Womenize! – Inspiring Stories is our weekly series featuring inspirational individuals from games and tech. For this edition we talked to Franziska Elsaesser, Strategic Partnerships Development Manager & Sustainability/DEI Gaming Lead at Google. She speaks about how she followed her interests and instincts, seizing opportunities that felt right, leading her to her current role and advocating for diversity and inclusion in gaming. Read more about Franziska in this interview:
Hi Franziska! Reflecting on your career from a Management Trainee to your current role, can you share some insights into how you think about career planning and why and how you did end up in your current role working on strategic partnerships?

Looking back at my work life so far, I think it was a fair mix of being at the right time at the right place, going for things I am genuinely interested in and not simply following the outlined path if I felt it wasn’t mine. In my management programme, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to test a lot of different roles over an 18 months circuit through a publishing and media company. Apps were still a nascent business in 2013, but I got the opportunity to join an in-house start-up developing an app. The team, business and opportunity felt right to me, so I decided to not stay in the mother company taking a more classical management role, but join the start-up full time, learning a ton about how to build an app and gaming business from scratch. In hindsight, it was a fortunate choice, opening up the doors to Google and bringing me eventually to my current position, but I remember I was really not certain if “this apps start-up” was the right choice career-wise. So I would always advise anyone to take their time when making choices, but also trust their gut on what feels right!

Your current position also involves driving a more inclusive gaming ecosystem, including organizing “Diversity in Games” events. How do you see these events evolving to further impact the industry, and what outcomes are you most passionate about achieving in the realm of diversity and inclusion within gaming?

I really see a great evolution over the past years in the industry. When I started to get active in driving a more inclusive gaming ecosystem, the audience at events was normally 90% female-identifying no matter how inclusive the invitations were. In November 2023, we organized a huge conference together with one of our partners in Northern Europe with around 1000 people and for the first time we dedicated a whole content track to Diversity & Inclusion. I was curious to see if people would be choosing this track over growth, product and tech focused tracks and was overwhelmed by people standing in the room due to not enough seats. And it was a truly diverse audience! So I do believe we have come a long way and there is an appetite to learn more! Many leaders start to understand diversity and inclusion are no longer a nice-to-have niche strategy, but will be vital to create successful businesses, engaging games and be appealing to the audiences in the future.

As a leader, what words of advice or wisdom would you share with aspiring talents looking to make an impact in the gaming and technology sectors, especially those who aim to follow a path similar to yours?

I believe in the power of teamwork and getting together to drive change. No matter if you are just starting your career, or if you are already more advanced, it is vital to find like minded people you can trust and build a network with – inside but also outside of your own company. I was lucky enough to meet those people, and we have built amazing projects together based on trust, aligned visions and the desire to change things.

Thanks for this interview, Franziska!

Franziska’s links: LinkedIn

Womenize! – Inspiring Stories Feature by Madeleine Egger