Faces of Unity: International Women’s Day
In celebration of International Women’s Day, we’re highlighting four women across Unity for this month’s Faces of Unity blog. Get to know Timoni West (Director of XR at Unity Labs, San Francisco), Nathalie Ndejuru (Workplace Experience Lead in the Americas, Montreal), Na’Tosha Bard (Technical Director of Core Research and Development, Copenhagen), and Shruti Verma (Head of Marketing in the Indian Subcontinent, Noida), and learn about their work and experiences at Unity!
What do you do at Unity?
Timoni — I’m the Director of XR in Unity Labs. Labs creates prototypes, publishes papers, works on advanced product development, and explores how technologies relevant to games and content creation will evolve over the next decade. We have teams working in a variety of fields: AI and machine learning, graphics research, computer vision, XR, and UX.
Nathalie — I’m the Workplace Experience Lead for the Americas, meaning I work with a team of amazing Workplace Experience (WE) ambassadors, coordinators, and managers in our various offices to ensure that we provide the best work environment for all of our lovely Unity peeps.
Na’Tosha — I’m a Technical Director in Core Research and Development. My main focus right now is on special projects related to data engineering, data-driven development, and information/knowledge sharing within our R&D team.
Shruti — I’m the Head of Marketing for the Indian Subcontinent. My responsibilities include increasing awareness of Unity for industry adoption, partner marketing fulfilment for partner programs signed in the region, and media and communications.
What excites you about the future of Unity and where the company is going?
Timoni — We’re at an inflection point where we are able to take all of the features we’ve developed as a game engine and move that into real world interactivity—in fact, Unity itself can be used as world creation engine. And that’s tremendously exciting.
Nathalie — Unity is the future — so many new verticals — the possibilities are endless.
Na’Tosha — Right now, I think I’m most excited about the Data Oriented Tech Stack (DOTS) initiative. I believe it has a lot of potential to push all kinds of boundaries and change the default way we think about creating highly-performant games.
Shruti — The future will be built on Unity! We will be the de facto platform for Industry 4.0 and beyond.
What cool projects have you worked/are you currently working on?
Timoni — Project MARS, our new extension for creating mixed reality, is the big focus for this year. Our goal is to give developers the ability to make spatial computing work the way we imagine in our heads and see in movies—but in real life, on real hardware.
Nathalie — Well I think WE has the best projects. The WE team creates beautiful office spaces for our employees so they can do their best work. In 2018, WE delivered two massive projects in the Americas: moving into our new Montreal and Bellevue offices — opening day was incredibly exciting and rewarding. Nothing beats seeing employee reactions when they see their new space for the first time. 2019 will have no shortage of real cool projects. We just delivered one of the coolest office space for our Colombia office in beautiful Pereira. The office has a new Unity look with a very Colombian flavor, very vibrant.
Na’Tosha — I’ve worked on a lot of things in my time here. For several years I built up the area that has now become our internal developer services organization. It’s not such a «shiny» area, but I really enjoy working on internal tooling in general because my immediate «customers» are actually the other developers in R&D and I get to work with them every day. I also worked a fair amount on the Linux port of Unity (first the runtime, which we released I believe in 2012, and then the editor, which has been available in an «experimental beta» for a few years now, but I believe will be officially supported soon). Right now I’m focusing a lot on a few different initiatives around performance testing, which is really exciting.
Shruti — I worked on the debut edition of Unite India in 2017 , the second edition in 2018, and last year I got to highlight women creators from the Indian Subcontinent on Women’s Day.
What made you decide to join Unity?
Timoni — Three things: the people, the ability to work on a great product, and the knowledge that it was the best place I could possibly be to work on spatial computing tools.
Nathalie — I was hearing of people leaving my previous workplace to go work for Unity and it got me curious. I looked at what Unity was and got really excited and then an Office Manager role in Montreal opened up. I met with the team, loved them, and voilà! Almost 4 years later and we’ve grown from 18 to 150 people in Montreal, and we’re still growing. Loving it more each day!
Na’Tosha — I joined Unity in 2010. I was really interested in how Unity was taking a different and more accessible approach to the creation of games and Unity as the «underdog» at the time appealed to me. Joining a smaller company that was still in the startup phase was also something I was sure would bring a lot of opportunities to do big and great things.
