Most of you probably don’t know me. I am the community manager at BioWare for Mass Effect and Dragon Age, but I am not a public-facing figure. Although 99% of my job is done behind the scenes, there’s a good chance that you see my work several times a week. I don’t often step out from behind my desk, but on this occasion, I felt it was warranted.
As you may have heard by now, Jessica Merizan has left BioWare after serving as its community manager for the past three years. That would be sad enough in its own right, but it cuts a bit deeper for me personally. Having worked with Jess every day of my two-plus years with the company, I’m losing more than a co-worker and teammate. I’m also losing a mentor.
Let’s talk about mentors, shall we? In a perfect world, we’d all have a plethora of them to pick and choose from, but that’s not the reality we live in. We probably all work–or have at some point worked–with intelligent, caring people. Leaders that we’d follow into battle. However, that doesn’t necessarily equate to a suitable mentor by itself.
In addition to those characteristics, a mentor is imbued with vision, patience, and most importantly, a desire to invest in your future. A good mentor nurtures your development without ever losing sight of their own. A great mentor is a perfect cocktail of all these things, and assumes the role without even being asked. That’s what Jess was for me: a damn great mentor.
When I first came to BioWare in 2012, it was intimidating to say the least. Mass Effect 3 had just released, and well, we already know how that story goes. Needless to say, folks were busy. Despite the tumultuous time, Jess took me under her wing from day one and continued to do so every day that followed.
No matter what, Jess always made herself available. Bad day at work? Jess was there to listen. Troubles in my personal life? Jess was there to listen. Generate ideas so crazy that Mike Laidlaw’s face was sure to melt? Jess was there to listen… and to prevent Mike’s face from melting. Are you starting to sense a theme here?
Jess has shown me more support than I could ever repay to her. If I’m being completely honest, she’s shown me more support than anyone I’ve ever worked with, and that’s saying a lot. I hope that in some small way, I made her time at BioWare a little easier by being on her team. At the very least, I hope I brightened her day every so often by simply being the goofy, dumb ass that I am.
I would love to thank Jess for everything she’s done for me, but words don’t really seem to cover the debt. She has gone above and beyond to help facilitate my career development, and she did it all selflessly. We were never in competition with each other for anything. We were a team. We were two, like-minded and creative people that wanted to be a part of something amazing. We both shared a genuine passion to entertain, celebrate with our fans (we’re huge fans, too!), and support the hard work of our incredibly gifted studio. We certainly gave it our best shot.
So, if you take anything with you from this blog post, please let it be this:
- Find your mentor
- Listen to them
- Learn and evolve
- Pay it forward
If you’ve already got a mentor, give ‘em a nice big hug and thank them (I love you Karin Weekes & Ann Lemay!). Remind them how much you appreciate their efforts. Someday, become that mentor to someone else, and help cultivate the next rising star in your world. Together, let’s all keep perpetuating awesome.
I love you, Jess. Whatever I accomplish during my career at BioWare will be largely attributed to you and your guidance as a mentor. I will miss you more than you know.