Laura Miele, Chief Studios Officer at Electronic Arts (EA)
Laura Miele has been with Electronic Arts for more than 21 years and is one of the most influential voices in the industry today. Prior to becoming Chief Studios Officer in 2019, she was EA’s Executive Vice President of Global Publishing and held several other leadership positions in which she honed her expertise in analytics, business strategy, marketing, and publishing. She has been a team leader at EA, spearheading the company’s commercial digital transformation and developing superlative gaming experiences. Notably, she sits on the board of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation; is a member of the Donor Engagement and Giving Committee; and leads EA’s Women’s Ultimate Team as an advocate of gender diversity in the industry and beyond.
[OnlineEducation.com] How did you initially join EA? What games attracted you to the industry?
[Laura Miele] I started at Westwood Studios at a time when online gameplay was quickly evolving. I’ve always loved playing games, so the idea that I could play with people from around the world was intriguing to me. This led to a fun career in video games, but it has been the passion and engagement of our players that has kept me in the industry. Now, after 20 years in roles across studios, marketing, partnerships, and publishing, I am more passionate than ever about the player experience, and how essential it is to everything we do. And, I’m in good company. EA comprises people who love playing games and who share this commitment to the player experience.
[OnlineEducation.com] Are there any major disruptors on the horizon that you’re excited about (e.g., VR, specific consoles/games, etc.)?
[Laura Miele] There has never been a better time to be at EA and in entertainment. It feels like we’re at the dawn of a new era, where games are going to be accessible around the world, no matter what type of device you’re playing on. And beyond great play experiences, games will connect us together like never before, and they will feel more personal for every player. Our players want more control over the experiences they have, and that’s an incredibly exciting opportunity for us as game-makers.
In our studios today, players are actually helping us to create a new competitive gaming mode in Battlefield 1, which now has a community of more than 21 million unique players. They’re helping us understand what they like; what they don’t like; and how they want to play and compete against each other. We’re in an alpha test now with that experience, and it’s incredible because the players helped us define it. This is fast becoming a trend across our industry, and we want to be at the leading edge of it with our players.
[OnlineEducation.com] Who have been your greatest mentors?
[Laura Miele] I am a strong believer in mentorship, and I am lucky enough to have had many mentors who took interest in my career development and advocated for my success over the years. Great mentorship is a two-way street that begins with the mentee being self-aware and very open to developing and evolving. I always showed up in these relationships ready to take a new, bold leap which is different than working with a mentor for your next promotion.
I am fortunate to have had my career at EA because we have truly exceptional people at this company. My list of mentors is a long and distinguished one, but one woman comes to mind because she not only shaped my leadership approach but she also shaped who I became as a person. Her name is Nancy Smith and she had an exceptional career at EA with notable contributions to the company. Her mentorship included setting a strong example of gracefully handling business issues, pushing hard while still being very supportive of her teams. My approach is to be passionate, collaborative, and in service of my teams. We must foster the right environment where everyone’s voice can be heard and we can bring the best thinking to the table to ultimately deliver the most innovative experiences for our players. Success hinges on the power of your teams, and I saw that firsthand by shifting focus from my own career and accomplishments to investing in the success of my team and my company. It is an incredibly powerful multiplier to come together as a team to accomplish amazing things.
[OnlineEducation.com] What are the demographics of working in games?
[Laura Miele] This is one of the reasons I’m proud to work at EA. Inclusion has always been central to the very fabric of our company, whether that’s in our teams, or in the games we make. We are proud of the diverse talent we have today, and continue to strive every day for even greater diversity in our workforce, and to champion that across our industry.
[OnlineEducation.com] Why do you think women are underrepresented in the industry?
[Laura Miele] If you look at our audience today, nearly half of the 2.6 billion gamers worldwide are women. We’re not there in gender balancing our industry, and that means there’s work to be done to bring more diverse perspectives to the table. I’m passionate about this, and so is EA. We believe in being a force of change. I’m personally involved as the executive sponsor of our Women’s Ultimate Team at EA, which has broad support across our company, and operates with a series of commitments across all aspects of our business to proactively foster an inclusive environment. We believe that a diverse and multicultural workforce is not just important, but imperative to delivering amazing games and experiences for our players.
[OnlineEducation.com] What are some of the steps EA and other companies are taking to increase women’s representation?
[Laura Miele] We think about this in two ways that are intricately linked: advancing representation in the games we create, and expanding representation inside our talent base and that of our industry. Electronic Arts is a leader in games with representation. Franchises like The Sims, Mass Effect, Mirror’s Edge, and more are defined by diverse characters and experiences that engage wide-reaching communities.
Our EA SPORTS teams are setting the bar on this as well, with women’s national teams in FIFA and WNBA teams in NBA LIVE. Diversity is deeply rooted in our teams and our creative process, and that comes alive in the games we make. Our Women’s ERG, Women’s Ultimate Team, has been working with our studio teams to explore new ways for us to build on this strong base, and ensure that our diverse audience continues to come alive in the games we create.
EA has invested in mentoring initiatives, education efforts, and scholarships to help foster long-term growth of women in our industry. We hope to empower future generations of women to get involved in and pursue a career in STEM. EA’s work in gender equality has included partnership with Black Girls Code, Girls Who Code, UN HeForShe, the Anita Borg Institute, and Girls Make Games. Internally, we are also driving improvements to our recruitment process, ensuring diverse interview panels for candidates and tackling unconscious bias with blind resumes and candid feedback to interviewers.
[OnlineEducation.com] What advice do you have for women aspiring to work in leadership at video games companies? Are there specific skills or experiences you think would be particularly useful?
[Laura Miele] My advice for women aspiring to work in the video game industry is to go full throttle. Immerse yourself in your company, your games, in the people you work with, and the consumer that you serve. Be passionate, be excited, and approach your role in a way that is fearless. Love what you do and strive to be the best at it. You don’t have to have all the answers—jump in and you’ll learn along the way.