It Takes a Team: a Conversation with VMC President Juliana Su

Since becoming VMC President in 2016, Juliana Su has had a powerful impact on both the company’s services and its culture. We asked what brought her to VMC, and where she wants to lead the company in the future. Here’s part one of our Q&A.

What excited you to join VMC?

My career has always been with technology companies, from start-ups to large publicly traded companies. I headed up and grew global Professional Services departments for two start-ups and eventually became Chief Operating Officer for one. I wanted a short break from the demands of the corporate world and started by own consulting company, and that’s when VMC came along. It was an opportunity too attractive to pass up – that is, the chance to work with an established technology services company with a solid reputation in the Games industry. Upon joining VMC, I quickly learned that VMC has a lot of talented people, an impressive customer base, and strong services offerings. The company just needed some leaders with technology and Games experience who could quickly operationally re-focus VMC to function like an agile, technology services company.

Describe the culture at the company and your vision for VMC.

I’ve always found that technology does not age well – that is, something new is always on the heels of a current trend. VMC’s biggest asset is its people – people who can think out of the box, who are agile and collaborative and see opportunities where they are not obvious. I’ve always said that I can’t do this alone – it’s not my vision we’re implementing but one that we all collectively believe in. I’ve been with and advised enough start-ups to know that one person alone can’t single-handedly make a company successful. It takes a team. We are all here to take on a role and do it well. That’s what makes VMC successful.

I also don’t believe in a “walled” executive team – everyone at every level should be approachable, accessible, and just one phone call or email away. VMC started 16 years ago with a few opportunities and some individuals with initiative, courage, and moxie. I want us to get back to those roots – let’s be brave and go after opportunities, knowing that sometimes we win and sometimes we lose. Let’s work smartly and embrace our mission – “to ensure the most innovative companies in the world deliver an excellent product experience to every customer everywhere” – and quickly evolve and adjust along the way.

What is the company doing to support and expand that culture?

VMC is headquartered in Redmond, WA, home to some of the most successful technology companies in the world, several of which are our customers. During one leadership meeting, we were discussing how challenging it can be for companies, even established ones such as VMC, to navigate the push toward overall growth while continuing to drive hard toward operational and financial efficiencies. We discussed how this becomes even more daunting for start-up companies and how VMC is well-positioned to help since we’re going through a transformation ourselves. Fortunately, we have talented employees and an experienced leadership team. We decided we needed two paths – one external and one internal. That’s where the ideas of our EXP Lab incubator and Ideation Forum were born.

We decided to tap personal and business connections in the Games space to get the word out about the VMC incubator, an “if we build it, they will come” mentality. VMC has available lab space in the Redmond office as well as strong team members who understand the Games industry well. Our BD team leveraged VMC’s attendance at Games conferences to identify candidate companies for the incubator. And thanks to the hard work of many, we’ve recently signed on our first start-up and are evaluating another.

HR departments will tell you that employee engagement and satisfaction is about more than just compensation. It’s about liking and resonating with the people you work with, seeing opportunities for career advancement, having a voice and influence in the direction of your company, having a sense of ownership, and having a strong corporate culture.

At my previous company, we had an Ideation Forum where employees could submit ideas and receive recognition and a small award for the one voted most innovative. We decided to take it one step further at VMC. A committee comprised of all VMC departments (and no LT members) would vote and select the most innovative idea at the beginning of FY Q4, just in time for the budget planning for the next FY. The idea owner would be responsible for drafting a business case (with support, of course) and meeting with VMC’s CFO to allocate FY budget for implementation. Throughout the fiscal year, the idea owner is responsible for project managing the idea from inception to implementation. All with the support and collaboration of the VMC Leadership Team.

And last, but definitely not least, are internship positions for “up and coming” Games talent. VMC connected with some of the local Games Technology Institutes earlier this year. The original purpose for these connections was to educate ourselves on what’s new and what’s coming. We thought “what better place to do this than where talent is educated and trained.” After a few meetings with the heads of these schools, we discovered that in addition to getting an inside track on the latest trends, we could help broaden the experience of students through internships at VMC or with our customers, thereby investing in our future. It’s still a work in progress but we’re really excited about the possibilities.

Since you’ve been in the consulting space for over a decade, especially in mobility, how do you set the direction for VMC leveraging its core business?

To start, I would have never said that I was a “gamer” before I joined VMC. I have apps on my tablet and phone that are strategy puzzles, and I’d occasionally play Minecraft with my daughter. Then I started working at VMC and realized the breadth of Games is well beyond the console and video. There is a fast-growing marketplace for gaming on mobile devices and in the Cloud.

The reach of mobility is ubiquitous and vast. According to a recent GSMA report, there are 5B mobile phone users worldwide today and in the US alone, 77% of those are smartphones. The mobility addressable marketplace is huge with respect to anything that touches the consumer. And in terms of the Gaming industry, this includes everything from traditional video gaming to VR/AR gaming to casual gaming to loyalty programs.

