At work I produce a weekly newsletter for our team (we’re over 300, with the majority in Montreal, but with a few satellite groupings around the world) that’s meant to be a fun, social update on what’s going on within the team. I do it because I like the exercise of producing it each week (it’s not really part of my “job description”). The main feature of each edition is an interview with someone from the team — to help us get to know each other better — and this week I was the one who did it. I figure why not share it here.
Jean, since when have you been working at Ubisoft + how would you describe your job/role to your grandma (or to your 5-year-old niece)?
Next week will mark my 3rd anniversary at Ubisoft [hired in February 2016]! I tell people that my team helps support all aspects of the company, from the nitty-gritty of the games all the way to our customer support. I think that’s easy enough to understand.
What is the most interesting job you had before joining Ubisoft?
I was director of the PechaKucha organization – a series of events that happen all over the world (in over 1000 cities) in which artists/designers share their work, but also a format, in which a presentation is made up of 20 slides, and they advance automatically every 20 seconds. I also ran the monthly PechaKucha Night series in Tokyo, and so I’m pretty excited to try and bring some of that vibe to the UDC Micro Tech Talks I’m hosting and helping to organize. [UDC is the annual internal Ubisoft Developers Conference, held at the Montreal studio, and I’m producing a lightning talk event this year.]
Could you tell us about your most embarrassing moment (at work or elsewhere)?
I feel like I probably do an embarrassing thing every single day of my life, and the trick is just to own it. I’m especially fine with it if it makes people laugh.
Is there a project/achievement you are really proud of?
I’m generally proud of anything that people end up enjoying, and I’d say recent projects include last year’s hackathon [an internal hackathon I helped organize for the team], and all of the newsletters I produce for our teams, including, of course, this very newsletter [my work relates mostly to product management, and one of the things I like to do is produce newsletters to update users/stakeholders on the state of our internal tools and services].
Do you have a favourite movie, TV series, game, comics, book and/or album/band?
Movies: I’m a huge James Bond fan, and have owned the entire series on VHS, DVD, Blu-ray, and now watch them digitally. I re-watch them quite regularly. Right after this are probably the first three Indiana Jones movies. I also need to point out the films of Zhang Yimou, which impacted my choice to study Chinese culture and the language (and Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Last Emperor).
TV: My favorite series of all time is Twin Peaks. Game of Thrones is right up there too. I also loved Freaks and Geeks, even though it only lasted one season.
Books: When I was a kid, I really loved kid-mystery books (Le Club des Cinq, Le Clan des Sept, Fantômette, Langelot, Les Trois Jeunes Détectives) and as a teen, the most memorable was probably the DragonLance Chronicles trilogy. These days, I love reading game-related books (Masters of Doom, Blood, Sweat, and Pixels, Significant Zero, stuff from Boss Fight Books, etc.)
Magazines: I’ve been a huge magazine addict all my life. When I was a kid, it was Electronic Fun with Computers and Games and Dragon. For a good part of my life it was Wired (and so I was especially thrilled to be a regular contributor to Wired’s Game|Life blog for a while). These days, it’s Monocle and Edge.
Comics: My favorite comic series of all time is G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, written by Larry Hama, that I read as a kid and still read now.
Bandes-dessinées: Pretty much the classics like Tintin, Spirou, Gaston Lagaffe, Astérix, Lucky Luke – and Yoko Tsuno.
Anime: My favorite anime series of all time are Cowboy Bebop, Monster, and Samurai Champloo. In movies, pretty much all the Ghibli movies, and the work of Satoshi Kon (Perfect Blue, Paprika) and Mamoru Hosoda (Summer Wars, The Girl Who Leaped Through Time) — and Akira. As a kid, it was Albator (Captain Harlock).
Video Games: My favorite series is The Legend of Zelda, and in general I’m a big Nintendo fan, and especially love Mario platformers.
Board Games: For dungeon crawling it’s Gloomhaven, for social deduction it’s Coup (and Ultimate Werewolf Legacy, for its narrative track), and for narrative it’s Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game.
Music: My two favorite bands of all time are The Pixies and Pizzicato Five.
Could you share one surprising thing your colleagues do not know about you?
Even though I lived over 15 years in Japan, before moving there I was actually studying Chinese (as part of the East-Asian Studies program at l’Université de Montréal). As part of those studies I went to a university in China (Nankai University in the city of Tianjin) for an intensive language program, met a girl who was Japanese, and moved to Tokyo with her. We’re still married today.
What was your best vacation ever?
The most memorable one was probably our trip to Peru three years ago, and hiking up to Machu Picchu.