In Their Own Words: Karen Rush, Sr. Development Director, Madden NFL

There are so many opportunities to work in gaming all over the world. Meet Karen Rush from Tiburon.

What is your role at EA?

I’m the Franchise Development Director for Madden NFL. I’m ultimately responsible for all people/project management for Madden, as well as any other operational needs of the team. 

As people managers, we help with career development of our employees – predominantly Software Engineers – but sometimes Designers, Artists, other Development Directors, plus many more. As project managers, we manage our domains to make sure that our project is delivering the expected scope at a high quality and, most importantly, on time.

What made you want to work in the video gaming industry?

I never really aspired to work in the game industry, that was my brother’s thing. I’ve always been a gamer – I pretty much grew up on Nintendo games and have logged more hours in World of Warcraft and The Sims than I’d care to admit – but hadn’t ever thought of making a career in games. 

I moved to Orlando just over five years ago, and at the time I was sort of figuring out what I wanted to do with my life. My brother happens to be an engineer at Tiburon and through him I knew a lot of other people who work here. I knew them to be smart, enthusiastic, passionate people, and those are the sort of people I wanted to work with!

For me, it really came down to the people and culture. You spend a lot of time at your job, so what sort of people and environment do you want to surround yourself with? 

What ultimately led you to working at EA?

My background is in computation linguistics and instructional technology, which has basically zero relevance to gaming and what I do today. And that just goes to show that you can get a job and be successful here even if you don’t have a traditional resume.

I did have some experience in project management for software development while I was an instructional designer, so that was sort of my foot in the door. But EA still took a chance in hiring a DD without any prior game industry experience. They saw in me my passion, curiosity, and genuine desire to learn and grow. And that goes a long way!

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What is the most rewarding thing about your job?

I love helping people develop their careers. It’s a great feeling to see a direct report improve in an area or develop a new skill and know that you had some part in that progress. People managers get to make a positive impact on others’ careers – and lives – in a very direct way. It can be incredibly rewarding.

What is your favorite thing about the working environment at your location?

I love the “work hard, play hard” mentality. This studio is filled with hard working and dedicated people, but we have fun too! There’s even a ball pit in the middle of one of our conference rooms! A few years ago, another manager on Madden was out of the office for a while, so a few people pulled a prank on him by moving the ball pit into his office. For a full week, his desk, chair, and computer were literally sitting in the middle of waist-deep ball pit balls. We had a few meetings in there that week with all of us sitting in the middle of the ball pit, business as usual!

What’s your favorite perk at EA?

For me I’d have to say the new parent leave. Our new policy gives us 10 weeks fully paid leave for both parents! I just had a baby six months ago, and this has allowed me to spend time with my son and not have to give up my career. As a new mom, I’m so grateful for that time.

 

Want to work at Tiburon? Join the team here!

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