive for affecting continuous improvement at a speed and agility the games industry is built upon.”
Russell joins us at Pocket Gamer Connects Helsinki Digital 2020 where she talks about embracing change, and some of the amazing stuff happening at Jagex and the role of HR in it.
PocketGamer.biz: Tell us a bit about Jagex
Today the RuneScape franchise exists beyond running games in live operations; our titles are living games that connect and inspire millions of players
Emma Russell: Jagex are leaders in creating deep and engaging experiences on PC and mobile, Jagex was founded in 2001 and is today one of the UK’s biggest and most respected video game developers and publishers. Famed for its flagship MMOs RuneScape and Old School RuneScape, Jagex has more than 280million player accounts and is a $1bn lifetime franchise revenue.
Today the RuneScape franchise exists beyond running games in live operations; our titles are living games that connect and inspire millions of players, with content and experiences both inside and outside of inexhaustible game worlds. We are expanding and extending our portfolio with fresh franchise titles, new IP and, in 2018 launched Jagex Partners, delivering third-party publishing and operational services exclusively for the living games of the future. Jagex is a great place to work where we are famous for our parties, staff events and focus on wellbeing, we employ more than 400 people and growing at our Cambridge headquarters and are continually on the hunt for talented people to work across the studio in a wide variety of roles to help the company to achieve yet another year of record growth and player satisfaction.
What does your role entail?
I lead a talented HR Team to drive our department’s agenda to develop people strategies across the studio. We achieve this through close partnership with the core departments across the business and a strong focus in learning development. We also add value to our business through our focus on wellbeing and employee engagement, ensuring everything we do is aligned to the business values and strategies and providing staff myriad ways of letting our leadership know their opinions.
There are many entry points to the games industry requiring a variety of skillsets. Think about how your skills transfer and get an understanding of how the industry operates
Why did you want to work in the games industry?
I am passionate about working in a creative and changing industry. It’s exciting, fast paced and has become the leading form of entertainment. I am proud to be part of that.
What advice would you give to anyone looking to get into it?
Firstly, don’t give up! It can be a really difficult industry to get your first role in, but once you’re in, you won’t want to leave. There are many entry points to the games industry requiring a variety of skillsets. Think about how your skills transfer and get an understanding of how the industry operates – this will build your credibility when you start speaking to recruiters and industry professionals. Building networks and relationships in the industry will help you get a route in, as well as giving you different perspectives on the kind of roles available and the way people work. Don’t be disheartened if your search takes a while – pretty much all our roles attract huge amounts of applications from people with abundant talent. Set yourself apart by focusing on your soft skills and providing demonstrable examples in areas like communication and creative thinking that can really make you stand out.
What are your thoughts on the industry in the last 12 months?
Over the last 12 months the current general climate has been volatile and uncertain. Thankfully, the games industry has stood firm and we’re able to continue with our growth plans. This has given us great opportunities to meet great candidates and welcome some top talent through our doors.
What major trends do you predict in the next 12 months?
We have made huge strides in addressing the lack of diversity and inclusivity in our sector. For instance, we employ a proportionally high number of people who identify as LGBT, and this continues to be a major trend in shaping our initiatives over the next 12 months.
We have made huge strides in addressing the lack of diversity and inclusivity in our sector. For instance, we employ a proportionally high number of people who identify as LGBT, and this continues to be a major trend in shaping our initiatives over the next 12 months. We also work closely with our trade body UKIE to look at this within the sector as a whole, with strong momentum that will enable us to keep doing more. Indeed, this year alongside the likes of Facebook and Microsoft we became a founding partner of the UKIE Diversity Pledge.
How has the games industry changed since you first started?
The world is changing at a fast pace, and the games industry reacts quickly to this. With more and more games moving into live service operations, something Jagex has been doing since its inception almost 20 years ago, providing customer value is key. The industry is growing up. We are seeing more focus on business planning while making sure we keep our fun and creative side ever alive. Live game services create massive communities that have to be moderated so that everyone can play in a safe and welcoming environment – we have huge experience with player wellbeing, which is even more important in the current climate and this is something that gives us a huge competitive edge when we look to attain the best of the best.
Which part of the Connects event are you most looking forward to and why?
I am really looking forward to the event as a whole and connecting with others in the gaming industry to hear others upcoming challenges and opportunities. There is a great list of speakers and seminars at the event and, in particular, I’m excited for the Now & Next – Top Trends in Blockchain Gaming to really hear from industry experts the issues and ideas shaping the blockchain games industry today and tomorrow.