Daily Thoughts

An Unconventional Career Journey: From Failed Games Designer To Learning Specialist

Ok, recently I was asked a very poignant question which made me reflect and take stock of where I’ve come from and how the hell I ended up here as a passionate human focused on learning, growth and performance.

Firstly, there were two questions and they were:

  1. What did you want to be when you were younger?
  2. How does that relate to the professional work you do today?

These are simple but significant questions.

Let me tackle the first one now. 

When I was a small human I wanted to be a games designer. I was (and still very much am) a video game nerd and my heroes were never sports stars but the designer, developers and creators of my favourite games.

I’d never heard of the world of HR (does anyone at school?) and I had zero interest in helping to educate people after the terrible experiences I suffered in my own educational journey. 

I studied computer programming, visual design, and computer art to support my game design aspirations.

I’d always been good with tech so it felt right to combine something I’m good at and something I love, plus I could be paid for it – big win!

My first job in the corporate world was working with one of the world’s most well-known software and hardware developers, Sega Games. Yes, the famous Japanese development studio that creates that speedy blue hedgehog we know as Sonic. 

I joined when I was 19 years old in the quality assurance team with ambitions to work up to the development team. I felt like I was slowly making it!

However, my journey came to an abrupt end 6 months later when I learnt my first lesson about being a contractor. You can be dropped in an instant. A harsh but valuable lesson to learn so young.

In some ways, it was a blessing in disguise, as I’d become tiresome of video games after being with them, playing them and only talking about them for 60 hours a week.

Anyways, that’s what I wanted to be and how I got my start.

I share this for two reasons:

  • All of our journeys are unconventional and no one path rules them all.
  • You will change your mind about what gives you purpose as you age.

Perhaps one day I’ll write or do a full podcast on my career journey to date if anyone is interested. For now, you can fin more on this in the “How win in the Careerverse” playbook.

Now, let’s explore the second question.

What has become clear to me when reflecting on these questions is that what I wanted to be when I was a young human is kinda what I’m doing now, just in a different way.

Let me explain…

Both of these careers focus on creating engaging experiences to inspire, inform and educate. So, although I’m not working on the next great video game franchise. I am building products that do the same in my own little slice of the world.

Funny how that turns out, right?

I write these words today 16/17 years later after that first stop at Sega, and never knowing where I’d end up today. The value of experiences at the breadth and of course focusing on your depth of expertise are all vital.

I believe there is no one way to reach an industry or a role.

Each of us can take opportunities that present themselves to us or we make them happen to forge our own path.

My final point here is not to deter yourself from trying something different because you don’t believe you possess the proper education, skills or expertise.

You just don’t have them now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get them.

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