Q&A with Ciara Calleja, experience program manager for Game Growth
We caught up with Ciara Calleja, experience program manager at Game Growth, to talk about her career journey at Amazon and the exciting projects she’s been leading around Employee Experience, mental health, and people development.
Ciara, let’s start at the beginning. How did you come to work at Amazon Games?
I started my career at Amazon over six years ago as a “banista,” a banana attendant, welcoming visitors and community members and handing out bananas. I had just come back from living overseas, and wasn’t sure where I was going, but I was thankful for the opportunity to pass out positivity with potassium. While the years since have brought me a lot of challenges, it ultimately brought me to Amazon Games at the beginning of the pandemic.
Earlier this year, I was given the opportunity to start a new program within Game Growth focused on employee experience. I became the first Game Growth experience program manager, working on increasing diversity, equity, inclusion, and team health in the organization; and ensuring that current and future employees are being provided an experience to learn, grow, and develop through curated programs that will make them feel like they belong. It is a completely unique job, and I helped create it! How neat is that?
You’re currently working at Game Growth, a team that’s part of Amazon Games that focuses on reimagining how game creators promote their products across the globe to reach new audiences. Tell us a bit more about that.
What Game Growth does for games and gamers is exciting! Our vision is to enable game consumers to easily find and access any game experience, for any platform, anywhere in the world. That encompasses everything from how we can help customers discover games and content they will love, to new retail systems that deliver richer and more meaningful experiences when shopping.
That excitement is interwoven in Game Growth. Our team culture is evolving in an equally exciting way and we let the voices of our employees amplify. We are also actively hiring! We are expanding our teams across multiple job families and locations, with oodles of opportunities. So if you’re out there trying to figure out how to make a difference in the future of games, this is your chance.
Speaking of careers in games, many game enthusiasts dream of someday joining the games industry. How does it feel to be working on something that you’re super-passionate about?
I’ve always loved video games. The escapism that they offered me as a child could only be topped by my relationships with my imaginary friends. To work in games now is unreal. I work alongside heroes. Every day, I am amazed by the innovation, creativity, and exciting ways that gamification constantly comes into my own day to day.
And it’s not just the personal connection with our product, it’s also about the support and culture I experience on a daily basis. I feel really encouraged and motivated to grow at Amazon Games. I feel the passion and drive. I work with leaders who not only believe in me, but also give me the tools I need to believe in myself. I have teammates that I can rely on, confide in, and make me feel validated.
On top of your full-time job at Game Growth, you’re also the Games Chapter Lead for our Mental Health and Well-Being Affinity Group...
That’s right! Focusing on our mental health and wellness is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves. Amazon has helped me manage my well-being multiple times in the past, through employee resource centers, HR, and supportive managers. Being involved in these groups allows me to use my voice and experience to be a better advocate for others.
Let’s talk about games! Any all-time favorites? What are you playing now?
Growing up, every game system I bought was always based off of what Kingdom Hearts game was coming out. I adore the series, as it combines two things I love: JRPGS and Disney. Having different gaming systems allowed me to discover games like Rune Factory and Persona. Currently, I just picked up Persona Ultimate Arena for the Switch, as well as Rune Factory, where I tend to my digital farm and keep plants alive … unlike in the real world.
And to wrap it up, any advice to those seeking to work in gaming?
I would say don’t feel limited by what you think is out there. Games are what they are because of the creative collaboration of collective ideas and efforts of others, and that includes you! Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone, or strike up a conversation — chances are, if working in games is your passion, you will find many others that feel exactly the same.
Ready to make a big impact in the gaming industry? Check out our Game Growth opportunities at amazon.jobs/gamegrowth