Career Spotlight: Tammy Delahaye, Software Engineer at EA

Tammy Delahaye, Software Engineer at EA

by Kristi Charish

Continuing on with our ‘Women on Careers’ interviews, Tammy Delahaye, a software engineer at video game giant Electronic Arts, chatted with me about how she ended up in her career path and her experience working as a woman in the gaming industry!

Q: Tammy, what is your role at EA Sports? (i.e.: on a daily basis?)

A: Technically, I’m a Software Engineer for EA Sports Online. More specifically, I am a web developer and technical lead for http://www.easports.com, contributing to both easports.com as well as a few other sites related to the EA Sports franchises.

Q: What was your career path? Where did you start and how did you end up in the video game industry? What was your background?

A: My career path started with a B.Sc in Computer Science at UBC. I ended up in CompSci on a fluke – while I was young and directionless, I took an ‘Intro to Computer Science’ class because the class I really wanted (Music Theory!) was full. I figured that the intro course would be easy, considering I’d spent my entire life to date around computers. It wasn’t, but while learning about boolean algebra and control structures something just clicked in my brain, and that’s how I chose my major. After graduating I actually worked as a software developer creating machine control applications, but the web exploded and I transitioned over time to become a full-time web dev. Working in the game industry was never specifically a goal of mine – it was just where my career lead me. It’s turned out to be an awesome industry to be a part of; it’s an industry consumed with a unique passion and love for the products and culture that is a ton of fun to be involved with.

Q: If you could think of one career obstacles, what was it and how did you overcome it?

My biggest career challenge to date has been getting pigeon-holed into a specific technology. Working with one tech in one job you learn a lot of the specifics of that tech, but it can be challenging to move on and convince hiring managers that you are capable of working with anything else. The way around that roadblock is to keep up-to-date on the technologies you are interested in, and spend some time actually working with the tech on your own time – build a website, contribute to an open source project, write an app, do whatever it is you want to do. Being able to point to something you’ve built shows so many positive things, including passion and commitment – in addition to a raw skill set.

Q: When interviewing new candidates what are some of the major (and general) mistakes you see on resumes or in interviews?

A: I’m a strong believer that individual programming languages and technology stacks can be taught to any candidate with a strong development foundation. What I care about the most when reviewing candidates (in addition to their technical skill set) is their passion, their desire to keep learning and improving, and their fit within the team.

Q: Video gaming is still perceived as a male-dominated industry (even though women now make up almost fifty percent of gamers), and there have been a number of articles published on the ‘brogramer’ mentality in tech. What has been your experience with this and what is the game industry like for women now?

A: It’s no secret the tech industry is very male-dominated, and in my experience the gaming industry is pretty similar in that regard. As a woman in both fields, my experience has been that gender is almost a non-issue. The focus is on your contributions to the company and what you are capable of, not which chromosomes you may or may not have. This has been especially true during my time at EA, which as an organisation promotes equality and diversity as some of its core values.

Q: If you could give one piece of career advice to women in tech and/or students reading this, what would it be?

A: My advice for women in tech is to avoid making the gender distinction and just follow your passion. Never stop learning and building. The tech industry is powered by people with an incredible passion for what they do, and with that passion anything is possible.

Q: Final question- since you work in video games, what is your favourite video game, and/or favourite female video game character?

A: I tend to be more of a casual gamer. I absolutely love the tower defense subgenre, and to keep it within the EA family I’ll go with Plants vs Zombies for favourite game.