Womenize! – Inspiring Stories is our weekly series featuring inspirational women from games and tech. For this edition we talked to Tamsin O’Luanaigh, Chief People Officer at nDreams. Tamsin gives us insights into her work as CPO, as well as the importance of mental health in the games industry. Read more about Tamsin in this interview:
Hi Tamsin! Could you share the reasons why you decided to enter the games industry (after working for IBM for many years)?

Having worked for IBM for 10 years after leaving university, I was fortunate to try my hand at lots of different roles, from help desk support to project and resource management. I’ve always enjoyed working with people and having that connection with the team around you has always been important to me, particularly when it comes to areas such as recruitment, deployment, and the personal development of teams.

I eventually left IBM when I first started my family and in 2006, when I was pregnant with my second child, my husband Patrick and I founded nDreams and we have not looked back since. Patrick had been in the games industry for many years prior to this, so it was a natural move for him to make. My operational experience that I gained whilst at IBM meant that I was equipped to run the back-office roles of the business, like Finance, HR, Health & Safety, and so on. As we have evolved over our 15 years, I’ve been able to grow our operations team so that I no longer need to be a one woman show!

What are your main responsibilities as Chief People Officer?

Over the years, my role has changed a lot. I started by doing a little of everything, but my role now allows me to specialise in our people and our culture. As Chief People Officer, I oversee our HR, Learning & Development, and Recruitment teams. They look after the employee experience throughout their lifecycle with us, from the moment they first encounter nDreams, through to their first day, personal development and growth whilst they’re here, and outbound support once they move on to pastures new. Our core focus is the attraction, selection, development, and retention of our teams. This can include many strategies, such as health & wellbeing, compensation, EDI (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion), employee relations, and so on. This doesn’t just determine our internal approach to the industry and the game developer community either, as I also get involved on behalf of nDreams with other organisations where we feel we can make a difference, such as UKIE, Into Games, Grads in Games, and so on. 

I certainly have my own areas of interest within my role, and I feel passionately about developing an inclusive culture and a diverse team who can thrive in that environment. I also want us to be providing an education for our team and for those aspiring to join the industry in some capacity, which is why we created the nDreams Academy. Not only that, but I want to push and champion the accessibility in our games, as well as the health and wellbeing of our team.

Why did you choose to become a Mental Health First Aider?

I became a Mental Health First Aider, alongside my HR Manager, a few years ago on a course taught by MHFA England. It was a fantastic experience that opened my eyes to a lot of conditions I might otherwise have been unaware of, but it also really helped me understand and reinforce the importance of signposting support and not trying to do everything yourself. When you know your team well and you want the best for them you do everything you can to provide support when it is needed, but that can of course take an emotional toll over a prolonged period.

We have trained more Mental Health First Aiders within the business now, and many of our Line Managers within the studio are Mental Health Champions too. Providing these in person support systems, in addition to the wellbeing resources and free counselling that are already in place, is so important as everyone has a different way of reaching out. We try to capture everyone, making access to mental wellness services as seamless as possible, considering the wide spectrum of comfortability our team might have when asking for help. 

This remains one of my greatest responsibilities as CPO, alongside the work we’re doing on culture and diversity within the company, and the nDreams Academy. I look forward to seeing what the next 15 years hold for us.

Thank you for your time, Tamsin!

Tamsin’s links: nDreams WebsiteLinkedInTwitter

Womenize! – Inspiring Stories Feature by Sophie Brügmann