Career Day

Career Day
A Casual Environment

Shannon "Vandemar" Drake | 4 Sep 2007 13:23
Career Day - RSS 2.0

For those working at PopCap, he says the lifestyle is pretty casual. "We get to have beer/food Fridays, do two to three companywide volunteer days a year. We bring non-profits in to talk to people about donating (and match donations). We encourage, nay, force people to play games at work, and we really try to make sure people are able to spend time with their families and not kill themselves working insanely long hours. Many of us are 'refugees' from the hardcore side of the business, and none of us want to go back to working 60-plus hour work weeks!" He emphasizes that it's important that people get a chance to "breathe," saying, "If you're working 60-80 hours a week, you're probably not happy, probably not productive over the long haul, can't really make the decisions and are definitely not as creative as you should be. What's funny is that if you really respect people's personal time, you'll have people a lot more happy when they do have to work longer hours."

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The sort of person they're looking for is "someone who has a high level of personal accountability, and who wants to get shit done. People who want to play politics, build empires or half-ass it tend to get weeded out very quickly. We also need people who can have a vision for something and move that forward. You don't have a say at PopCap because you have a title. You have a say at PopCap because you say intelligent things, listen, and have gotten a lot of quality work done. ... The company culture is one of 'nothing is ever good enough.' When we add a new feature to a game, we always ask ourselves how to make it better. When we release a new redesign on the website, we immediately want to redesign it again to make it even better. We do something great, slap ourselves on the back and then immediately try to do something better."

Ultimately, Vechey says they're "building a company where people are able to enjoy doing really great things. We're a company where you put in your all because you know everyone else is, and a company where we're all on the same team, working towards the same goals. I know this all sounds clich├ęd, but it's true."

He uses a recent example from his team, where everyone had been working hard, but they also had to work weekends to get everything done. "The web managers and I asked everyone what would make their lives easier. Everyone came up with a great list of stuff that helped us optimize all of our development and processes on the team. No one tried to offload work, but when they saw what other groups needed, people would almost always step up to do more work to make everyone's life easier. It was great because it had the net benefit of making less extra 'work' for everyone, so we could take the time needed to do the important stuff."

The Stephanie Test: Stephanie Jessel, Senior HR Generalist/Staffing Specialist
Stephanie Jessel is an experienced HR Generalist with over eight years of experience, most of that time at fast-growing companies. She started at PopCap last October. "Given the growth of not only our company, but the casual games industry in general, we have had to work pretty fast to bring quality talent in house and build HR infrastructure at the same time, Jessel says. "It's been an unbelievably exciting time for me in my career."

"PopCap Material" varies from department to department, she says, "but the overarching profile that makes a super PopCap applicant is: Individuals that are outstanding performers in their discipline, strong at building relationships between dynamic groups and teams of people, are willing to take risks, ask questions, adaptable to a quickly moving and changing environment, capable of working under minimal guidance and process, are passionate about what they do and about games, and generally want to have fun." Perhaps understating a bit, she adds, "We don't ask for much!"

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