In Their Own Words: Mala Singh

We sat down with new Chief People Officer Mala Singh to hear what she's looking forward to and learn a little more about what makes this leader tick.

2016-09-08
Electronic Arts

Mala Singh is joining EA as our new Chief People Officer. Mala has held leadership positions at Minted, Bristol-Myers Squib, and previously spent nearly six years at EA in various roles around the world. We sat down with her to hear what she's looking forward to and learn a little more about what makes this leader tick.

Welcome back, Mala! What inspired you to rejoin EA and take on this role?

I am really inspired by the tremendous amount of new thinking and focus that's happening today inside global companies to create amazing workplaces and employee experiences. I spent a number of years of my career focused on transformation, but these last few years have been completely focused on growth. I'm excited to take what I've learned at a smaller startup and apply those principles on a bigger scale. I want to challenge EA to think differently and push us to make things simpler, faster and really drive results for our people. 

During your career, you've had the opportunity to work in Asia, Europe and here in North America. What is something you've learned taking on international roles?

What I've learned by working in different cultures is that you can't walk in to any environment with a set of assumptions. You have to step back and listen carefully to really understand the unique context of every single situation before you figure out the right approach. The beautiful thing about having to adapt to so many different environments is that I learned to be really scrappy and think through each situation very carefully. You have to accept that different geographies and cultures operate differently and not all ideas will come from the center. All companies have an identity that is central, a shared purpose and core set of beliefs across the organization, but how they show up in different regions or cultures will vary. It's important to allow employees to internalize an idea and make it their own.

That's one of the reasons why I am so deeply passionate about diversity. Every person comes to the table with different experiences that help construct who they are and influence their decision-making. As an organization, it's our role to ensure we allow people to be who they are, get rid of any barriers that get in the way of them doing their best work, and allow for varied perspectives.

What's the secret to unlocking creativity for employees in an industry like videogames? Does it take a different approach?

I think it comes down to a few components. First, this intersection of creativity and technology is one that is just very salient for me. What I love about working with creative talent is they see the world through a different lens than mine, and they also want to be inspired. So from my perspective, unlocking the potential of creative talent is all about how you create an environment that's truly inspiring. I'm not just talking about the physical environment, although that's a component, but I'm talking about creating a space that allows people to experiment, try new things, fail and learn.

It's important in this type of industry to hire exceptional talent, and then allow people to work side by side with people who inspire them. Then you need managers who see their roles as removing barriers and allowing people to do what they do best.

What are you most looking forward to joining EA?

There are a few things! Having spent time at EA before, it's so exciting to come back and work with a team I know so well. That opportunity doesn't happen often in your career to join a team - and I'm talking about both the executive team and the HR organization - where you already have so much trust. That's huge, I'm excited to work again with people who I consider colleagues and friends.

I also think that of all the organizations I've been a part of, there has never been a more passionate organization than EA. Our players are intensely passionate and the company attracts people who love what we create, and that energy is contagious.

And then of course, joining EA means my cool factor at home will go up significantly. I will never be as hip a mom to my children as when I work for EA.

Ok, let's do a few quick questions to get to know you a little better. Favorite videogame of all time?

Miner 2049er. It's an old one, but I have a soft spot for anything from that era that I played when I was a kid. It was totally a new medium then and it was so innovative.

Favorite EA memory?

The first time I visited the headquarters from Singapore, I walked into the lobby and the trailer for Burnout Paradise was playing, blaring Guns N' Roses 'Paradise City'. Coming from conservative companies, I remember thinking, “Dorothy, you're not in Kansas anymore. This is amazing.”

Where is the place you most want to travel?

I have wanderlust, so my whole bucket list is places I want to see in the world and right now exploring the Middle East tops the list, as soon as the situation stabilizes.

What's your comfort food?

Any kind of fried potato or my mom's chicken curry.

How do you unwind and unplug?

On the weekend, I love to bake with my kids - I find it relaxing and then of course you get to enjoy the results. But during the week, I love reading through Reddit forums about news, art, the Earth, or cat GIFs. I find the dialogue and social commentary on these forums really interesting and I love how people use it to display their talent. It inspires me.


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