Levelling Up – Neonhive’s Jane Johnston

Jane Johnston, chief operating officer at Neonhive, tells us about the logistics of managing a team when every day is different. 

What is your job role and how would you describe your typical day at work?

The brilliant thing about my role – to me anyway – is that there’s not a typical day. As a PR and Marketing agency, Neonhive works closely with our partners to showcase their games, and we also strive to keep improving internally – both for clients, and for the wellbeing of our team.

Being chief operations officer within a small business means overseeing operational projects we undertake, but also managing the team, overseeing learning and development, and working with prospective clients on business development.

On a given day, I could be working across any and all of these, from hiring to launching a new team initiative (like the four-day week, which we did this year).

What qualifications and/or experience do you need to land your job?

Understanding budgets, business development strategy and the ability to problem solve are all important. These can be learned on a path up from entry level roles. My background was originally in sales, with my role before Neonhive being at EGX – my route into games was later in my career.

The other key element is management – you absolutely need to understand how to support a team, take feedback, and know what motivates people. Some things are intuitive, but you can always improve, and learn how to support team members who work differently from you.

If you were interviewing someone for your team, what would you look for?

We actually are hiring at the minute, so I’m thinking about this a lot! I’m always looking for someone who can show me why they fit the job spec, genuinely. We don’t hire people from the “right” previous role, we’re always interested in transferable skills – as long as the person can demonstrate them. You don’t need a background in games to work with us and do a great job!

Outside of that, we look for problem solving. You need to be proactive – we’re serious about maintaining a healthy work-life balance, and we want someone who’ll help us maintain that! If a team member finds a better way to do something, we’ll implement it.

What opportunities are there for career progression at Neonhive?

We like to promote people internally, but also move them around if that’s what they want – so I’d say there are lots of opportunities. I’ll be the first to suggest a promotion when someone is doing a great job, you shouldn’t always have to ask for what you deserve.

We probably can’t get a PR exec into forensic biology, but we can definitely get a community manager into influencer management. I can move a team member into the role they want and hire to replace them, or I can hire for BOTH roles when they leave if they’re unhappy – and I’d prefer option one. I also set quarterly goals around what team members want to achieve. It’s about them, and not company targets. It’s demoralising when you work your hardest towards things which you can’t truly change (that’s the sales background speaking).

On a personal level, even with a senior role, the opportunity for learning is always there. There’s more to learn at any level, and my next step is to look into formal project management qualifications, to keep me on my toes.

About Vince Pavey

Vince is a writer from the North-East of England who has worked on comics for The Beano and Doctor Who. He likes to play video games and eat good food. Sometimes he does both at the same time, but he probably shouldn’t.

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