Chief Operating Officer at Glass Egg Digital Media, Guillaume Monier talks to Claudia Davaar Lambie. Photo by Vinh Dao.
“I’m a gamer. When I was five years old [I had] a SEGA Mega Drive. My first game was Sonic the Hedgehog,” says Guillaume Monier, 30. “I’ve always had a console at home; selling the previous one and saving my pocket money to buy the next one.”
Monier, originally from France, has a grandmother who told him a lot about Saigon. He fell in love with the country and moved here permanently in 2008. In 2009 he joined Glass Egg Digital Media as the marketing manager. “Most people who want to work in the gaming industry became coders, game designers or artists. I don’t have those kind of hard skills, I can’t draw or code, but I still wanted to work in that field, so I went for the marketing and business side of the industry.” Glass Egg, which was established in Ho Chi Minh City in 1999, has two core business functions.
The main area is art outsourcing for video games. In a nutshell, this means producing artwork and 3D modelling for game developers around the world. The second aspect of the business is mobile game development and publishing for the iPhone, iPad or Android. “We are one of the pioneers of the 3D art outsourcing industry for games in the world,” declares Monier.
Monier was subsequently promoted to business development director and in 2013 became the studio’s chief operating officer (COO). Monier mainly handles the client side of things. Glass Egg works with game developers in around 20 different countries, spanning from the US and Australia to the UK and more recently Japan. “I am the ‘face’ of the company and am responsible for ensuring that clients are satisfied with the services,” he says.
A typical day for Monier begins at around 9am. “If I have a call with clients in the US, I will come in earlier due to the time zone difference. I block my morning to catch up with emails.” If the clients have any problems, Monier works directly with the managers of different teams to try and solve them. Queries relating to changes to a project as well as the progress of it are quite common.
Working with video game giants such as Microsoft, Electronic Arts, Sony and Ubisoft, provides an impressive portfolio of clients and one which has to be well managed with any risks mitigated. The biggest project the studio has worked on took around one and-a-half years to complete, with around 110 artists involved. On average though, a project usually takes a few months to finish with a dozen artists working on it.
Another key element of Monier’s role is dealing with the contractual side of the business. “I negotiate the contracts, propose quotations and pitch new projects alongside the head of production of the studio.” As Glass Egg continues to grow and develop, so too does the volume of work. “We have a lot of enquiries everyday and I have to sort out what we can do, what we can’t do, or what we could do in the future.”
Daily, Monier works closely with the other directors of Glass Egg. “We discuss the company’s strategy, where it should go and where it should be.” Over the last four years particularly, Glass Egg has grown, with around 300 staff now spread over three floors. “We are trying to consolidate what we have and slow down, as our current size is good enough to compete with our competitors.”
In the afternoon, Monier meets with the different teams and checks on progress of internal and external projects. For a few hours a day, it is important that he oversees the mobile game development division. “I sometimes test the games or assist with the design.” As mobile game applications are already a huge industry, Monier is aware of the risks of penetrating such a market.“It will either be a hit or a miss, but we hope that gamers will download our games.”
As well as keeping the clients happy and satisfied, Monier believes that the employees at the studio are the greatest asset to the company. He happily operates an open-door policy which can only serve to boost the morale of the employees.
Alongside this, having fun at work is an essential component of employee satisfaction, as Monier explains: “We have even just redesigned a meeting room for the staff where they can play video or board games, or just chill.”