Supporting role: Lara Coulson and Rebecca Arachchiae

3rd October 2018

 The Girls’ Network was established in 2013. Its mission was to inspire and empower all young women to achieve their full potential by connecting them with a network of professional women. Having started in London, the organisation was set up in the North East in January this year and mentors from the business world are working with pupils in three local schools to build their mentees’ confidence and share their knowledge and experience. Lara Coulson,  a games designer at Reflections, an Ubisoft Studio, is mentoring Rebecca (Becca) Arachchiae, a Year 11 pupil from Cardinal Hume School in Gateshead

Lara Coulson

I always enjoyed playing games and decided I wanted to become a game designer at 12-years-old. It was the combination of creativity, logic, and problem-solving that appealed to me the most.

After studying a degree in games design at Brunel University London, I joined Ubisoft Reflections as a junior games designer. My role is all about making sure the game is fun for players. I design how certain parts of the game should be played, and communicate those ideas to programmers and artists.

A colleague on my team first heard about The Girls’ Network and promoted it around the studio. Only 20 per cent of all game developers are women, so I’m eager to encourage the younger generation and represent women wherever I can.

Becca and I met for our first mentoring session in March 2018. I was immediately impressed by her intelligence and thoughtfulness. Our shared interest in gaming was exciting and I felt The Girl’s Network did an excellent job of matching us together.

We meet every month with the aim of developing Becca’s confidence and career skills. Session topics vary from interviewing and career choices, to cultivating curiosity. We discuss Becca’s questions about the games industry and areas in which she would like to improve. The time always goes too quickly.

Becca also recently took part in the Ubisoft Gaming School where she designed and developed her own game in a week.

I think there are plenty of girls who are interested in gaming and tech careers but the problem is that they’re subtly discouraged from a young age. It’s important to see women working in their dream gaming and tech jobs.

I hope that knowing someone who works in gaming has shown Becca that it’s a viable and achievable career.

Rebecca Arachchiae

When I was given the opportunity to apply for The Girls’ Network by my teacher, Miss Wheelhouse, in January, I was instantly curious and interested. I felt it would give me the help and recourses I needed to plan a solid career path for my future. I attended the matching event at school and was paired with my mentor, Lara, as my ambition is to be a games designer.

Every month, I meet with Lara, either at the Northern Design Centre or Sage Gateshead, for mentoring sessions. She has helped me by being open to discussing anything to do with school and my future career plans. She never judges me for anything I say.

Lara has helped me to feel secure about pursuing a career path that I was once confused about.

I’ve found The Girls’ Network extremely beneficial and it has been a wonderful opportunity. It has also made me realise that I’m not the only girl unsure about future plans and it has given me an understanding that there are lots of women who have careers in male-dominated environments and have overcome challenges to be successful.

The Girls’ Network has given me fantastic work experience too. I spent a week at Performance Horizon, an IT company based in Newcastle, and this summer, I attended Ubisoft Gaming School – with Lara’s support. I developed my understanding of aspects of art, sound, coding and design which was brilliant. At the end of the week, I felt I had accomplished something I never thought I would have the opportunity to do.

After my work experience and my mentoring by Lara, I am even more inspired by a future in games design as a career path. Not only do I enjoy playing video games but I’m fascinated by bringing ideas together in a team to create something amazing. The Girls’ Network has given me so many wonderful opportunities and I will be delighted to continue as an ambassador.

The Girls’ Network
For more information or to become an inspirational female mentor, visit: www.thegirlsnetwork.org.uk/

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