Mentor Stories

From Pharma to FarmVille:
An Interesting Career Transformation

 

Ever wondered what will it be like to join a company whose ardent customer you are? Have you ever thought MBA can actually take you to very different places?

Here is story about an ardent player, payer in games and a MBA graduate. Aparajita loves playing games (not the PUBG/shooting types but simple candy crush types!). But her gaming habit started with a game called Farmville in 2009. She gradually moved to playing Farmville 2 in 2012 almost as soon as the game was launched. She heard about it from a fellow MBA graduate (in 2012) when she was doing her 1-year MBA in IIM Bangalore. She was working in Dr. Reddy’s for 7 years before joining MBA. Wanting to explore technology side too, she moved to Tech Mahindra post MBA, but went back to “my original space – Pharma” after 18 months. (As she likes to call it)

For last 6 years, she kept playing Farmville2 and other games. She became an advanced player and moved to level 145. Many of her well-wishers wanted her to stop and do something “productive”, but for her this was a way of expression beyond plain entertainment. She didn’t know that playing the game would lead to an interesting turn in her future life!

One day in 2017, The Farmville team reached out to her as a part of their process to connect with regular players. She gave them detailed feedback from her rich experience while playing the game. She also suggested them improvements/opportunity which she saw in other games. Being inherently curious, she asked the team about Product management. She got interested in the same and in the thrilling moment of giving feedback, she gave her resume also to the team. But, as she was sure her Pharma experience won’t take her to a gaming company, she forgot about the whole incident.

Suddenly, one day she got call from Zynga whether she can prepare an assignment. They found out that not only is she an advanced Farmville player/payer, but also a MBA from the top B-School in India and a graduate from BITS Pilani, another top grad school in India. She already had 11+ years of work experience across operations, business development, licensing, technology and strategy. The team invited her for an interview at their Bangalore office.

“Now things were getting serious. They had called me to their office in Bangalore from my Hyderabad location. Senior people were getting involved. And I had no clue of what I was getting into! I then spoke to a few of my batch mates and alums who worked as product managers to understand what they exactly did in their day jobs. Speaking with the right people helped me to build a perspective and prepare myself for discussions at Zynga.”

The interview was a good process testing her analytical skills, understanding of tougher situations, overall strategy, design aspects and creative side. She was asked questions regarding multiple roles which she had played at Dr. Reddy’s and Tech Mahindra. She candidly replied that she gets bored of doing things for a long time. But, she had the nagging question in her mind, so she asked them on why did they even consider her for an interview, when she has mainly pharma experience.

“With love for games and an MBA, you do make a good fit. That’s what we look for Product Management in Zynga” (was told to her by Zynga, India head)

She got the Product Manager role at Zynga and happily moved to Bangalore to start her new stint in Jan 2018.

Though, the above story may sound serendipitous, Aparajita had stuck to her core of being creative and doing what she loves.  This is also a lesson for those who want to switch their careers – not being from the industry or domain is fine, but you need to have one extremely strong competency, which could be used in the new role! It is also important to understand to explore new things and be curious about things around you.

There is one more an interesting observation: if an organization is convinced that you can make an impact positively, they are willing to take a bet on you, irrespective of whether you have a relevant background in that industry or not. This lesson is even more important at this time when there are so many emerging careers for which, nobody might have any relevant background. To get into and eventually succeed in those careers be focused on loving what you do and using it to make an impact. It’s important to be open-minded and learn and connect different industries.

After spending 1 year in understanding nuances of the industry and the game from “other side”, she is heading to take a more challenging task for her favorite game. She has been one of our passionate mentors’ at GoCrackit and she loves helping people in the careers! We thank Aparaijta for agreeing to help people who want to succeed in their career and share her story.

Co-authoured by Aprajita Chattopadhyay, Product Manager at Zynga

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