Shruti — I started engaging with Unity in my previous organization for the Indian Games Industry. The more I engaged with Unity, the more I realized how deeply committed Unity was to its community. Coming from the non-profit industry with 12 years of experience, I wanted to shift to the corporate world where I could learn more about the industry by being on the other side of the table, but with an organization which believed in the larger good for the developer community and was driving innovation.
Have you met any professional milestones here?
Timoni — Having a fantastic mentor as my boss, and so many inspiring leaders across the company to work with. They have been the support I needed to do many things I’m proud of at Unity. I was promoted to a directorship, I’ve been given the opportunity to manage an insanely talented team, and I’ve helped to release projects that are solid gifts to the immersive community, like EditorXR.
Nathalie — Yep! I raised my hand and got promoted to Lead for the Americas Workplace Experience team last year. I am very grateful for this opportunity — I learn every day, I want to give my best to the team at all times. Plus I get to travel quite a bit which I love.
Na’Tosha — I’ve accomplished a lot of things at Unity, though I’m not sure what is defined as a «milestone». I’ve definitely gotten to travel a lot, build up a solid network of people, and take on as much responsibility as I was ready for. I’ve built an entire department from scratch and my shift a few years ago into a Technical Director role also came with a lot of opportunities to have a great impact.
Shruti — As Indian Subcontinent is new territory, I’ve accomplished a lot of things at Unity. What remains close to my heart is that I launched the first Unite for the region, attended by 1200 delegates and the second edition of Unite India 2018, was attended by 1500 delegates.
Advice to someone considering joining Unity?
Timoni — You won’t regret it. You’ll have fun.
Nathalie — I think being a good fit with the Unity Values is important: we do put the users first, we’re in it together, you have to not be afraid to go bold and share your ideas because it is true that the best ideas win.
Na’Tosha — I know it might be daunting because Unity is «big», but we’ve managed to retain a lot of the culture and feeling we had when we were small and that’s really valuable.
Shruti — If you are passionate about innovating, and helping companies and developers succeed, then Unity is the place for you.
Thoughts on company culture?
Timoni — Our level of healthy communication is off the charts. You don’t need to be afraid to speak your mind, and your opinions will be respected.
Nathalie — Openness. I feel like it is an environment where you can be yourself. You can share ideas and be heard.
Na’Tosha — I enjoy the freedom we generally have to speak our minds and involve ourselves in what we believe in.
Shruti — I enjoy the frank and warm culture of Unity. You can always reach out to anyone across the board for any help and inputs without hesitation. Everyone is ready to help you with a smile and welcome your inputs.
Favorite video game?
Timoni — All time, Ocarina of Time and Skyrim, but man I have a soft spot for Night in the Woods right now. It’s just so freaking funny.
Nathalie — I am not really a gamer, though I did spend some time chasing Pokemon and playing with Angry Birds. Oh and I have Monument Valley just for the art!
Na’Tosha — For a long time it was Diablo II and then Neverwinter Nights. From more recent games, probably Deus-Ex: Human Revolution. I also really enjoyed both Dragon Quest Builders and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on the Nintendo Switch.
Shruti — Mario.
What’s your favorite thing about working at Unity?
Timoni — The international mix. Working alongside colleagues from many countries and walks of life means that my own perspective has broadened substantially since joining Unity. Also people love Unity, and it’s so validating to meet users who are genuinely excited about the product.
Nathalie — Everything! I love the people, the culture, the projects, everything!
Na’Tosha — The freedom and opportunity that I personally have makes my workday fulfilling and I enjoy knowing that I’ve had a big role in helping Unity grow from what it was in 2010 to what it is now. On a personal note, the flexibility we have in our workday and schedules is extremely valuable to me as a mother with a young child at home.
Shruti — Flexibility, autonomy, and freedom to pursue the goals of the organization and the team.
What would you tell someone considering a career in your field?
Timoni — Learn as much and prototype as much as you possibly can. Beg, borrow, or steal the hardware.
Nathalie — You have to love multi-tasking, be flexible, be a good listener, and know how to say no with a smile
Na’Tosha — Go for it! Technology is our future and making technology is a great way to have an impact on the world.
Shruti — Keep an open mind and be a good listener.
If you’re interested in learning more about Unity Technologies and opportunities to work with Timoni, Nathalie, Na’Tosha, or Shruti, check out our careers page!