Embracing Diversity Series: Mada Niculae
Working Moms and Game Development Teams
Mada originally wrote this amazing blog for Women in Games (where she is also an ambassador) about how she got better at her job by combining parenting techniques and project management skills. We're honoured to be able to feature the thoughts and teachings of our lovely team on our website and beyond - so that everyone can benefit. Enjoy!
When I initially watched the Working Moms TV series, I thought it was a little too relevant (like many moms out there). The pressure to be a good mom, to also be a provider and not let go of your career, to do everything and still have time for yourself, family, and to always be outstanding. Even with all of my own mom’s help (give credit where credit is due), I felt like a failure most of the time.
This is how I improved at my profession while combining parenting techniques and project management ideas…
Back to feelings and context: society sets a very high standard for people to live up to, which causes great worry and self-doubt in me: You must breastfeed, cook, and clean; parenthood must be wonderful and natural; you must continue to care for yourself and further your education… Isn’t everyone doing it? If you don’t excel, or worse, fail even for a second, you’re not a good mother, right? Wrong!
I have to say it for everyone who is just starting out: we do what we can and attempt to get better every day.
When I put my job on hold to have two children, it felt so lonely.
I had to back out of a huge opportunity that I had been working towards for three years, but my babies came first, so it was fine. Wasn’t it?
I didn’t recognise myself for the majority of the two years before I returned to work (despite the fact that I was fortunate to have a very long and well-paid maternity leave in Romania, which I know is not the case in most places). My bone density had been damaged by the high-risk pregnancy, C-section, breastfeeding, and parenthood in general; lack of sleep had given me neurasthenia, and I had some speech aphasia.
I could barely read, let alone have a profession after this, but I tried to establish acceptable expectations for myself and always gave myself permission to fail; to take it easy for my own sanity while constantly working to grow better.
What is the significance of this? Because following these learnings helps to foster a positive work environment that strives for the greatest results.
To begin with, a team is similar to a family: we spend so much time together at work and on a daily basis that we must treat each other with respect and help each other in difficult situations. We are all dealing with personal concerns that will affect how we operate, and we must recognise this. Furthermore, we all require safe venting locations and a support network to help us navigate through various difficulties, both within and outside of work.
This leads to the second point: driven individuals will constantly strive for excellence. This is applicable to both children and your workplace team. Everyone’s motivation is different, therefore take the time to learn about and get to know your team’s overall motivation. In larger teams, this may not be practical for each individual member, but you can start with your immediate colleagues and work your way up to extended team members over the length of the project.
I have to add that I am really fortunate to have had a fantastic work support team here at MPG, who have always given me the confidence to use these principles and to trust myself to make mistakes as long as they are not purposeful, and the end objective is always to achieve the best for our projects and people.
I can only hope that my experience gives people the confidence to lead with kindness and to know that you’re still brilliant – no matter what you set your mind to after parenthood!
If you'd like to know more about MPG and how we work, check out these pages: