As the daughter of a French mother and an Italian father, Maud Facchini grew up in a multicultural household in Paris. She attended business school in France, where she quickly realized that the classic finance and marketing jobs her classmates were pursuing weren't a good fit for her. If she wanted to find a sense of career satisfaction, she would have to find a job following one of her passions: movies, music, or videogames.
Unwilling to compromise on her dreams, Facchini found a way to combine her interest in multiculturalism and international travel with her passion for entertainment. Following her graduation, she moved to London and worked in film marketing at Universal Pictures for several years. As a lifelong gamer, Facchini always kept her ear to the ground regarding the videogame industry, so when a friend at Ubisoft told her about an open position on an unannounced game from Ubisoft Annecy, she jumped on the chance, and has worked as an international brand manager on Steep for the past two and a half years.
Why did you want to move to London?
Maud Facchini: London is a vibrant city. It's bursting with mainstream culture and entertainment everywhere. It's much different here in France, where things aren't as widely accessible. I really liked the accessibility that London offered. You could tell entertainment and culture were intricately connected; museums are free, and there are so many opportunities there.
What about working and traveling abroad interests you?
MF: I'm lucky now to be able to travel quite often to many different countries. It's something that I just love doing. I love familiarizing myself with different cultures and meeting people from different backgrounds. I think it's something that makes us better people. I'm a very social person. I love working in a team. I have a couple of people that I manage, and I try to be a better manager every day for them. It's something that's very dear to me, and getting to work on an international scale here helps us learn and become more agile and adaptable. I think open-mindedness is important and really needed today, and working and traveling internationally allows you to open your mind to new things.
What is your role as an international brand manager?
MF: It's really a perfect job for me. It mixes my love for marketing with my passion for videogames, and lets me work on an international scale. As a brand manager, I work with the brand director to build the brand's marketing strategy and define our communication plans.
We work a lot with the business teams so they can work to deploy our plans, and of course the development team to come up with trailers, artwork, and screenshots to fit our marketing strategy.
We are lucky to fill this intermediary position between production and business to ensure the smoothest processes and communication to reach our mutual objectives.
What's your favorite part of the job?
MF: There's very little I don't love (laughs). I think what I like best is being part of an international creative team. Every day I get to work with incredibly creative people coming from so many different countries and companies. Working in such a multicultural and creative environment is probably what I like best about my job. We're in a passion-driven industry, and Steep especially is a passion-driven project. All the team members that have worked on Steep are passionate about outdoor action sports. I don't think this game could have been made by a different team. Working in this environment is highly stimulating, challenging, and brings out the best in all of us.
What about the multicultural nature of the team is important to you?
MF: I think it's because it's very much part of my personal life, as well. My family has always been multicultural. My husband has lived in six different countries since he was a child, and he's one of the most open-minded people I know. He's from Portugal and speaks four different languages. We have a baby girl, and he speaks Portuguese to her. I speak English to her, and our nanny speaks French with her, so it's really important to us that she grows up in a multicultural environment just like we did. I think it helps make you more understanding and tolerant of others, which I'm glad to see reflected in our team.
Working with people from so many different countries, with so many different cultures represented also provides a chance to share more, to take a step back on what we do and be even more creative.
What was the experience like, transitioning from the film industry to the game industry?
MF: Both industries are male-dominated, but I think the film industry is a bit more conservative. There are more men in senior positions there. In my experience Ubisoft has also been male-dominated, but I've seen far more women in senior leadership positions here. Our studio director, Rebecka Coutaz, is a woman. There are women working in every part of the studio, but it's still primarily male, so there's always work to do.
When I first started, I noticed that men weren't always as straightforward with their female colleagues as they were with their male ones. That's not how I work. I always want people to be comfortable with me, and not to treat me differently for being a woman.
How has joining the Steep team affected your life?
MF: I really enjoyed skiing and adventure even before I moved to Annecy, and I do quite a lot of canyoning as well. I've tried plenty of action sports, but I think joining the Steep team really gave my sense of adventure a strong boost. Annecy is a majestic place; we have an amazing playground just outside the studio. I get the chance to enjoy adventure much more here. Our team is close, as well. Many people get together after work or on the weekends to do adventurous things together.
The game itself is really a breath of fresh air in the industry. I'm very happy to be working on a game that isn't about killing. It's very consistent with my personal convictions. I love to challenge myself and have fun with friends or on my own in action sports in real life and in Steep.
Steep seems like the perfect game for you to work on, did you know what game you were interviewing for?
MF: Actually, when I heard about the job opportunity, I didn't know what kind of game it would be for. During my interviews, the team revealed it was an open-world multiplayer action sports game, and I just thought, "Oh boy, this couldn't be more perfect!" It has everything I love personally; you travel to fantastic places around the world and compete in some of my favorite winter sports. Somehow, the planets aligned so that I could work on Steep.
You started working on Steep right before its reveal at E3 2016. What was that experience like for you?
MF: It's probably one of my strongest professional memories, if not my strongest. I was only on the team for a couple of months before then, so I really hit the ground running when I joined. It was a lot of work and a lot to absorb, but it was so fantastic to see all the passion our team put into the game and that announcement. The entire team worked so hard on it, and we all supported each other so much. It was very emotional for all of us at that time, especially since we were the ones to close out the conference. I still remember sitting in the theater and being very emotional watching it live.
What advice would you give to folks looking to get into the games industry?
MF: The gaming industry is difficult to get into, because it's so competitive. I think it's important to never give up trying. When you want something strongly enough, always make sure to put in the work to make it happen, and it'll eventually work out. Have patience and perseverance, and you can make your dreams come true. If you want it hard enough, it's going to happen.