Ever wondered what someone working in brand partnerships does? In this interview, as part of our Get To Know series, we speak with Marcie Nymark, the Director of Brand Partnerships at Microsoft.
What do you do at Microsoft and what does your role entail?
I’m a Director of Strategic Brand Partnerships focused on social impact. It’s an incredible role that entails everything from identifying and negotiating new partnerships, working with colleagues to implement tech solutions with our partners, and creating great storytelling to engage audiences with the work we do.
How did you get to your current position (are you able to share a little about your career journey?)
My career journey to here was a winding path, which has served well in this role. I started my career, very briefly, in the non-profit sector and quickly moved into the world of events and experiential marketing. When I joined Microsoft, my role was to lead global event strategy and engage with our key ad agency customers. This was a unique opportunity to sit with creative and media agencies focused on innovative marketing and storytelling. The combination of skills I developed through those roles from marketing to project management, mixed with a personal passion and commitment to the nonprofit sector led me to this specific strategic partnerships role.
What is it like working and progressing career-wise in a traditionally male dominated industry? Have you experienced any challenges due to your gender and if so, how did you overcome them?
I have been incredibly fortunate in my career having had a number of strong female bosses and leaders to follow and learn from. For me personally, challenges due to my gender have luckily not been a common occurrence. From the experiences I have had with gender bias, I’ve learned allies are essential – knowing you’re not alone and you have even one other coworker to lean-on who sees and understands can make all the difference.
I understand that you manage the partnership with the Special Olympics. What does that involve and why is the partnership so important when it comes to gaming and accessibility?
Microsoft and Special Olympics have been partnering since 2014 with a goal of empowering the Special Olympics movement and its athletes through technology. Throughout the partnership we’ve worked on a number of initiatives to support and connect Special Olympics athletes.
Gaming is an exciting and important part of the partnership which we began collaborating on in 2017. The work we’ve done together leading to this inaugural Gaming for Inclusion event is an important step in making esports more accessible. It provides a new way for Special Olympics athletes to compete and creates an opportunity to invite new participants and volunteers into the movement. It also shows Xbox’s commitment to making gaming inclusive and welcoming for everyone and hopefully brings more people with disabilities into the Xbox community.
Recent studies have shown that almost 40-50% of gamers identify as being female. What advice do you have for young girls wanting to pursue their passion and turn it into a career in games?
I’m a firm believer that if you’ve found your passion, you can’t let anything or anyone deter you from it. There will always be someone who thinks your idea won’t work or that you don’t belong, but innovation doesn’t come from fitting in. We need diverse perspectives and experiences in order to create new solutions that work for everyone. Whatever your passion, find others who are interested in it too, support each other and don’t be afraid to reach out for help and mentorship. There are people and companies looking for the next generation of women developers and programs to support you getting there, including Xbox.
At Xbox, we know that to ensure we have diversity in our innovation, we need to have diversity of our people to truly define the next wave of technology that will reach the more than 3 billion gamers worldwide. That is why we believe it’s important to support and recruit women who study STEM subjects and progress into technology roles. For example, we have a rich community of Employee Resource Groups for female Microsoft employees including Women@Microsoft and Women in Gaming that provide career development, support, networking opportunities, mentoring, community participation, product input, and assistance in activities that promote cultural awareness.
Female gamers have mentioned that they’ve had to hide their identities or avoid playing games online in order to avoid the harassment that can come with being a female gamer. What do you think can be done to encourage and empower female gamers to feel comfortable pursuing their passions in games?
Hate and harassment have no place on our platform. At Xbox, we are committed to providing a welcoming and inclusive space for all gamers, and it’s important that we keep talking about the challenges and recognize the issues. I think it’s also important to celebrate the progress being made and the women gamers who are leading the way. Seeing other women play and succeed can inspire more women to join. I love how Xbox is inviting powerful women Xbox Ambassadors to share their experiences and encourage others to keep gaming as well.
Finally, something a little fun. Can you tell us what your favourite game is and why (or if you have one, a favourite memory that involves gaming?)
My favorite memories gaming are still of long family road trips, sitting in the backseat with my sister, playing on our original Gameboys. Sharing games and competing to beat each other’s high score on Tetris made the drive as fun as the destination.