What does this mean for VMC? That we continue to invest and grow with our clients so they can better serve their customer base. We have a long and strong history of delivering quality services to Gaming clients. To remain relevant, we need to stay ahead of the growth curve, not only continuing to deliver those quality services but evolving to include thought leadership around how to enhance the user experience in the Games space. It’s no longer just about the number of defects that are found and corrected, but about gathering and, more importantly, interpreting data about how Games are being played, player’s preferences, and predictive trends. Our investment will include Technology and Games-specific data analysts who can interpret data and provide predictive business intelligence on how to enhance the player experience, the trends that will lead to the next “big” game, how to keep a loyal fan base, and more.

In parallel, we continue to chase opportunities in the connected consumer space, including all types of connect devices — ones that are worn, driven, and inhabited. By leveraging our Gaming industry expertise in QA and Compatibility Testing, Certification and Localization, we can pivot to offer these relevant and much sought-after services in the connected marketplace as well. This diversification of our client portfolio will generate the revenue and income that will allow VMC to continue investing and innovating in our core businesses: Games and Customer Care.

Read part two of our Q&A with Juliana Su here.

It Takes a Team: a Conversation with VMC President Juliana Su

Recap of 17th Annual Women in Gaming Luncheon at GDC

women in gaming - GDC

VMC had the pleasure of attending the 17th Annual Women in Gaming luncheon held during GDC 2017. Sponsored by Team Xbox, the theme for the event was “Be You.”  Emceed by Erin “Aureylian” Wayne (Lead Community Manager at Twitch, single mom, and gamer,) attendees enjoyed a range of engaging tech leaders sharing their career experiences in our industry:

  • Mariebeth Aquino, Founder at 360opportunity
  • Dr. Kelli Dunlap, Psychologist & Game Designer
  • Maureen Fan, CEO & Co-Founder of Baobab Studios
  • Elizabeth Maler, CEO of Accidental Queens
  • Jenny Xu, MIT Student, owner of JCSoft Inc

The crowd response revealed how many of the stories were very relatable to the attendees, including tales of imposter syndrome, sexist culture, and feeling outnumbered or out of place. Amid all of the nods and claps, it was encouraging that these stories were being told at a Women in Gaming event – and the 17th annual occurrence. It was great to see Jenny Xu giving a shout out to Kate Edwards, Executive Director of the IGDA, for encouraging her in game design. It’s inspiring to see innovative leaders supporting other leaders.

What’s interesting about hearing such stories is that the data clearly underscores the value of women in senior management roles in the tech industry. In a study by Dezsö and Ross of 1,500 U.S. firms in the S&P, female representation in top management improved financial performance for organizations where innovation is a key piece of the business strategy. Gallup has found that companies with more diverse teams (including more women) have a 22% lower turnover rate. Moreover, organizations with more inclusive cultures also have an easier time with recruiting.

At VMC, this data hits close to home. In July 2016, we welcomed Juliana Su as VMC President. Ms. Su has a proven record of leadership and innovation with companies in the connected and digital space, including 13 years as COO and Global Vice President at Openet. This expertise made her the clear choice for leading our strategic expansion into IoT, streaming media, and other new areas.

It was a pleasure to see these successful women urging attendees to be themselves and be authentic. That’s not always easy in our industry, but it’s an essential aspect of how people can add value to the projects they work on.  Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself, everyone else is taken.” That still rings true in the game industry, because true diversity happens when everyone brings their true self to their work.

Recap of 17th Annual Women in Gaming Luncheon at GDC

Women in Gaming: An Evening of Insights at Team Xbox

Women in Gaming at Xbox

Last night VMC attended the Women in Gaming dinner, hosted by Team Xbox. It was a fantastic event and featured four Microsoft speakers on a variety of gaming topics, starting with Microsoft’s Gaming for Everyone initiative (known as G4E) and ending with a great talk on Cloud Gaming.

We were pleasantly surprised to see a gaming area where you could demo HoloLens, which was fun to watch people experience for the first time, and included an inspiring talk about HoloLens by Jasmine Lawrence of Team Xbox. Aubrey Norris also gave an engaging talk about her work running PR for the Minecraft team – a dream job – after growing up in an impoverished coal mining town in Pennsylvania. She may be thousands of miles away from that town now, but the irony that coal is one of the key resources in Minecraft wasn’t lost on anyone!

The evening ended with Anandhi Bumstead, one of the engineers who helped build Azure, discussing the work that’s being done to create a gaming platform for the cloud. Microsoft is clearly working on some really great technology, and we’re excited to see these gaming initiatives and technologies grow. Thank you team Xbox for the invite!

Women in Gaming: An Evening of Insights at Team Xbox