Interview with Kristina Janković Obućina on the occasion of the new cycle of the SGA Mentorship Programme
One of the key missions of the Creative Mentorship organization is to spread the idea of mentorship while strengthening and supporting the culture, arts, creative industries, and media sectors both in Serbia and in the region. By sharing their knowledge and experience, the Creative Mentorship team also provides support in the initiation and implementation of other mentorship programms. One such programme, launched with the support of our team, is the SGA Mentorship Program, which will have its fourth edition this year. On this occasion, we spoke with Kristina Janković Obućina, executive manager of SGA, who spoke in more detail about which innovations will be introduced with the new mentorship cycle, what importance this programme has for the community of people who create video games in our country, and in what way the support of Creative Mentorship contributes to the successful implementation of this programme.
What experiences and knowledge did your organization’s team gain after three successfully implemented SGA mentorship programs? How will the new SGA mentorship cycle differ from previous ones?
KJO: We always try to listen to our gaming community and not do anything “by heart”. Thanks to the Creative Mentorship team, after each cycle we had detailed evaluations and clear insights into how the process went.
Currently, the focus of all gaming studios is supporting senior talent and team leaders. That’s why we decided that for the first time, this cycle will be designed so that seniors from the domestic ecosystem find mentors, also seniors, from Europe. This will bring tangible value and knowledge to Serbia, which would not otherwise be available to us, and will be the first programme of this type implemented in our country.
Photo: Foto: Participants of the third cycle of the SGA Mentorship Programme
With the gaming industry inevitably affected by adverse global economic changes, what have you identified as important aspects in which members of your network would need support in mentoring and empowerment in the coming period?
KJO: What the industry is a little isolated from here is the knowledge gained from working on very large projects – which last a long time, involve large teams, budgets, more complex tools and a good set of soft skills. This applies to all departments – artistic, programming, and business support.
That first-hand insight into these types of systems will be key to continuing the industry growth and inertia we’ve been in every year. The famous “you can’t be what you can’t see”. The principle of mentoring is especially suitable for the gaming industry because it is about positions occupied by self-taught people in the vast majority of cases. That’s why field experience is extremely important here. Also, gaming tools and methodologies, and ultimately consumers and games, are changing at lightning speed. All these trends are much easier to follow with someone’s help.
In the very dynamic and challenging times we live in, mentoring can be a very important resource for learning, development, and progress for each individual in the gaming industry, as well as the entire creative industry in general. In your opinion, what are the most important aspects of the mentorship methodology that individuals in the gaming industry may already be able to apply in their daily work?
KJO: I am sure that the participants of the previous cycles have mastered, first of all, the setting of goals. This is an essential tool for mapping personal growth and development, and it is the first skill acquired through these cycles. Then there’s getting used to something that doesn’t come naturally to everyone, which is asking for help or advice. Once people see how easy it is and that it leads to huge changes, and that both sides benefit from it, it’s hard to quit. We joke all the time that mentoring is contagious, but it really is. And what I am most pleased to see is the reversal of roles – those who were mentees in one cycle are mentors in the next. That cumulative value of mentoring is unique.
Are you in contact with participants of previous SGA mentoring cycles and do you know specific examples of successful cases where mentoring resulted in significant contributions from your participants in the industry?
KJO: Gaming in Serbia is a relatively small community, so we often meet our alumni. Suffice it to say that we have cases where the same mentors participated in all three cycles so far. This tells us that both they and their mentees saw clear value. Also, we constantly get questions: “When will the new cycle start?” which is also a very concrete indicator that the programs are useful. One of the concrete examples are participants who applied for mentoring either because they were about to start a new position at work or because they received a promotion within the same department. That transition was made easier for them by participating in the mentorship programme.
Your decision to continue cooperating with Creative Mentorship confirms that you have had positive experiences working with our organization’s team. What do you particularly like about the cooperation between SGA and Creative Mentorship?
KJO: I’ll go back to how quickly things change in gaming. That’s why the agile approach of the Creative Mentorship team and the willingness to adapt each cycle to get the best results and the greatest value for everyone was extremely important to us. In addition, the biggest constant is the inexhaustible positivity, dedication and sincere love for the concept of mentorship with which you have infected us 🙂 Such a thorough and careful approach is not often found nowadays and for that we are most sincerely grateful to you!
Foto: Participants of the fourth cycle of the SGA Mentorship Programme