Working in the video game industry for a decade, Jess Loeb, WG’20, says she is often the most senior woman in the room if not the only woman in the room. To encourage and support more women in her industry, she co-founded an internal women’s group at one company and led a mentorship program at another company. She came to Wharton’s EMBA program to learn about organizational change and management to take her advocacy work to the next level.
She also came to fill in knowledge gaps and connect with students from different backgrounds and share her perspective as a woman in the gaming industry. “In the video game industry, most people have done this for their entire career, so connecting with colleagues in other industries was important. And coming from a computer science and creative background, I also wanted a foundational knowledge about how business works to improve my ability to navigate decisions. The fact that I can add my own unique and colorful perspective to discussions empowers me to give and take more out of each course,” said Jess.
Currently a second-year student, Jess says that Wharton is helping her fulfill these goals. She explained: “It’s giving me the knowledge and skills needed to take my ideas or my advocacy group’s ideas and give them a fighting chance. Class discussions help me reexamine what is going on through different lenses and take a case study approach to analyzing the disparate experiences that men and women have in our industry.”
Using her newfound tools to address some organizational challenges, Jess recently helped relaunch the internal women’s group at her company. “I wasn’t capable of solving those problems before I came to Wharton. Taking advantage of the class knowledge as well as the programming around class weekends has helped grow my ability to articulate both the how and the why. I also worked with leadership at my organization to come up with ways to re-engage the community and implement better organizational anchors for these types of groups to thrive and address issues that disproportionately affect women and underrepresented minorities,” she said.
Jess added: “There’s a vibrant active community of women at Wharton too, which I’m proud to be a part of. There are amazing women in this EMBA program who inspire me to do more. There is so much value in forming relationships with other women at the same point in their careers, even if we are in different functions and industries. We can all share our struggles and feel less alone and more empowered to take on problems together.”
Professors are engaged in ensuring that gender issues are reflected in the curriculum as well. “They are very open to discuss gender issues in case studies and at times have changed their presentations on the spot because of those discussions,” Jess noted.
Her Wharton education is also helping her add value in her role at PlayStation. “It’s been an incredible experience,” she said. “Never in a million years would I think that a case study about engineering light bulbs could explain how other companies should look beyond what is directly in front of us. I apply tools from all my classes from marketing and management to finance and use them to translate ideas into a language that people in other functions in my organization understand. My engineering work is more effective to the greater organizational goals in part because I can translate between engineering and business objectives more effectively for myself, and help connect those with others.”
Recently, Jess was promoted to principal software engineer. “Of the 18 principal engineers at my company, I’m the only woman. Wharton is giving me the academic knowledge, confidence, and ability to communicate beyond my domain. My last performance review noted how I am able to synthesize different pieces of information and bring in added value to my day to day work,” she said.
Jess points to gaining new perspectives as another source of value. “I went to Ethiopia for a Global Modular Course on healthcare reform in a developing country. We went to a startup incubator and saw the amazing things they are doing to slowly privatize. That gave me a tremendous amount of perspective and is helping me see how different cultures approach business.”
“This program is very worthwhile,” she said. “It’s helping me achieve my goals, broaden my perspective, and meet amazing classmates.”
— Meghan Laska
Posted: October 9, 2019